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Back to School Nostalgia

by Ines Quandel


It’s that time of year when my FB newsfeed is full of back to school photos that my friends are posting of their kids. A reminder that we are all getting older, and a trigger for some moments of nostalgia.


Back to school meant seeing friends that I had barely seen all summer, since I lived on a farm well outside of town. It meant an hour bus ride each way. So even though I had to get up earlier there was still time to doze on the way. But it also meant buckling down to do school work and home work. Unlike the summer, come fall my time and activities where structured again, from school, to sports, and chores. Looking back I realize that I never minded having that structured imposed on my time. Left to my own devices I’m rarely that productive. There are too many good books and artistic endeavours that get in the way of adulting.


I still try though come fall to set a schedule, organize my time, and do more. The weather is turning cooler, it’s not so tempting to lounge in the sun or head out for a ramble through the woods. There are usually plenty of ‘get organized for back to school’ articles out there, that even those of us without kids can apply. I set up a fitness schedule and book the weekly sessions in advance in my app. My calendar will see timeslots set aside for volunteer work, and I pick a set day for groceries. Somehow I still believe that routine will be the key to productivity, it’s how I was raised.


Soon enough those ambitious plans to organize my time and actually stick to all of those structured activities will fail. I give them about a week or two. The blame will be on unforeseen circumstance, to which I adapted quite effortlessly. Maybe someday I’ll just learn to finally let go of the delusion that what I need is a structured approach and appreciate living in the moment. Applying my energies to whatever task they are best suited at a particular moment. Appreciating a task well done, as opposed to a task done at a certain time.


And in case you’re wondering why I chose a picture of a maple tree. I grew up in norther Ontario and part of what marked going back to school was the turning of the maple leaves from green to red. There was one huge maple along the way to school that stood beside a river and the leaves over the river always turned red first. I can still picture that tree in my mind, even though it’s been nearly 30 years since I rode by it on the schoolbus.




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