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.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Year 2: Part 4: Post 3: Independence Day

Nora is turning 18 this week.

She was sixteen when she got here, and it hasn't been two years, but such is the magic of birthdays in the summer. She has her GED now, too--she took and passed the test in May, and next spring she'll take the various placement tests that yearlings normally take and find out how much longer she has until she graduates. In theory, she's on a six-year plan, since she's been taking half as many credits each semester as we do, but she thinks she'll be able to reduce it to five. Not that she's in a hurry to leave, of course.

To me, it's kind of neat, seeing her grow up. When she first arrived, it seemed like she was a lot younger than me, but she's closing the gap--which I suppose means that she's maturing faster than I am? More likely, what's doing it is spending time away from her mother. She's not rebellious anymore because she doesn't have anything to rebel against.

But now--I guess the rebellion has succeeded. She's 18. I didn't think it was that big a deal when I turned 18, it didn't change my life all that much, but I don't fight with my mother, either. I don't think Nora's mom's a bad person or anything, and she obviously means well, but she does seem a bit controlling and she treats Nora like a little kid. Of course, if I had a teenager who dated college guys and drank vodka and dyed her hair blue, all of which Nora used to do, I suppose I might get a little controlling, too....

The main thing is that Nora's mom was always threatening to take her out of school and send her back to normal high school or maybe to some remedial program for kids who act up and now she can't do that. She can decide to stop paying tuition, but then Nora would qualify for a campus job. She could stay.

"Anyway, my Mom paid ahead to the end of this year," Nora pointed out.

I think it won't be long until Nora has her own income source, anyway. She's making all the candles for the campus now, including a lot of scented and colored candles--they're in jars in the herbarium for anyone to use, in case a spell calls for such a thing. This year, she's also experimenting with making soaps and various cosmetics from different combinations of goats' milk, beeswax, honey, and herbal essential oils. For now, since she's using campus materials, all of her products go for campus use (I found a jar hand-labeled "Goat's Beard Soap: Shampoo for Your Goatee" in the bathroom the other day. Mine's more of a Van Dyke, but the stuff works. It smells nice, too) but I expect she'll start a business one of these days.

She still loves bees.

Of course, Nora's isn't the only Independence Day this week. Nora turns 18 and the nation as a whole turned 225. I didn't go see the fireworks. I remember being, of all things, slightly bored by them last year, as though the rocket's red blare was less important than the lake water and the night sky the display interrupted.

So, this time I didn't go. After class I went swimming down at the lake (Allen was there when I arrived--I think the man is part otter) then came back, did my homework, and tried to nap (despite the sound of fireworks in the distance) until it was time to meet Charlie and the others in the grape arbor for Dead Poet's Society.

With the campers here, of course, we had to wear our uniforms and keep our hoods up so we'd look mysterious and hard to identify, and we spoke only in poetry. Sequoia, Megan, and May, Charlie's grand-nieces, had sneaked their friends out of camp to come join us, neglecting to mention, of course, that sneaking out for poetry wasn't exactly against the rules. It's more fun if they think they're being subversive. This happened all last summer, and I expect it will happen all this summer.

But this time, after opening the meeting as he always does, Charlie did something I haven't seen him do before; he recited The Star-Spangled Banner like a poem.

He made it come alive. He made it really clear, you could feel the tension, of this man on the deck of the ship, watching and waiting in the dark, and sometimes a bomb would go off and in the light of the explosion he'd see for a moment, that the flag hadn't fallen...yet. But then darkness would fall and there would be no news, just blackness, until the next explosion. And then, in the morning, he can barely stand to look, so he asks someone else--is the flag still there?

And we never actually hear the answer to the question.

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