Yes, and vacation is over. Quite honestly, this is one summer I’m glad to put behind me. I’m starting a new year.
I have always used September as a starting point in the year. Some people use Jan. 1st (for some strange reason) and even others keep the ‘olde’ ways and start the year off in April, while a good many people in China have their new year February. But for some reason it seemed right to me to start the year in September.
When I was little, that was the month I began a new school year and had crisp new notebooks, sharp yellow pencils that hadn’t faded to stubs, pens with ink in them, and even new shoes and clothes. September I walked down the driveway to catch the bus and my bookbag (smelling of new plastic) full of notebooks with nothing doodled on their virgin pages, my new shoes a little stiff, my new sweater a little scratchy, and my new haircut a disaster as usual. My lunchbox was even shiny and new, with no scratches, and my thermos still intact. (The thermos never lasted long.)
I’d walk up our long drive, past the fields where the corn was harvested and only tattered stalks remained, past the barn where potatoes were being sorted and sacked, and past the migrant workers sheds. I’d pass the white trailer where the farmer’s son and his new wife lived.
At the bus stop there would be a crowd of kids in September. The migrant workers hadn’t moved on yet, so their kids started school with us. I’d know them, having played with them all summer, and we’d compare new lunchboxes and shoes, and stand in a wiggley line as the bus drove up, lights flashing.
The air was dusty and smelled like newly dug potatoes and goldenrod, and the first fall leaves would crackle underfoot. We’d hurry to board the bus, our hearts pounding, wondering who our new teacher would be, and if our best friend would be in our class. The driver would hollar for us to sit down and be quiet, and I’d press my forehead against the window and hope this new school year would be wonderful.
Most people see autumn as the end of the year. But I always thought of it as a new beginning.
What is the beginning to your year?