Thursday, June 21, 2007

Retreating into the Summer

As principal of our little school, I don't get the "summer off" the way most people think I do. When I was "just" a teacher, it made me laugh when people would ask me if I was looking forward to my "summer off." I'd always think to myself that these people must not have much contact with teachers, because if they did, they'd know that teachers are always "on."

Even if I wasn't going to school every day, I was always thinking about school, or going to school myself. A mere trip to the local Hallmark store, for example, would find me perusing the cards more for bulletin board ideas than the birthday card I was originally going for.

For the past 12 summers, I've worked full-time at the school, often only taking the 4th of July off, although recently I've done better about taking the weeks off that were coming to me. You can't stock pile them, and there is no overtime here. In the end, it's not all that heroic to deprive myself of recovery time, so I've learned to take my time when I can (and should).

Now that I'm principal, it's a little more stressful than when I was just there to recruit. In the past two weeks, for example, we've discovered a leaky oil tank (that was replaced for $500) and a defective place in the roof. I'm hoping that will be fixed for free (warranty). I don't enjoy all the maintenance stuff, as I don't have a lot of experience with it. I'm fortunate to have a reliable and knowledgeable volunteer who helps me quite a bit.

I've decided to take one week of vacation and spend it with my parents in Maine this year. Their place is as beautiful a retreat as any I might find in other parts of the country with the added bonus of my very dearest friends. My mother and I are already planning out our days. We are going to spend a couple of days at Boothbay Harbor, wandering the waterfront and visiting the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (248 acres of oceanside gardens!). We're also going to go out to Star Island off the coast of Porstmouth, NH in the Isle of Shoals to see Celia Thaxter's gardens. (Celia is a fascinating poet and artist as well. If you've not read her work, check it out. You might enjoy it. ) I've been there a couple of times before but my parents have never been there. We'll take a cruise along the coast to see several of the area lighthouses as well.

The other days I think we'll just stay at home reading, writing, talking, relaxing. I hope to transfer my slides of my very first trip to Europe (a 10-week literary tour through 11 countries) some 30 years ago. I want to make power point presentations about the author homes and poetry-inspirations for my English literature class this coming year. I might even paint some!!!

Can't wait.

Photos: Childe Hassam's impressions of Celia Thaxter, her gardens, and the Isle of Shoals

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