– I put up my first canner of tomatoes this week. After a slow start, our garden full of tomato plants gave us a bushel and a half’s worth last week, and something must be done with that many tomatoes. Last year was my first year canning tomatoes on my own (though “on my own” means constant calls to my mother to make sure I’m doing everything right). This year, I just needed to call to remember how long to keep the tomatoes boiling. And every jar sealed, which is just the most satisfying feeling. Hopefully, this will be the first of many, as my mother’s not canning whole tomatoes this year, so we’re on our own in supplying ourselves with tomatoes over the long winter.
– On Monday, my husband, father, brother and I went to a Reds’ game. My husband had bid on and won a super, local sports package at a fundraiser for Girls, Inc., and it included some very nice seats to the Reds’ game on Monday. My husband is a baseball fanatic, but I remember the first Reds’ game I went to with my soon-to-be-husband was the first Reds’ game I’d ever been to without my dad. I know a lot more about baseball now than I did when I was little (for love of my husband, I sat through all 18 hours of Ken Burns documentary), but, as is probably true for a lot of people, baseball will always be a sport that makes me think of my dad. The sound of baseball on the radio is the sound of weekends with my dad, following him around as he did his various projects and begging him to help, which now forms the totality of my experience with fixing things. Or going to at least one Reds’ game every year on the free tickets we got for getting straight A’s in school, and Dad showing us how to keep the score card. And, of course, Dad playing catch with us, teaching us how to hit a ball, catch a ball, and suck it up when you got hit in the chest with a baseball and it knocked the wind out of you. When you watch 18 hours of a documentary about baseball, you discover that for most folks, the love the baseball is really about the love of their fathers. It was good to be watching a game again with Dad.
|It stormed a bit at the game, too|
– The summer is waning even for us free and frolicsome college professors. Syllabi must be worked on and meetings will begin the week before classes start on Labor Day. It becomes harder and harder to deny that I will soon, in fact, have to go back to work. My sabbatical will really and truly be over. What will happen then?
Everyone keeps asking whether I’m ready for classes to start, or looking forward to classes starting. And I have to confess, at the beginning of my sabbatical, I thought I would miss my job, and I didn’t particularly. Like any job, it’s easy as a professor to become bogged down in all the things that have nothing to do with your students or the classroom. I work at a college that is thankfully all about the teaching; I couldn’t survive long at a research institution. But even so, it’s easy to get tangled up in many things that are not at all about teaching. And it’s easy to fall into something of a rut with your teaching, so that sometimes you look at your syllabus and think, “Why am I doing that? Why did I ever decide to do that in the first place?” But when you’re caught up in the constant cycle of the school year, you don’t often get time to reflect on why you’re doing what you’re doing. And that’s a good thing about sabbatical.
So I guess I’ll go back. And perhaps take a little bit of my sabbatical with me, in the form of knitting and fiddling and, of course, blogging.
I write to give my life a form, a narrative, a chronology; and, for good measure, I seal loose ends with cadenced prose and add glitter where I know things were quite lusterless. I write to reach out to the real world, though I know that I write to stay away from a world that is still too real and never as provisional or ambivalent as I’d like it to be. In the end it’s no longer, and perhaps never was, the world that I like, but writing about it. I write to find out who I am; I write to give myself the slip. I write because I am always at one remove from the world but have grown to like saying so.