One morning last week I noticed a burst of red glaring out of the green foliage. Looking closer, I saw the first tomato of the season. Tomatoes have been elusive members of our garden for most years, last year being an exception. They can be so temperamental, requiring just the right amount of sunlight, shade, and water. Since I hadn’t done anything special to nurture this year’s crop, I was delighted that the first brave tomato appeared.
Tomatoes are always a sign of spring ending and summer approaching. For teachers, it’s one of the most challenging times of the year. There’s always a bit of excitement as we bring another school year to a close. There are projects to finish, progress reports to write, and studies to conclude. It’s a time of celebration and closure, a time for dismantling what takes ten months to nurture. When I was in the classroom, especially when I taught the oldest Seeds, this time of year also triggered a significant amount of grieving. I shed many tears as I wrote each child’s final narrative, reflecting on his or her growth and summarizing a year or two of learning together. I invested so much of myself in each child and the letting go at year’s end never came easily. Saying goodbye to children was a bit like bidding farewell to the varieties of flowers and vegetables that thrive only in winter and spring.
These days, now that I primarily wear my Director hat, the end of school is less painful. Yes, there are children to whom I’ve become attached over the years that I’m sad to see leaving the Seed. There are families whose time at the school spans a decade or more, who become like household members. It’s hard to imagine daily life without them. Yet, like the first tomato heralding a new season, I’ve learned that life in a school requires coming and going. Children and their families arrive at the Seed ready to receive whatever they need to sustain their current lives. When their cycle is complete, they move on, carrying the essence of the Seed with them.
All of the cilantro in my garden has dried up and gone to seed. We’re harvesting beautiful orange carrots, and the onions beg to be picked. Kale leaves are losing their tenderness and their stalks grow tough with the pending warmer days. Our pea crop is finished for this year. The two beets I harvested yesterday wait in the refrigerator to be roasted. It is a season of letting go and moving on, but as the solitary new tomato reminds me, it is also a season for hope and looking ahead to new possibilities.