It's hard to believe school's already back in. Summer crashes into fall without regard for anything. Maybe there hasn't been time for vacation, or maybe you don't have your school clothes out, or maybe you're not quite back under roof just yet, but here it is fall, deceptively subtle with only a yellow leaf or two to show for it.
School bus didn't come out to the campground, so Dad drove us in and I showed up to seventh grade smelling like cigarette smoke and campfire smoke and the early red maple leaves I'd crunched under bare feet the evening before. It was tough to reconcile school breakfast, syrupy French Toast sticks, with the previous day's dinner of hot dogs on actual sticks, blackened till they blistered. It was tough to reconcile school company -- girls with neat hair, teased bangs, and purposely-ripped-up jeans -- with my evening company of sisters in swimsuits and tangles.
My pre-algebra homework was half-finished because other things seemed much more important the evening before. I missed the lake, more than half drained now because of a drought downriver. I missed elementary school, with its neat math problems I understood, printed on wide-ruled paper. I sensed change, something deeper than autumn.
I spent days gazing out of classroom windows, unaccustomed to being indoors. I spent nights under the stars, hazy through the campfire smoke, thinking of better things than math. I was a lucky girl, luckier than my squeaky-clean classmates stuck under ceilings. I knew just enough to know that this couldn't last forever.