Posted tagged ‘recess’

“Winter slithers, autumn strolls, summer swims, spring skips.”

November 7, 2017

The sun is hiding. It was here earlier but it’s gone now. Today is chillier than it has been, but not chilly enough for the heat to be triggered. The clouds are white, and there is barely a breeze, but I’ll take the clouds rather than the usual cold of November.

When I was a kid, I rode my bike all year. Only the snow stopped me. The roads were seldom plowed all the way down to street so it was too slippery for bike wheels. It was sort of the same when I was walking to and from school. The sidewalks were shoveled by the people who lived beside them, not the town, so we’d hit parts which had never seen a shovel. Rather than get all snowy and wet, we’d move to the road and walk in the ruts. Sometimes we’d have to walk toe to heel because the ruts were so narrow. Sometimes we’d fall into the snow. We always laughed.

I really didn’t mind school all that much in the winter, but I really minded it in late spring and fall when the days were still warm and bright. All I could think of was I should be outside playing or riding my bike; instead, the best weather was being wasted, and a taste of the day at recess only made it worse. All I could do each school day was watch through my classroom windows as warm days withered away. We played when we got home from school but darkness came early, and the street lights were on by four. My mother didn’t care what time it was. She went with the street light curfew.

My town had so many trees bordering the streets and sidewalks that fallen leaves were everywhere. The ones on lawns were cleared and burned, but the rest sat in gutters or around tree trunks. Yellow and orange are the colors of fall to me.

Sometimes I still think of all the other seasons in colors. Spring is green, all different, varied greens. Summer is all colors especially reds and yellows, pinks and purples as the gardens come to life. Winter is white when it snows, and red and green at Christmas, but the rest of winter is mostly brown and grey. We’re almost there now.

“Recess and lunch are the best.”

November 3, 2015

Today is absolutely beautiful. The breeze is slight, the sun is strong and the temperature is in the 60’s. I think Gracie and I might be taking a ride later. I have a few errands to do then off we’ll go with no destination in mind, a ride just for the fun of it.

Every now and then we’d skip part of the way to school. There was a sense of exhilaration, of joy, when we’d skip. First we’d hop on one foot then we’d hop on the other and we’d keep hopping until we were so tired we had to stop. Skipping wasn’t as fast as running but it was faster than walking and was more fun. Learning to skip looked easy but it wasn’t. My feet seemed to get tangled in the hopping, and I’d lose the rhythm. Finally after many starts and stops I got my feet to work and I was finally a skipper.

Jumping rope was another one of those get your rhythm and your feet working together. We used to jump rope at recess. It was a single rope as none of us knew about double Dutch. We had rhymes we said while jumping. They helped us keep the cadence, the rhythm. I was okay at the slow jumping but once we hit the fast jumping, pepper, I was doomed. I always ended up being the rope swinger.

Probably around the sixth grade we stopped jump roping. We were on the second floor of the school and felt older. We thought jump roping was for kids. During recess we’d just stand around in small groups of friends and talk. Boys started to be a conversational item. We were still too young for dating but we were poring the foundation (sorry-that was the only analogy I could come up with). We’d decide who among the boys in our class was the cutest. We never talked about the nicest or the smartest. It was always the cutest.

“I call this season fake weather. The sun is shining but it cold like the north pole outside.”

February 6, 2015

Winter has us and is holding on far too tightly. Last night was way, way below freezing, a negative temperature with the wind chill. Today is not much better. The walk to the driveway and the mailbox is treacherous, icy and uneven. I take mincing steps. Cars driving on the street make crunching sounds on the icy road. Nothing is melting. More snow is coming starting on Sunday. I am numb from the onslaught.

I bought a pot of flowers yesterday, yellow dafs. They were beside the register and the color caught my eye. I so need more than white. I am so tired of snow. Today I think I’ll wear bright red.

My elementary school yard was mostly a parking lot for Sunday mass. There were two baskets only the boys could use and a green bicycle rack under the trees. In spring that’s where I parked my bike. During recess little kids chased each other and played tag while the girls jumped rope or just stood in groups talking. I was never a rope jumper.

