Fall Break began Friday afternoon, and I have a week away from my students’ faces. Today, though, I spend a couple of hours grading papers, planning lessons, entering grades, responding to students’ emails, and editing and uploading articles for the middle school newspaper.
Stephan is incredibly busy trying to get his business moved from the small warehouse he has been renting for six years to the pole barn on our property. It has taken more time and money than he anticipated. I’ve been wanting to help, but there is so much I don’t know how to do. I try to remind myself that I can help by making sure his laundry is done, by cooking dinner and cleaning up, by taking care of the dogs. I can help by making sure that he doesn’t have to worry about those things.
He always wants me to relax, though. “It’s your fall break,” he said. “You should take it easy.”
It’s hard for me to take it easy when he’s working so hard and feeling stressed out.
So I volunteer to make Monday Night Dinner. That doesn’t seem like much, but it is something.
I finish my schoolwork for the day, and I plan to go out on the porch to write. And then I remember that months ago, I planned to mend something that belongs in Stephan’s shop. I put down my notebook and my pen and I go to put an iron-on patch on the item.
And then I find out that the item is not safe for ironing, and I melt a big hole in the fabric.
Plan B quickly forms, and I patch the item by sewing a piece of cloth on the holes. Then I have to clean blue goo from my iron, then iron the rest of the clothes that have been waiting for a month to be ironed. Next, I assemble the item that I had repaired (for a few moments, I am sure the cover has shrunk in the wash, but I finally get it on the frame.)
I return to the house, realize that I might not have enough beans soaking for the bean soup, and so add more. Will mung beans taste okay in navy bean soup? I don’t think more navy beans would have time to soak enough to be soft for dinner, so mung beans it is. I really should have planned this out better. Just like I really should have tested the iron on a small part of that fabric instead of just plopping the whole hot metal appliance on top of the melty fabric.
Back to the barn to see if Stephan needs more help. I have only an hour to spare before I need to start cooking, but he gives me one small job to accomplish. I am on the verge of another, but then the ice delivery arrives, so I am dismissed back to the house. (I likely would be in the way of the four or five guys unloading three-hundred-pound blocks of ice.)
Toss the rest of the bag of mung beans into the bowl of soaking beans, and now I have no idea how much is actually in there and whether I will need to add more of everything else. Chop up the carrots and onions, and since I don’t have celery, dig in the cupboard for celery seed (will it taste the same? Who cares? With the mung beans added, it won’t be the same anyway), add the garlic. Unload the dishwasher.
I sit down for a few minutes and try to write. It’s not the best writing, for sure. I’m feeling nervous about the bean soup, even though I know our guests won’t complain even if it’s a weird soup. I’m noticing the temperature fall as the clouds cover the sky and my wind chime continually sings in the constant breeze. I’m wondering if the noise of it bothers my neighbors. I’m realizing I should probably take a shower before I get dinner started.
I turn and glance out the window to see the bright golden maple tree in the back yard, the leaves fluttering to the ground in the wind.
I think that perhaps I should have mowed today.
People come for dinner, and the soup is fine. We talk, we clean up, and they leave. I sit in the living room, listening to the sound of hammering and the whine of the circular saw from the barn. The breeze blows through the house, ruffling the papers on the bulletin board and fluttering the leaves of the houseplants.
The first day of fall break is nearly over.