When I left the officehouse tonight, I discovered that the western sky--which I can no longer see from inside the building, since I'm now in a different office--was shot through with the widest spectrum of reds and oranges and roses I've seen in months. There's no great vantage point from the western edge of campus, which didn't stop me from looking for one yet again. And so I went for my first rural wander in the car since returning home.
Almost as soon as I'd started driving down the hill from campus, I realized I was making a mistake: the lower one descends, the more the horizon rises (or appears to rise, anyway), obscuring the best colors at each edge of the day. I drove on, hoping to find a good vista to the west where I could stop safely for a photograph. The one I found wasn't exactly a vista--or a safe stopping point, for that matter--but this curve of corn hinted to me that what I was seeing was about as good as it was going to get for this particular quest.
What remains of the corn is blanching out in these early days of fall. I am coming to reoccupy my old place as a good ear in my department, meaning that I am starting to have the kinds of conversations that involve dispensing pieces of whatever wisdom I've managed to gain over all these years. I'm also coming to trace what I know is different about the way I handle conversations now: I'm more inclined to ask a key question or two of students when I meet with them, and then to sit back and listen to them so that I can repeat them to themselves, getting them to make contact with their gut responses, the things that creep out at the seams and interstices. Here's what I've just heard you say, I'll say. Is that what you mean? Is that how you feel? And what's a comfort to me now is that I feel so much less as though I'm responsible for fixing what I hear. Sometimes hearing what's been heard is enough to get someone started in a good direction.
What I'm saying, then, is that this week brought me one step closer to reinhabiting my life here to the fullest, getting completely reintegrated--and yet also being able to feel how different my integration into this place is now than it was even two years ago. Each is a welcome shift.