On my way home from my first class, on this surprisingly warm day, I noticed the fast, vast amount of new growth on my neighbor's little front-of-the-front yard trees. I've noticed this kind of tree growth before; the year I moved into Gambier, the electric company (in an attempt to keep our power from blacking or browning out every time the wind looks at us the wrong way) cut down immense amounts of tree material. The tops of any trees too close to roadside power lines got lopped off; the sides of any trees that overarched the streets got lopped off; the overall effect was one of blunted branches all over town. The two trees in front of my house both got sheared squarely off, both on top and on their front sides. These particular little trees of my neighbor's were not affected by the carnage, though he did lose one of his large trees. But these little trees are showing off now what my trees showed off over the summer: their straight-up undeterred determination to get bigger.
I don't think I'd ever noticed, before my trees started springing back, how the new growth on trees goes vertical for what seems an exceeding distance before it starts spreading side to side as well. The first day of a new semester feels this way for me; I'm rocketing up before I'm fully ready to grow out and cover everything I need to cover, and it's not always comfortable, but it's also inevitable. This afternoon has also brought back before me a number of people--students and friends--I haven't seen in six months or even a year, a situation happily not conducive to doing final preparations for classes. And yet, I keep on pushing upward, making plans for the big bursts--even, I suspect, as I sit in the coffeeshop with my returned, much-missed friend and gush like a silly giggly person about things that have nothing to do with what's going on in our classrooms.