Here we are again, with 365 fresh days ahead of us, 52 Saturdays, 12 spanking new months with the familiar and the unrevealed. We know that February will bring Valentine’s Day, but have to wait as the days peel back new experiences. It’s like an onion, so solid, so familiar, but as we peel layer after layer the inner onion is slowly revealed. The school months have their own particular rhythms that are as predictable as the dawn. We can look for a growing strength as the children mature as readers and writers, but just as the dawn we can’t tell the weather until we go out into the day no matter what the weatherman might opine.
The structure of my days is shaped by my occupation as it determines to a large extent my comings and goings, the times I go to bed and the time that the alarm jolts me out of my dreams. What will shape my days when I no longer pace the path to Trinity each weekday? I feel that I have 2 or 3 more years, but will probably do 4 unless the powers that be decide to cut me loose and leave me unmoored. That will be the biggest new beginning, when I release that familiar trace that has been an anchor for me for the past 40 years. When that inevitable time comes to give up teaching, that will be a time for exploring a different kind of calendar, a calendar that isn’t marked so much by the educational days of vacations but with markings chosen by just me, or me and Hardin, or me and the boys.
But for now, my path is well marked, walked many times. I remember walking through the field between the farm and Uncle Bax’s house, a dirt path that was worn by the repetitive walking of Daddy and Uncle Bax as they walked back and forth to the farm, a path that wasn’t created by any tool but just by their feet as they made their way toward that familiar place. My path to school is a well trod, but is a path that isn’t visible to anyone but me. The drive down 7th street, avoiding the bump in front of the Fig Tree restaurant, avoiding the bus when it stops in front of the CPCC building, looking at Charlotte’s skyline as the day begins to light the buildings. The lights within each tower are replaced by the morning light that colors each with a new day. My path continues for a while longer before I need to look for a new trail to follow.