Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day and Back-to-School Muffins

I've been away from the blog for a while, thinking maybe I'd finally adjusted to our empty nest (or fretting that I'd gone on far too long about the struggle). But I'm realizing two things: 1) I'll probably never fully adjust, and 2) this season in life (every season in life?) is just one change and one challenge after another. So I'm back, trying to come to terms with my life by writing about it.

For years I've made cranberry-apple-carrot muffins every fall when bags of fresh cranberries first appear in the produce department. I make a batch or two, then cranberries disappear from the grocery store (and I never remember to freeze any), and that's it for another year. Last fall I made a batch when the kids were home, but we didn't end up eating many of them, so I froze the leftovers and Steve and I started taking them in our lunches. When we finished the batch, we missed having them for lunches, so I made more and more until all the cranberries were gone. I tried making other kinds of muffins to take their place, but none were quite as good. Eventually, I tried substituting extra apples and carrots for the missing cranberries, and they were still good! I made batch after batch right up until the end of June. This morning, I mixed up the first batch of the new school year. Then it hit me: tomorrow is Steve's last first day of school; he's retiring at the end of the year. My mind tumbled back through the years as I thought about the way the call from Silver Creek came just in the nick of time in August of 1988--right before I accepted the back-breaking, low-paying job I'd been offered at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.  For the past twenty-nine years, the new year has begun for us not in snowy January but under the blue skies and bright sun of late August/early September. Sure, our back-to-school preparations have changed over the years. I've had to gradually (and grudgingly) adjust to the fact that back-to-school shopping means picking up a new pair of reading glasses rather than buying crayons or calculators or dorm-room bedding. And I've accepted that getting ready for lunch packing means making healthy muffins rather than stocking up on Fruit by the Foot and Fritos. But I can't quite imagine what Labor Day is going to feel like next year when it's not the-day-before-the-first-day-of-school for Steve or how I'll ever get used to not going back to school each August when my own teaching career comes to an end. For now, I guess we'll do what we've always done: take it a day at a time and figure things out as we go along. As for rest of this quiet Labor Day, I think I'll relax, eat a muffin, and get ready to wish Steve a happy last first day of school!


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