To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Part 5: Post 2: Harvests and Classes

So, both academically and ritually (at least according to Kit), it is now Fall. Being as everything is green and most days are still hot I’m not sure I buy this, but whatever. It is a different kind of summer than it was a month or two ago, I will acknowledge that. The grasses and other plants flowering in my plots are entirely different, an almost complete turn-over. I don’t hear as many birds anymore, but there are cicadas and what I guess are grasshoppers. At night there are crickets.  The farm is in full swing, too, both in terms of the variety of produce coming in and the amount; the food, as I mentioned, is fantastic, and there is way more than we can eat. They're drying and canning like crazy--it's a strange thing to watch a winter's worth of food slowly accumulating, to see horse-carts full of tomatoes heading off to the drying racks (they don't have a pickup truck) or walk in the Dining hall for lunch and the who place suddenly smells like drying onions and to know that's what you'll be be living on a few months down the road.

The summer camp is over. First the shrieking stopped, right before Lammas, and now the tents are gone from the orchard. Most of the sprouts are still on campus, but they're quieter...and they're not outsiders. They stay over sometimes, though I'm not sure where they sleep. Maybe they bunk with the masters or something, though if they do they know the trick of going in and out of the fourth floor without any of us seeing. 

Grasshopper on Flower
Sometimes I see Allen and his kids arrive on campus. They bicycle in just before lunch on Tuesday. Usually it’s just the older two, Julie and David, but sometimes Alexis rides in a kid-carrier on Allen’s bike. They all stay through until Friday night or Saturday morning, building tunnels and forts among the shrubbery or running all up and down the mountain ridge behind the campus. It looks like a lot of fun.

The reason Allen comes in on Tuesdays is that his first class of the week is Tuesday afternoon. I'm in that class, though it hasn't actually met yet. The official name for it is “Lies, Statistics, and Illusions.” Among other things, it’s apparently about how to avoid being manipulated by advertising, so I've heard some people call it "Defense Against the Dark Arts," a Harry Potter reference, of course. It’s a popular Allen’s classes are.

Charlie’s classes are usually less popular. I suppose that’s what happens from growling at people the way he does. I signed up for two, though—Messing Around Outdoors, and Environmentalism for Dummies. The former actually is pretty popular; it’s basically several classes worth of field trips but without much in the way of lectures or homework. He teaches a version of it every semester, and a lot of people take it more than once. The other class is probably more important but less fun; learning some of the science behind environmental issues, like why species go extinct. The “for dummies” part is probably a reference to the fact that a lot of students here really aren’t that interested in science--something that seems stranger and stranger to me the longer I'm here. I guess Charlie's ideas are rubbing off on me.

Field Cricket
My fourth class is a physics class called “Complex Systems,” and I don’t know what it’s about, not really. But I like the physics classes, and I have to take some of them, and this one comes recommended by several other students, including Rick. 

So, another semester, another set of classes—except this time all the classes are electives. We still have to take a certain number of credits in each competency area, but from here on in I get to choose which ones I can take. So I’ll be in class with senior students as well as other yearlings, and I'll be learning things not all of the other students will learn. We’re drifting further apart, further into our own individual courses of study. We're still yearlings, technically, because we're in our first year, but from here on in that doesn't matter much, practically. A shift has taken place. 

This semester is also the longest, at ten weeks. That’s still not very long—all the classes this time are three credits, so that’s twelve class meetings, and the extra meetings have to take turns occupying Wednesday. But it’s long enough. When it’s over, so will the school year be, and all this riotous green will be gone.

[Next Post: Friday, August 9th: Day of Transformation]

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