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October 5, 2010

Every morning I stand at the gates of school, well the metaphorical gates, I’m actually on the black top.  My girls and I arrive at school before almost everyone except the teachers, who we roll in behind in the parking lot. The campus is still and silent. I open bathroom , my kitchen and  the parent cottage doors. Our little school is nestled in a canyon and we are surrounded by homes and tall trees that early in  morning the sun hasn’t reached to begin to fully warm us up, even in this warm fall. The dew is still on the spider webs we marvel at. Somewhere a little bell tinkles and we gather for morning verse from Calendar of the Soul. I wear my apron, my official uniform on campus, and watch the children begin to stream in. This morning the misty rain that perplexes us after last week’s 113* weather assault ,fell softly and made the campus softly muffled except for the slick sound of tires on parking lot asphalt. I wander the campus anticipating.

The younger they are the more they skip. It seems that the pull of gravity increases by grade and once you hit 8th grade your can merely shuffle along, head bowed. There is some disease in 8th grade boys that doesn’t permit them to tie their shoes, it also affects kindergarten boys. Someone should get a grant to research this disease and put an end to floppy, listless laces, for I fear it is contagious. ( in this picture I made him tie the other one, just too painful)

They trickle in slowly at first, lunch bags carefully packed and I’m sure lovingly prepared are tossed to the pavement so a game of tether ball or tag may begin. So much for that sandwich and good luck to those chips. Then, the rate of incoming picks up, by now I am circling the  back of the campus to encourage the wanderers to head on out to the black top where there is supervision. The whole reason they are at the back of the campus is to avoid supervision so I am not met with joy. Eye rolls and sighs and off they shuffle and s-l-o-w-l-y meander to the front yard. And then we meet again in a few moments back where I first found them and where I just roll my eyes back at them and they move on. Some of these evaders I’ve knowns since they were in early grades. There are audible  sighs, not all are mine.

The kindergarteners are my favorite, they are hanging off the railings  itching to get in the classroom, asking me when the bell will ring, sharing their latest adventures form yesterday. 4th  grade received their violins last week and the screech of beginning learners floats around the laughter and hello’s. this is last week’s concert.

7th started guitar, or ukulele and some are strumming off to the side. 1st graders are about to explode to tell me about the knitting needles they sanded yesterday and did I know they are knitting this year. A scarf as tall as they are. look , look. Yes ,I say, I know, you will make a rainbow scarf as tall as you are, how wonderful it will be and how warm it will keep you.

3rd grade would like to know what we are cooking today. Foccacia to go with the birthday lunch for our administrator, but shhh its a surprise.

Finally its time to ring the first bell. I walk over to the bell tower  usually with a small friend and Harmony who would like to help me pull the bell’s rope. The tower was built by a 3rd grade a few years ago.

We pull it 11 times, the number of years our school has been around. Suddenly the yard has come to life, they are really moving now, they need to get to the ramp and shake their teachers hand  before I ring the bell again and doors close.Its a quick 5 min. The parking lot is packed with circling cars. Hurry , hurry,  off in the lot I can hear  my girlfriend Sylvia telling children and parents,pull forward ,good morning. Sometimes Coach and Order help out. The administrator is walking around “you can make it, hustle up”. And then the running starts. Full throttle forward tilt ,lunch box swinging, mom hustling behind. 2 minutes I tell them, if you hurry you’ll make it. It’s time, I try to hedge a little so the late ones have a chance, but there it is. The alarm on my phone beeps to let me know.

11 more times I pull the rope ,alone this time, unless I have pre-schooler helping me. Every morning I swear to bring ear plugs for tomorrow. Our bell is an old-fashioned cast iron school bell and loud when you’re under the bell tower. In just a few moments its quiet again. The sun is up enough that you can feel how warm or cool the day will be. Today, not so much it misty rained all day. Fairy rain.

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