The concerned mom followed me through the parking lot of the preschool one morning. “Umm, Dorothy?” she began, “Justin is in a tank top and shorts.” We had recently become acquaintances and had just dropped off our sons to the same classroom.
My eyes may have tightened in question although I’m sure my smile widened. I finished fastening my daughter into her car seat and assured my new friend that Justin had indeed dressed himself in the observed outfit. She faltered, then blurted, “It’s October–it’s too cold for that.”
I don’t know what my exact response was that not-exactly-chilly morning, but the exasperation in my head must not have made it to my mouth because our friendship outlasted the preschool years. I glanced around at the other moms in their jeans and light sweaters with interest. Hmm, With the summer temperatures, I hadn’t noticed it was supposed to be Fall.
An unusually hot and humid July had spread her sticky arms wide when our family unloaded the moving van to Ocala and began to load the cabinets. The sweat rolling down Mark’s back as he changed the license plates surprised us. Our faces beaded up just getting into the car. Popsicles moved from the “occasional treat” to a necessity in our minds. You know, the usual, but worse. We might’ve rethought this move to the sunshine state except for the job and the unfathomably blue skies we were gifted every day. The cooler weather of Florida October was still warm to this Midwestern Girl.
The clothing in question would’ve been very appropriate for the temperature in Illinois. The discussion in our northern preschool would’ve been about crazy Indian Summers and whether it would be snowing this year at Halloween. Granted, by the next school year, my acclimated children no longer pulled out tank tops and they preferred the ubiquitous flip flop when not in school. When truly cold weather rolled into Ocala the following year (with temperatures in the audacious 60s; Brrrr), we were totally vested in this summer-all-winter lifestyle which did not include jackets, snow pants, boots, wet socks, mittens, hats or scarves. I often thought, “Getting into the car was way too easy; what or who is missing?”
Each season brings with it an anticipation and a familiarity. We Ocalans know it’s time to plant spring gardens when the pink of Valentine’s Day melts into Saint Patrick’s Day green. We know the Fall snowbirds have returned as we see a fluff of blue-white behind the steering wheel of the car ahead of us. We (now) realize tank tops are mostly for the five months in the middle of the year. Each season has its own delight and the things we look forward to are often what we find.
As our oldest grandchild heads into his first year of school, he has none of the angst my daughter-in-law carries as she packs his mask and loads up on hand sanitizer. He assumes this is how school’s been done every year since his daddy wore a tank top to preschool. His mom, on the other hand, sighs tiny bits of grief as she makes his sandwich and remembers her school days with little heads giggling closely over projects on their class table. His seasons will be new and fresh and okay. He’ll own new delights in the rhythms he learns to anticipate.
Our family is also sending three “seasoned students” into brand new school experiences this year. While our high school Seniors grudgingly pick mask colors, they’re actually looking forward to the lack of carrying textbooks to and from their lockers. They like the shortened class day and the ability to work a few more hours at their jobs. Our middle school student bemoans the lack of integrated chapel but is excited about choosing her electives. We can look for the good things to be found in the new schedule and expectations placed before us.
I am praying that the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace as we believe in Him so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit this school year. (Rom 15:13) I plan to stop long enough to enjoy the amazing blue skies that astonished me our first year in Florida and also look for new things in this school year that may become our new favorites. I’m certain my family will have a list of the wonderful things from this school year that we’ll hope to become our new normals. We’ll be going into it with eyes looking for the good, and I’m convinced, we’ll find it.
AS parent and Board Member, ASI