Slipping through my fingers

I’ve been working from home since the end of March with much more  control over how to organise my time, no commuting and three teenagers to help out with the chores yet August feels just as busy as ever.

I don’t suppose I’ll ever master a school holiday routine which leaves me gliding serenely to the start of term. July ought to be the time where I get all my lesson plans prepped, clean the house, decorate a couple of rooms and overhaul the garden. But, in all honesty, I’m too exhausted by the end of term to do anything other than sleep and read a book.

This year school shoe-stopping has been replaced by uni supplies shopping  but the feeling of time slipping through my fingers like sand remains – more than ever this year as we wave off two sons to university. And the dreams which plague many teachers before the start of a school year – the ones where you can’t find your way round the school and your behaviour management strategies don’t work  – have just started to kick-in.

Who knows what will happen this year? Expect the best, prepare for the worst will be my mantra. I have a week to get ready but will try to fit in a country walk or two before then to steady the nerves, quell any anxiety and bring some stillness to a busy few days.

To everything there is a season…

Apples courtesy of Habitat Aid.

I’m back to school at the end of this week after a summer when, as ever, I completed about half of the tasks on my list. Note the use of the word ‘completed’. The garden is in better shape than it was at the beginning of July, some decorating has been finished, books have been read and chutney made with produce as it comes into season. It’s a bumper year for. Apples. They’ve been falling from the trees for weeks. I spent a happy half hour in Grandad’s London garden sorting the good from the bad with the aid of a ‘sorter’ fashioned from an old brush handle and a plank of wood. (You can never retire from engineering!)

This year we have a phased back to school and work routine. Next week one of the bright young things returns to school, the middle one returns a few days later (after a week of work experience) and the eldest starts at University after that. Ample opportunity to indulge the family stationery fetish! I’m sure all teachers have one.

One of the great joys of life is the pleasure you can take from the changing seasons – not just the way nature, the garden, the weather, the light changes but all those rituals associated with different times of year. I have a sizeable bulb order arriving within the next few weeks. That will take up a few evenings after school in the new term. There is apple chutney to make, quince jelly to create, the chimney to be swept, logs to order, a Christmas cake to prep in October. The list goes on.

Whilst I’ll miss the not so lazy days of summer there are pleasures aplenty to come in every season. They give a shape and familiarity to the year which energises the body and quietens the soul. Modern society can leave us cocooned from seasonality. Centrally heated houses can feel the same all year round, you can put fresh strawberries on a pavlova in February and keep your Christmas lights up all year round. That’s not for me.

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