October 2   Change of seasons

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It seems impossible that it is more than a month since I wrote a post. I apologize to my loyal readers. The start up of the school year is an all-consuming process. It reminds me of a large water bird that has been resting on the water all summer and as the year cycles into September it begins to seek the air currents again. It lumbers, an ungainly sight, on the surface of the water, slowly extending its wings and when it has reached a respectable speed, folds its legs into its body and slowly ascends into the sky, where it gracefully takes flight.

Here on our New England campus we have almost ascended into flight, a few more wing beats (measured in days and weeks) will see us aloft until June.

The days are shorter, but the leaves are late in turning this year. Maybe a month of drought in August that painted our lawns a golden Californian color, has affected the cycle of leaf chemistry? Several times a week I walk in the 200 year old cemetery near where I live. The trees are magnificent, 100 year old oaks, beeches, pines and others set amid the 17th century tomb stones. Sometimes one has to think of life and cycles in centuries and not days and weeks, this season and the next.

In class this week we discussed philosopher Peter Singer’s work that birthed the animal rights movement. In the last period of the day on Friday, one of my students articulated why Singer is so adamant that animal liberation is actually about human liberation. It was a beautiful moment of absolute clarity, such moments are what teachers live for. The students had been animated all week about issues on this topic. I asked them why they are responding in such a visceral and vociferous manner. They explained that this is the first time they are encountering these issues and they are working through their emotions and responses. It behooves us all to remember that dawning awareness is also cyclical and encountered generation by generation.

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