I said a few days ago that it’s felt like fall for a while. And that’s true. But it didn’t look like fall.
Only a few of the trees were just starting to turn. But last night a storm blew through campus and this morning, for whatever reason, the trees had turned. I don’t mean all of them, or that any turned completely overnight, but a lot more trees have a lot more yellow and orange in them now. It looks like fall.
It looks like Fall inside, too. We’ve got the whole campus pretty much decorated for the season, now—displays of pumpkins and corn stalks in doorways, little winter squashes on the tables in the Dining Hall, vines twine up the walls and across the ceiling of the Great Hall…we’ve worked hard to get it all set up over the last few weeks. The place looks good.
What we haven’t had to do is rake leaves on campus. Charlie says the best mulch for a tree is what it grows itself. All around here, where we have trees we have ground covered in leaves and broken twigs, all year round. The difference in the fall is the ground gets a fresh and more brightly colored coat. We do rake leaves off campus, though. Charlie has a deal worked with our neighbors where we come and take away their fallen leaves and compost them and use them to mulch our garden beds and farm fields. That will probably start next week. It’s fun—I remember last year how we hitched a cart to one of Joy’s horses and took that cart out along the main road picking up leaf piles….
But the advancing season is making me think of other things, too—all the people graduating. Graduation itself isn’t until February, of course, but after the school year ends at Samhain we won’t see the graduating students very much. I won’t even be on campus very much, though I’ll be here more than I was last year in order to keep my commitment to sleep outside an average of once per week. So it’s like Samhain is the beginning of the end or something.
38 people are graduating this year, including four mastery candidates. I’m not honestly all that concerned about most of them leaving—other than being happy for them, of course. I’m not really friends with most of them and some are people I hardly know. And some aren’t really going anywhere—Arthur, for example, is earning his Green Ring at Brigid, but he’s not leaving. His whole reason for coming here was to get involved in this community, so he’s probably going to stay on as an ally—as long as there’s room he can live on campus for a fee and help out.
But other people—this year’s graduating class includes Rick, Willa, Ham, Jim, three more of the Ravens, and Ebony. And both Rick and Ebony want to come back and get their rings, so they’ll be going into Absence. No offense to any of my friends who are staying on, of course, but right now I’m thinking it’s going to be pretty lonely around here next year.
In the meantime, I’ve started doing my outside thing. This past weekend I spent Saturday night out in my spot—I would have spent Sunday night out also, but that storm was coming in and I turned chicken. My plan is to do two nights a week when I can, so I’ll have the leeway to skip a week when I have to. My parents think I’m crazy, of course. Specifically, my mother is angry that Charlie is “making” me do this. She’s grumbled some about what am I paying room and board for if I’m not allowed to sleep inside. Which is all very strange because my mother loves camping—she and Dad go camping for a few days at a time at least once or twice a year and says she wishes she could afford to do it more often. And she knows I used to love going camping with them. So why is she complaining about Charlie “making” me do something she knows I enjoy and that she wishes she could do herself?
But I’ve long since learned not to worry about my parents’ reactions to this place. It’s just because they love me.