A Year of Morning Thanks
Teaching--during the summer, that is
For most of my life, I've been mocked unmercifully for summer vacations, but then I live among Calvinists, most of whom believe that work--getting-one's-hands-dirty work--is the only true measure of saving grace. To have three or four months off every year, as teachers do, seems to most of them to be a sin. The fact is, the truly righteous are damnably guilty of one of the seven deadlies--envy. But then, because they work all summer, most of them believe the sweat of their brows simply places them beyond transgression.
The first year I lived out "in these parts," as old-time Westerns used to say, I simply lied. When asked by my beefy softball team members what a young prof like me was going to do now that summer had arrived, I told them I was going to work for my father-in-law, an Iowa farmer. That answer saved me from the silent derision and strange looks I would have suffered had I told them that I was "writing." Thirty-plus years later, most people now understand that writing is what I do because I have a track record; but when I didn't, most of them would have simply thought me as slothful as any other teacher.
Shoot, I've got that perception in me myself. If I sit around all morning and write, by afternoon I've got to mow the lawn or do something else to work up a sweat or I start feeling indolent. Somehow a teachers' three free months still feels a little like an abomination, even to me. But not much.
We're midway through summer's full glow--the Fourth has passed so we're no longer ascending, but the days are already getting shorter and sweet corn's not in yet so neither have we truly arrived. It's early July, and I flat-out love summer, just love it. Summer may well be the best reason to seek the profession of teacher. I'm getting my work done, and loving it. I'm doing what I want to do, and I won't worry much about what others need of me until the first week of August, when, slowly, this heavenly stretch of free time draws to an unforgiving end.
Right now, today, this early July, I'm just thankful I'm a teacher.