Saturday, January 15, 2011

September 2010

Having just retired in June, this was the first September in 56 years that I was not returning to school. In 1954, my mother's hand securely in mine, we walked the streets of the South Bronx as I headed off to school for the first time. This strange new environment with its long corridors and strange antiseptic smells was to become familiar each September, in one form or another, for more than half a century to come. From grammar school, to high school, on to college and graduate schools, then through forty years of teaching, September has always signaled for me, Janus-like, both the end of a glorious summer and a new beginning tinged with both eagerness and apprehension.

The year, of course, had its seasons, from tumbling autumn leaves that crunched underfoot each Halloween amid the masks of fall; to Thanksgiving with its brisk, chill winds; then the long, frenzied anticipation of Christmas and the revelry of New Year's Eve. The long dark nights of January gave way to red-hearted fancies on Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's Day parades then heralded the spring, soon followed by April rains and Easter blooms. The warmth of May made winter but a distant memory, and June heralded the approach of summer once again. July and August melted into long, lazy days of balmy reverie. Then September, with all of its schedules, routines, renewal, and promise, came round once more.

But this year, this September of 2010, was to be different. To mark the month that I would not be returning to school, and I suppose to afford something of a distraction from that long-ingrained routine, my wife and I booked a trip to Ireland for the first three weeks in September. I was in Dublin on the first day of classes back in New York, and I lifted a pint to my former colleagues, and toasted all the Septembers past and those yet to come. Something tells me it just may be the start of a new tradition.

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