Summer’s calm

It’s all change again. As I took Melody to school today in her witch’s hat, with a box of family-whittled wands to sell at the enterprise stall, I recognised the start of the breakdown of settled pattern. It’s the third time we’ve been late to school in two weeks, moving against the flow of parents leaving the building. Routine is unravelling with the need to find old photos of Melody starting school and enjoying hobbies for the leavers book, providing something for her to sell to raise money for a new whiteboard, organise swimming kit and kit for the residential, do up a bike for her cycling proficiency, buy the new school’s uniform… We always end up doing things at the last minute. But much as I recognise this family-limp to the end-of-term finishing line, this time it feels different, wrong somehow. There will be no leaver’s service. There is to be no last sports day for parents to cheer at, no last school play to go and support – not even the memories of a second-to-last as last year’s didn’t happen either. Melody’s visit to her secondary school has been cancelled again – she has never set foot in the school she is to start in September. But I’m sure it will all be fine. Melody is super-keen to start her new school and has a virtual meeting with her form and form teacher booked in. Her enthusiasm and individuality will carry her through, no problem. It’s just me that feels a little sad.

Things are beginning to change for the others too. Whether or not this week’s Test-and-trace Covid screening of all 12-30 year olds in our area turns up new cases, Joe will finish college at the end of this week. Peta, who has half of her classes and her best friend missing because they are isolating, only has a few weeks left even if she manages to avoid being sent home, and has a week of fun planned at the end of term. Amos has a school trip planned, but of all the children, he is probably one who is least affected by this end-of-term vibe. He will be staying in the same class next year while Melody moves on. Amos has never attended anything alone before, there’s always been at least one of the family around – I suspect he will find the lack of siblings to report on him quite liberating. Peta starts her GCSE years in September and Joe will be back into a new class at college for a second year studying engineering. So all change, but all positive change. Given the year we have had, it is remarkable that, end-of-term chaos aside, the children’s path ahead seems strangely peaceful.

The wood too seems to be in a settled phase. The new track is no longer so new – grass and moss are slowly returning to the edges and centre – it is beginning to mellow. The flurry of spring has calmed into early summer. New tree growth is becoming mature and where we’ve cleared round older trees, branches and twigs are responding with new growth. Badgers are out and about with robust cubs, baby birds are everywhere, sturdy now and less likely to plummet from the branches. It’s a time of calm for refuelling, regrouping; a time of recess for all. The summer has arrived.

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