Of course the clock is ticking. It’s always ticking. It just seems that this time of year the ticking gets louder when you realize that winter is coming. Obviously, most of the country will scoff at Floridians who use the word winter to describe the months of December through March and in this heat those Floridians will have a hard time even remembering what winter is. Their memory will be compromised in fevered brains as they try to navigate the delirious summer haze of the Target parking lot without having a stroke. It’s easy to forget about frosty mornings when the daily rainstorm has left the asphalt literally steaming. Nevertheless, frosty mornings are coming and even cold hardy crops need to be established before it gets cold. Therefore, we’re planting seeds and we’re planting lots of them.
Here we go again. The first day of school is a new verse to a very old song. Pencils are sharpened. The walls have a fresh coat of paint. There may even be 64 crayons in the box. It all seems so new,….. but is it really? Yes and no. The thrill/terror of entering a new classroom on the first day is anything but new. OJA has been doing this for a while and has had over one hundred “first days”, each with its share of excitement. Because of this, Monday won’t really be the first day of school. It won’t be new…. and yet it will be. It will be “new” because it’s a long first walk from the car to the classroom for many of our students (and an even longer walk back to the car for many of our parents) “New” is a big deal. There’s been a palpable buzz on campus as teachers have prepared their classrooms because “new” is a big deal. Even the eighth graders, who have been here for a while, recognize Monday’s importance because “new” is a big deal. It’s a new chance, a fresh start, a clean slate, but it is, again, an old school. It’s an old school with a rich culture, one that’s taken years to develop. Generations of parents, teachers, church members and friends have invested the resources that make OJA what it is today, a place where children are challenged and comforted, a place where excellence isn’t just expected it’s anticipated and celebrated, a place where students are loved. OJA is an old place that makes “new” a big deal.
It’s just like the garden. (Come on, you knew that was coming.) Now is the time to start our fall/winter garden with a seed planting blitz. It’s hard to look at a fresh plot of black soil raked smooth and not think: “clean slate” or hold a tiny seed between your fingers and not think: “brand new” or smell the rain and not think: “fresh start”. It all seems so new…. but is it really? The complex history within a handful of our garden soil could be discussed for days. The seeds that we plant are the inherited product of generations of farmers and gardeners who selected and saved seeds; each year planting only the best of the previous years crop. Even the rain has been through countless cycles of condensation and evaporation before falling on our patch. Gardens are old with a rich culture that’s taken years to develop. Children have been learning to grow food for a very long time, but anytime a child pulls their first carrot out of the ground the whole world seems brand new. Our garden isn’t new……but it is and “new” is a big deal.