We were directed by bells, hand-held gold bells with wooden handles. A bell would ring every hour, and we’d change subjects. Lunch began and ended with a bell. We’d hear the first bell, pull out our lunch boxes, get milk from the case in the front of the room and then sit down to eat and talk but only from our desks. A bit later another bell would ring and we’d go outside for recess, the only real break in our school day. We went out every day except when it was raining.

The older I got the less I liked recess. It was mostly boring and in winter it was really cold, never a consideration for calling off recess. My friends and I would stand there longing for the bell to call us back into the building. We didn’t care it meant back to work. We just knew it meant being warm again.

“We have lunch at ten-forty-five,” Colin said. A stupidly early lunch. At our school, the older you get, the stupider your lunch period.”

October 14, 2014

On my way back from an early morning meeting, I noticed how many trees have burst into color. I saw yellows and reds and one tree where the leaves were yellow on the edges and red in the middle. Several trees, though, still have green leaves including the ones in my backyard. Full color isn’t expected here on the Cape until close to the end of the month.

When I was a kid, there were no school buses. Everybody walked. The public elementary schools were scattered all over town, but my school was the only Catholic school, and some of my friends walked a mile or more to get there. None of them cared about the walk. It was just part of their day.

We didn’t have a cafeteria so either you went home for lunch or you brought your lunch. Milk was for sale as were candy bars. The milk came in those little containers which were always difficult to open. The candy was in a big lunch box, and you got to pick your bar. It was a nickel. The milk was only 3 cents. It was never really cold.

We had recess every day unless it was raining or single digit cold. Some of us would just stand in groups and talk, and there were always girls jump roping. The boys stayed on one side of the school yard and the girls on the other. It wasn’t a rule, just tradition. The basketball courts were on the boys’ side. They played half court games.

One of the best reasons to go to St. Patrick’s was we got all the holy days of obligation off from school. All Saint’s Day, November 1st, was famous because it was the day after Halloween. We didn’t care about the saints though we did have to go mass. We were just happy we could stay out later trick or treating.

I’d be freezing walking to and from school in the cold of winter and I’d get soaked if it rained. It didn’t matter. None of us ever complained. That’s the way it was back then.

“Education is wonderful – it helps you worry about things all over the world.”

September 2, 2013

Today is damp and cloudy. Maybe rain, even a v, is in the forecast. The whole weekend has been the same. I don’t think we had as many tourists for the weekend as usual. The forecast was spot on.

In kids’ parlance today is not Labor Day. It is the day before school starts. The buses roll tomorrow morning. My neighborhood has kids now, little kids, and four of them are headed to elementary school together: two to kindergarten, one to first grade and the oldest to second grade. They’re outside riding bikes now. I suspect their heads are not filled with images of new clothes, buses and the first day of school. They still have the look of summer about them.

The red spawn of Satan got the hose treatment again this morning. A short time later it was back but ran as soon as I walked on the deck. It didn’t take long for the hose and me to have an impact.

If I were to go back in time, to my elementary school days, I’d choose the fifth grade. We got bused for a while to the next town while the new school was finished. It was an adventure which also shortened the school day. We had the same hours as the rest of the school so we were on the bus for a part of the morning and a part of the afternoon. We always got back just as school was letting out for the day. In the spring we moved into the new school. My room was on the first floor. The nun I had that year was a jovial sort. She used to hand out pieces of candy as prizes. Seldom did she leave her desk chair to walk around the room so she’d toss the candy to the prize winner. She periodically had contests like who could list the most homonyms, now called homophones. I remember that contest because I won, and this was before computers. My prize was a miniature book with Bible verses. I was intrigued by the size of the book and not so much by the verses. I don’t remember what I learned that year, but I figure it was pretty the same as all the other years. Nouns and the other parts of speech never seemed to disappear and once we hit decimals and fractions they followed us everywhere. Columbia and coffee are forever linked. There was only so much geography. As for history, I have no idea what we studied in the fifth unless it was the Pilgrims, but in those days history sort of hopscotched all over the place.

