I only had time for a quick walk, just enough to stretch my legs and breathe in some fresh air. It is early evening now, the days are getting noticeably shorter, the shadows are getting longer, and there is just enough crispness in the air to energize me. Even now as I look out my window, the leaves hanging down from the old Norway maple are absolutely still. My path wound through the old cow pastures and down into a small forest of towering white pines. Nothing moved. No birds sang.  A few crows flew overhead. Hardly any insect sounds. It was as if by some common consent everything came to a standstill. And yet there was life all around me. All the trees and shrubs are a lush green – later than usual because of the wet summer we’ve had. Asters and goldenrod are blooming in profusion at the edge of the meadow. I stopped at the muddy rim of a pool in the brook to see plenty of animal tracks … opposum, raccoon, deer, fox … so they’re all out there.

It has been a busy day – the day all the teachers return to school to get ready for tomorrow when the students come back. There was the usual round of meetings, getting our classrooms ready, straightening out the last-minute problems. When I started the walk I was thinking about tomorrow, what I would say to the students, how I would get my expectations for the year across to them. What would it take to motivate them? I started wondering how I would deal with the problem students. The ones who seem to thrive on being disruptive. They’re the ones who keep me awake nights. I teach in a middle school. Maybe I’m being overly dramatic, but I often feel if we don’t reach them now, then they will be lost for a long time. Maybe forever. I’m determined not to get angry with them, to look for ways to help them realize there’s a better way. I was building up a lot of anxiety about this, until I got down in among the pines and stopped, looked around, and listened to the silence of the changing season.

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