Fresh and foggy start

Irene came and went, and left autumn in her wake.

Unlike so many in Vermont, we are lucky and had no water damage at all. We never even lost power. The only thing we lost was a day of school, which was more a bonus day of summer than a loss.

This morning is foggy. All that water everywhere—the filled valleys, the swollen rivers, the overflowing ponds—lifting up into the sky.

The White Building in Fog

There’s a chill in the air, too. And maple leaves down on the ground for the goats to munch.

Guess it’s time to get back to business. Time to put that backpack on and start back to learning. Time to grow up a little more.

First day of 7th grade

The house is so quiet. I cannot wait to hear the day’s report at 2.00 this afternoon.

Update: Day 1 was a success. She greeted me with a big smile and lots of stories of the day. Onward.

A star danced

August 12.

Once upon a very long time ago, a man and a woman sat on a swing set near midnight in far northeastern Maine, watching the Perseid meteors overhead and planning their future adventures. The immediate adventure was a backpacking trip across Europe a year from then, but, that night, the adventure grew larger, more serious, and more wonderful when they decided, yes, let’s get married while we’re at it.

200-odd years even longer ago, in 1761, under those same dancing stars, the nascent town of Thetford, Vermont, was born when King George III signed the royal charter that provided its name and its boundaries.

Fast-forward to another birth, on another August 12. It’s that dim in-between time—not quite night, but still a couple hours from dawn—when no one in their right mind is moving, no one and nothing but the shooting stars, and our new little girl.

On this August 12, our little girl is twelve years old.

Twelve

She knows a lot of things, this twelve-year-old, including things I would never have known without her. Here’s one: today is her Golden Birthday (the birthday when your age matches your birth date). I wish I’d known about Golden Birthdays when I was eight.

So, tonight we’ll celebrate a Golden Birthday, and our town’s birthday, and the anniversary of that night on the swing set, and we’ll hope for clear starry skies, and a meteor or two on which we can hang our wshes for many more happy August 12ths to come.

Magic

You know what today is, right?

This afternoon, Hyla and I are driving down to Western, MA to join some friends for the midnight showing of the final installment of the Harry Potter movies.

In honor of the event, we made t-shirts to wear to the show.

Hyla is a witty Ravenclaw.

Wit Beyond Measure

(“Wit Beyond Measure is Man’s Greatest Treasure. Which Makes you Pretty Skint, Witless.”)

She long ago informed me that I’m a Hufflepuff, and, after doing some research, I agree. Suits me to a “T”.

We're Hufflepuff and We're Proud

That sound you hear? That’s the sound of an almost 12-year-old girl literally vibrating with excitement. Seeing the last of 8 movies made from her favorite books, in 3D, with one of her best friends, and then staying overnight at a hotel that has a pool — can she get closer to kid heaven than that? Well, only if the cats could come along. (And her father, who really ought to be the accompanying parent, but for work and other practical reasons is staying home tonight.)

She’s got her robes, wand, and invisibility cloak packed. Books, bathing suit, change of clothes. Italy was grand and all, but for H, this trip is pure magic.

Saying goodbye to the little school on the hill

Open Fields School is a special little elementary school on the hill. It’s as near to a one-room school house as you can find around here. Most years, the school’s population comprises about 20 students — kindergarten through sixth grade — three teachers, and Woody, the school dog.

OFS graduation - Woody Guthrie Wheaton

Open Fields is a school that encourages independent learning, imaginative play, a general love of learning, and cooperation and interaction between all students. In the winter, the whole school goes sledding on the big hill nearby. In warm weather, everyone is out in the field, playing capture the flag and freeze tag, or one of dozens of games they make up themselves (Warrior Cats, dragons, ice sculptures…). Little ones and big ones, they’re all in it together, both on the swing set and in the classroom. The big kids read books to the little ones, and the little ones idolize the big ones.

Hyla was a little one once, falling in love with sixth grade girls who were kind enough to spend time with her. This year, she was the one reading books to the kindergarteners.

OFS graduation - Friends meet on the battlefield

In the seven years that Hyla attended Open Fields, I can’t remember a day when she didn’t want to go to school. She loves that place. We all do. It did right by us. We have a happy girl who loves learning, adores reading, is not afraid to question her teachers or other adults, and is socially at ease with all sorts of people.

Last Friday, Hyla and her fellow sixth-graders graduated from the school on the hill.

OFS graduation - Banner

In spite of threatening weather forecasts, we had a hot, sunny day. The families picnicked in the yard, the kids ran around, and then the graduating class took its place at the swing set. The ceremony was sweet and to the point: they have learned and grown so much; they have contributed as much to the school as they have received; and they will be missed.

OFS graduation - Graduated

Not half as much as we will miss you, Open Fields. Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you’ve given us. It was all just about exactly as we had dreamed it would be.

OFS graduation - Our grown-up girl

Movin’ on up

Today, our sixth grader is participating in “Step Up” day.

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In the middle of the day, she and the rest of the incoming 7th grade class (the class of 2017!) will be met on the town green by current 7th graders and their teachers and will walk as a group to the middle school for a couple hours of introductions, tours, and a free lunch at the cafeteria (this last part is particularly exciting). Later this afternoon, the newly minted middle schoolers will walk back to their elementary schools to finish out the day, course registration forms and booklets in their hands.

How the heck did this happen? When did she get old enough to go to SEVENTH grade? To have an important event take place WITHOUT her PARENTS? How are we going to make it through graduation next week without melting into a helpless puddle of tears and memories.

Where is the Pause button?

I know. This is just another point on the long arc of Letting Go’s. We have seen some before, and there will be more — and bigger — to come. Get used to it.

At least I know that while her parents are sitting at their desks this afternoon, wondering and worrying and waiting, she’ll be having a blast. Our Confident Rabbit.

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