The Day Before The First Day

Painting: Fall Blueberries by Laura Tasheiko
Painting: Fall Blueberries by Laura Tasheiko

I ran this morning. For months now, running has caused me angst. I want to run in theory. But when I actually find a moment where running is possible, I’m overcome by lethargy. My muscles feel preemptively sore. But this morning, the day before the first day of autumn, I wanted to run. There was no dread, just a slowly rising sun, a blue sky, and long shadows.

I ran my five-mile route—a route that I’ve been putting off for weeks. The sun came through in pieces through the leaves. I took in my favorite sights: the field of cows with their quickly growing calves, the blueberry fields already turning red, the bright open field that opens just after the forest. A young deer crossed in front of my path. (This is what I love about Olympia: run five miles and you can pretend you live out in the countryside.)

While I ran, my mind stayed busy rehearsing for tomorrow, the first day of fall quarter. Always in the days before I meet my new students, I practice who I will be. I am my best self in those first few weeks, my spirit restored from summer. My students file in with the intention of doing everything right. They laugh easily at my jokes. I intend to be consistently inspiring, clear, and Prepared for Anything. By November, though, the sky will cloud over, the stacks of papers will roll in, and we all will submit to the grind. Here and there I will drop the ball. Here and there my students will test me. By December we’ll be ready for the end.

But for now I’ll just linger in autumn’s brightness. I know it won’t last, but still I’ll reap its pleasures.


  1. Yes, yes. Teaching is exactly like that. The excitement of those first days. The assurance that you will be the best teacher you can be… And then by the beginning of February it has all gone on much too long. Ha! So impressed you enjoyed that 5 mile run without lots of running beforehand to prepare you. Perhaps that’s a sign that this might actually be the year. You might actually be a model master teacher the whole time, from September until June. Who knows?! It’s got to happen eventually, right? Happy first day!

  2. Jenn, your post makes me think how life in general is seasonable and that there tends to be cycles to everything. I love how you are tuned into that, in the feeling of what’s going on and it’s all just part of life. Happy new term and enjoyment of its fresh harvest.

    • Thank you! One thing that’s been helping me feel connected is the fact that I now walk my son to school every day. Yesterday was the first time it rained and we sure did notice!

  3. What a beautiful painting… I am going to look on dA for the off chance the artist might be there. If so, I would sure love to critique it. I had my left leg amputated in March, I am just now getting out and walking, hopefully I can someday kinda run maybe. LOL

    Guy Vestal @ Counter Culture Critic

    • If you click on the painting in the post it will take you to a site with more of her work. I was so happy to find that image–I thought it captured the beauty of the blueberry fields in autumn better than a photograph would. Glad you liked it too! And glad to hear you’re recovered enough for walking. It’s a beautiful season to be outside.

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