Jousting school supply windmills of the mind

Even though September 22 is officially the first day of autumn, summer unofficially came to a screeching halt at the end of Labor Day weekend. You could almost hear, see and smell the protesting skid marks left by summer’s bare feet at the prospect of slipping on shoes and socks again after three months of sun, sweet corn and sweet liberation from the vacationless daily grind.
I had mixed feelings about summer ending. It’s widely known I’m not into the beach scene. I also no longer possess the canoes, fishing boats, pontoons and the boundless leisure time of years past that enabled endless bliss aboard. Land-locked, time-bound and finance-strapped, the largest amount of water I saw this summer was formed from tears of self-pity that the season had slipped by without even one water excursion.
On a brighter note, at least I won’t have to worry about cleaning up and winterizing watercraft. Small comfort, but I cling to it like I might an actual water-soaked life preserver. SOS. Summer’s Over Syndrome, characterized by a longing for the summer that wasn’t and the way we (never) were.
Also by Marilyn and Alan Bergman, in collaboration with Michel Legrand, the song “The Windmills of Your Mind,” 1969 Oscar winner for Best Song in a Film (The Thomas Crown Affair), posed a similar, unanswerable question, “Why did summer go so quickly, was it something that I said?”
I caught myself wondering the same thing. This summer felt so whirlwind there was barely time to say anything, let alone catch my breath. Retail establishments were marching out their back-to-school supplies on the heels of the newly-diplomaed spring graduates marching to Pomp and Circumstance.
“Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning, on an ever spinning wheel, as the images unwind, like the circle that you find, in the windmills of your mind.” A dizzying playback loop. But some days felt more like Don Quixote was trying to joust with the windmills of my mind, or perhaps that was just the gears grinding due to age and/or disrepair, a major unfortunate reality that made the time to emerge this summer.
A secondary unfortunate reality was the back-to-school supply displays at retail stores, which was like running the gauntlet at the world pick-pocket championships. There’s no getting out of it unscathed. Attendance at my kids’ middle school open house netted a lengthy school supply wish list. No, more like a school supply demands list that would make a hostage-taker blush.
Was it always this way? Or only recently that schools have put the burden back squarely upon the weary shoulders of those already funding them through property taxes? I thought hard about it, all the way back to my childhood memories of “Little House on the Prairie” TV episodes.
I couldn’t recall one where Pa Ingalls refused to donate his annual share of firewood to the one-room Walnut Grove School because Miss Beadle had sent home a note stating Laura would not be allowed to start the new school year without obtaining a new slate. Being the practical man he was, Pa probably just bought the slate on credit at Oleson’s Mercantile and forced Ma to pay it off with proceeds from sale of her chickens’ eggs.
A few eggs and chickens short of payment, myself, I was filling out a signature loan application to raise the needed school supply capital when an idea struck: I would send my children to school bearing slates versus the required spiral-bound notebooks. Better yet, I would just drop them off at an Amish school, where brightly-colored folders, neon highlighters, elastic book covers, evil ring binders, hand sanitizer and other tools of the devil were not allowed. Oh, yeah.
I could have my trusty firewood guy pull up and dump off a four-wheel drive pickup full of wood outside of the Amish school and call it good. An alternative would be to have the renters in our community who don’t pay property taxes instead have to furnish school supplies for the kids whose parents are property owners. Now we’re talking. But alas, talk is cheap and quaint, while school supplies ain’t.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Heidi Rawson
    Sep 13, 2013 @ 08:32:48

    Renters do pay property taxes as part of their rent payments! Landlords and other property owners may forget that!!


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