Church spire and fall foliage viewed from rainy window

Today was a quintessential New England fall day: blue-skied, brisk and bright. I taught in Salem, NH this morning, and the foliage on the drive up was a burnished tapestry of red, orange, and gold. There was a crew of inmates collecting trash on the side of the road, clad in an autumnal attire of red jumpsuits, orange vests, and yellow hard-hats, and as I drove past them I thought, “What a great day to be out of prison.”

Starting to turn

What a great day to be out of prison, indeed. Thursday is the end of my face-to-face work week, which means I come home on Thursday afternoons feeling satisfied but bone-weary, spent from the effort of juggling classes for two different colleges. I use the weekends to catch up with grading, teaching prep, and the single online graduate class I’m teaching at the moment: even my weekends aren’t “off.” But my weekend schedule is more flexible: I have work to do, but the freedom to choose when to do it, with only myself as a task-master.

It always seems sad—a bitter shame—that New England’s prettiest season is also my busiest: living in New England, it’s sad not to be able to spend as much time as possible outside when both the trees and the air itself seem to gleam golden. If I could, I’d save my fall paper-grading until winter, when the weather drives us indoors. But teaching is time-sensitive work, a harvest you must tend when the fruit is ripe, not rotten. For the time being, I have to content myself with short stints away from my work—a brief walk here, a brief break there—stolen moments when I soak up sun as greedily as an inmate on afternoon furlough, a chance to glean golden memories from a fleeting season.

I took the top photo yesterday morning, through a rainy window on the second floor of the library at Framingham State University. I took the second photo last week as I was parking my car to go grocery shopping in Chestnut Hill.