We were still young in the fifth grade. We jumped rope during recess and giggled about boys. Fifth grade was when I punched the boy who constantly teased my friend and wouldn’t stop when asked, even nicely asked. That is probably my favorite memory of that year. I learned to stand up for friends and I learned I had a strong right.

“Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.”

March 12, 2012

The day is glorious. I have been outside sitting and reading the paper in the sun. Begrudgingly I came inside to write Coffee and hope for a quick inspiration so I can go back outside. Gracie has been in the yard all morning. This is her lie in the sun on the grass and take a nap sort of weather. Ah, the life of a pampered pet!

I know exactly why it is called a spring in your step, and I think it’s a metaphor having nothing to do with the verb spring. Today I feel more alive than I have. Today is warm and sunny and the sort of day which makes the heart sing. It is a hopeful day as spring always bring hope and a new beginning.

My garden is filled with shoots, and the first crocus is in bloom. It’s yellow. I can also see the knobs on the top of the hyacinth and two daffodils are tall and heavy with buds. The air smells sweet.

I used to love to walk to school on days like today. I’d shed my winter coat and mittens and wear only a sweater under my spring jacket. My friends and I always took our time walking when the weather was this beautiful as we knew we’d spend most of the day locked in and sitting at our desks. I used to look longingly out the windows and wish I were outside in the  sun. It seemed such a waste to be learning fractions when I could be running in the field with the warm sun on my face. Recess made it even nore difficult to go back into the building.

When I was in the 8th grade, I used to hide my lunch bag, no more lunch boxes at the sophisticated age of  thirteen, and I’d leave as if I were going home for lunch. My friend Jimmy, always a co-conspirator, came with me. We’d find a bench in the sun up the street near the town hall and eat lunch then we’d go back to school. Sometimes we were really late returning, long after the bell, and we’d tell Sister Hildergarde we were at the library or talking to some priest or other. She always nodded, and we’d take our seats. On a few really beautiful spring days we’d leave early telling some story about where we were going which Sister Hildergarde always bought. We were a clever pair, Jimmy and I, and maybe even a bit devious.

“A man may be a pessimistic determinist before lunch and an optimistic believer in the will’s freedom after it.”

September 28, 2010

It’s a warm day which can’t seem to make up its mind. We had sun then clouds, then sun again, and now it’s cloudy. The weatherman said maybe rain, and that’s the forecast for most of this week, maybe rain. Sebastian, the younger, worked on my garden all morning; he is the younger as Sebastian, the older, is my neighbor and the boss of the landscaping crew. The Sebastians are not related and share only a name and a nationality, Brazilian. The younger planted grass seed on bare spots, moved day lilies, cut down the dead flower stalks, trimmed bushes, weeded my herb garden, got rid of the mint and planted the mums I’d bought and be given as gifts. The garden has been readied for winter.

My mother made great school lunches. She never gave us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Most days we had bologna. On Friday it was tuna. On really cold days we had hot soup in our thermoses. Chicken noodle was a favorite. I remember my lunchboxes always had wire holders to keep the thermos from moving around and breaking, but one year the thermos broke anyway. I still remember how scared and horrible I felt hearing the sound of the glass shaking inside the thermos. That was the year of no soup. My mother sometimes put in potato chips and she always included dessert. The days after she had grocery shopped were the best for desserts. We’d get a Hostess cupcake or a sno-ball. Later in the week we’d get cookies wrapped in plastic, usually Oreos. We didn’t get fruit all that much, an apple every once in a while. I used to buy my milk. Just before lunch, a milk crate filled with cartons was delivered to the room. The milk was always in one of those small waxy cartons which were never easy to open. Good thing they gave us a straw.

We used to keep our lunchboxes under our seats. They never went in the cloak room. When the lunch bell rang, it meant we could talk and soon enough we’d be running outside for recess. For some reason I remember the fourth grade the best when my seat was in the back and my lunchbox was plaid.

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