I arrived home yesterday with a car packed with produce and smelling powerfully of onions--a bucket full of leeks and sprouts, plus tomatoes and winter squash, all from Angela's Wellington garden; cider and bags of apples from North Star Orchard in Madison, where I hadn't stopped since I moved south, but this time I did, and they still remembered me, and that felt really good.
Oh, it was lovely up north. I began my day at 7:30 a.m., driving on the gravel road from Wellington to Kingsbury, where I stopped and took a rainy foggy photo of the pond--our swimming spot for so many years--and texted it to the boys. Then I turned right onto Route 16, which is paved but desolate--miles of trees, an occasional log truck roaring past, but mostly silence and fog and low sky and rain and the fading palette of autumn. Route 16 eventually teed into Route 15, the route north toward Moosehead Lake, and there, in Abbott Village, I turned left and climbed the hills into Monson.
The day went as well as I could have hoped. The kids, all of them seniors, were extremely engaged: they talked, they wrote hard, they shared, they asked questions. When they weren't with me, they were drawing with Alan Bray, and he says they were equally goofy and focused and excited with him. It really was the perfect way to re-enter the world of the classroom.
So now here I am, back in Portland, in my little city house, fighting a small headache and thinking about all the stuff I need to do this weekend: plant bulbs, clean bathrooms, wash sheets, read contest manuscripts, trim up those masses of Brussels sprouts I brought back in the car. The Red Sox lost their last game of the season, sad but inevitable, so now winter is truly on its way, and I'm okay with that. The house stores are filled, the firewood is stacked and at the ready, the books are waiting to be read.
On Thursday evening, in Wellington, as Steve and Ang and I lay around in the living room watching/semi-dozing through a football game--a companionable family unit, cozy and unself-conscious--I thought, again, about the treasure of the present moment . . . not constantly regretting the past or fearing the future, but merely existing, and attending to that existence. It's impossible to do, except in glimpses, or flashes: to say Here I am and then just be there. But I feel like, over the past couple of days, I've been able to stop and capture that sensation multiple times: in front of the game, on the road up to Monson, in the room with the students. So in addition to being happy that all went well with my work, I also feel a leftover glow from that attentiveness. As if I accomplished my actual, real, deep-down job. Which just seems to be noticing.