This year the holiday went much as it did the last few years—we had a large gathering of the extended community, had a big feast involving mountains of strawberries, the last of the rhubarb, and two roasted pigs (and much else—I do not mean that the menu consisted of fruit and pork alone) and all sat in a giant picnic out on the Central Field to eat and talk and play for hours. The weather was clear and lovely, though a bit cool for June. I don’t mind.
My brother and his family visited again, although my sister wasn’t here this year. My nephew is now the official youngest sprout, toddling around with the others. It’s kind of neat to know that a relative of mine is part of the school community in that way—my own place here feels more solid now, somehow.
Steve Bees had a guest too, I noticed. His girlfriend. I guess they’re getting pretty serious now, since he’s introducing her to the school, letting her in, as it were. Except he didn’t introduce her to me, so I didn’t get to talk to her. I don’t take that personally—there were a lot of people on campus to talk to.
At the end of the day, just before sunset, I climbed the big pine tree I’ve climbed every year except last. I guess it’s becoming part of my personal tradition, to get up in the air that way, to take maximum advantage of the long, fading day. The sunset was gorgeous, and I watched from up there as the crowds started to disperse, a lot of the extra people going home—though most of the sprouts stayed, I saw them in the night, running around and waving sparklers. I watched the lighting bugs come out, the first real big display of the year. And I watched them light The Man, the Burning Man built of phragmites stalks and grape vines and whatever other vegetable sculpting material Charlie wanted sent off to the nether world by fire this month. He is always both practical and spiritual, always.
And I thought about how this is my last year up in this tree, as a novice, watching all this. I plan to come back as a candidate, but you never know. You never know how plans will turn out.