Today I mowed the lawn for the second time since returning from vacation the last week of July. I guess that says a lot for how dry our summer has been in Cincinnati. It also says a lot about what my yard looks like right now. If you like browns and tans, my lawn is the place for you. To be honest, I don't spend a lot of energy worrying about grass, which has this powerful ability to revive in the fall and spring. My time, energy, and water end up in my garden beds, primarily my vegetable beds. While those don't look spectacular either, they have been keeping me somewhat busy and fed. A few varieties of heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, jalepenos and chili peppers, along with lots of Italian and cinnamon basil, parsley, oregeno, rosemary, and tarragon have kept our summer table interesting. Earlier in the spring we could barely keep up with the broccoli, lettuces, radishes, and a few heads of cabbage to boot. I'm hoping to pick another round of my eggplants soon as well as a late planting of green beans. There have been disasters too. If not for the catepillars, I'd have had a lot more cabbage and plenty of cauliflower. I've also made some bad decisions about location, crowding out my eggplant and shading my peppers because of over zealous tomato plants. Timing was my biggest error this year. I got a nice spring garden going but not early enough and I didn't clear it out for summer planting soon enough to get things established before I left on vacation. So too much of my beds remained fallow this year. But I think the reason I like gardening so much is no matter how badly I fail, no matter what experiments do not work, come March and April, or maybe even February if I start from seed, I have a whole new opportunity for success unimagined. Like the beginning of Genesis, where God makes order out of Chaos, tending to even a small plot of land awakenss in me something powerful, maybe even a facet of the Divine image shining through. In the garden, after every failure, hope of new life awaits in even the smallest seed.
I think that same awareness arises in me during the dog days of August. Because even though there is still the kid in me that wants summer vacation to go on forever, the academic side of me knows that with the opening of the school year, a new season has begun. A new school year brings a fresh slate, cleaner than any January 1. All the things I wish I did better, all the ways I'd like to grow, all the opportunities unexplored, all the relationships I'd love to develop, all the students I hope to invest in, all the programs envisioned for the future, sit before me as possibilities when another year begins. Teachers adjust classes from last year's successes and failures. Students who dug themselves holes can often begin again on top. Mistakes are in the past. Bad habits can be broken. New heights can be reached. We can begin new paths that lead to places unimagined.
It's an exciting time to be in a school.