Monday, September 19, 2011

Autumn's Songs


           Fall doesn’t seem so bad when I think that this is the last time I’ve got to go over classroom rules with my students; this is the last of the teacher’s meetings; this is the last time I have to put up scalloped borders and give integer quizzes at lunch. I only have to make it to March and then it’ll be over.
As much as this thought presses me to the finish line, I wonder if I’ll miss the long chats with Natalie Fikejs or the regimented bell schedule or the laughter in the teacher’s lounge or seeing Gretchen Stevens everyday. Will I transition into that odd state of parenthood where the adults actually look forward to the primary-colored “Back to School” signs? How backwards!
As of now the only autumn comfort is Grandma Taylor’s. She loves fall as much as I hate it, and I think her love dulls my hate. It’s hard to hate any season in Grandma Taylor’s house because each one comes with the change of the colors: the pillows, the dishes, the flowers, the candles, the tablecloths, and napkins. Last Thursday she ran the AC particularly cold, so a cup of hot tea with my pumpkin muffin was a cozy comfort.
Dear Autumn, if you look like this, you may come and replace the August heat with your crispy curled leaves on my Boston ivy and angled sun blinding me through my living room window, and… well… and shorter days, I suppose, but I’ll still hold those against you.
Everything seems to start back up in autumn, which is strange because the annuals are getting ready to die. The church choir is back in session. We had our first all-day practice a few Saturday’s ago, and afterwards I had a sore throat. Jack Shwarts rattled off his jokes without a hint of a smile. “We’re running a little late so I hope you’re all prepared to stay until 6pm.” “How many of you remember this piece? Then why aren’t you doing better?”
The roofers were up above us knock-knocking for several hours while we sang, but that didn’t stop us. Our voices rang louder against the competition. It felt good to be back in the loft with a stack of old music on my lap. The covers are a mixture of 70’s colors, pastoral scenes, and Christian symbols. The words jump into life more vividly because there’s a new believer sitting among us. I wonder what she thinks about this Lord Most High. Does she see that He is her salvation? Does she know that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength? Does she see that it is enough that Jesus died for me? Is it well with her soul.
For the sake of public decency I held back tears, which come too often these days. Nothing like people asking me what’s wrong when nothing’s wrong at all, but emotional tidal waves caused by chemical imbalances. Music triggers it.
We’re singing the words that I should’ve been saying last month. These are the words that preachers don’t say: the psalms to music, old hymns, truth put to the soul’s tune. I wonder if the… um… the…you know…the bean…can feel the vibrations of the words.