It is my first day of school vacation. My second year of teaching has flown by, and it has brought me such learning, and growth and appreciation, I feel grateful to find something I cherish and love doing everyday. I love my students, and my colleagues, and I love that I am paid to do math everyday!
And I also love my school vacation.
On this beautiful quiet morning, after dropping off Anjali, now 4 and ¾ as she reminded me this morning, I walked on the meandering roads near my house and I couldn’t help marveling at how my life has unfolded here in the upper valley. I came here as a graduate student to Dartmouth college, when I was 21. And I just never left. It has been nearly 14 years now. It wasn’t a love affair from the beginning, I can tell you that for sure. In fact I cried those beginning months, to be back home, to be around people again. And then one starry night, I walked outside from a show at the Hopkins center, and that’s when I knew. I was going to stay.
It is amazing to me that such a small place can hold so much. The beautiful magnificent fall – in all its triumphant colors that change everyday, culminating in a rich golden dance of leaves that lead into nothingness. And then the beauty of pure white snow and the trees clothed in white, the snowy banks and mountains and the feel of icy cold air on the cheeks. Everything feels so still in the winter. And then the melting and the nothingness in between – before the buds shoot forth and miracle of life happens again. The trees and plants grow leaves, and somehow in a span of a magical month, everything is green again. And now, as I gaze around me, I’m greeted in all directions by the lushness of green. Who knew there were so many shades of green? Not to mention the flowers. Each walk I go, I discover a new bloom, a new kind of flower, a new scent. My heart is made so happy! And I am in awe of this unfolding that happens every year without fail, and that I get to be the witness to this beauty of transformation.
Each year seems to bring something new. This year, after living in our home for over 7 years, we saw a black bear in our back yard for the first time! It wasn’t large, but it had come to find seed at our bird feeder, which we then had to take down. In the last year and half, we have seen and learned the names of over 10 species of birds come to our yard, and listened to their calls and watched their way of patiently waiting for their turn at the feeder. In the roads around my home, I have taken countless walks. I have walked with friends, I have walked as a pregnant woman, as a new mother with my baby snug in the wrap next to me, as mom pushing the stroller with my child, more recently walking side-by-side with my daughter, and then sometimes like this morning, alone by myself. Life has come a full circle. And as I take each footstep up the hill lined with purple and yellow wild flowers, I know I am home.
So here is to the place closest to my heart, my home, the place I have lived longer than any other place in my life, the place that bears witness to my own transformation. I bow to you in gratitude and joy!
With love, S.