I must say that I’m pretty pleased to see the back of March. I always find it a bit of a blah time of year here in the Maritimes – winter hasn’t quite gone, and spring is not yet here. I think that we should consider adopting the calendar used by the Cree and Dene peoples of northern Saskatchewan, which has six seasons. There is summer, of course, those hot months July and August, with the shoulder months of June and September, followed by fall, the glories of the autumnal forest ablaze in reds and golds, and then there is freeze-up. This is the time of year when the leaves have fallen but the snows have not yet arrived; when the geese congregate on the estuaries and prepare to head south; when the rivers and lakes begin to freeze but the slush means that you cannot land a plane on floats; when the ice is not yet strong enough to support the weight of a dog team or a person.
Once the snow is down and the lakes are frozen, then there is winter, which is its normal wintry self, and this in turn is followed by break-up. Here the snow has gone, or nearly so, just the tattered remnants left in the ditches and the woods, but the ground is still frozen; there is a yellow standing water sheen on the sloughs and ponds, but not even the dogs will cross the thinning ice that shivers beneath them; here the pussy willows come out, and the first geese return. Then spring, which here is usually in April and May, crocuses and daffodils and the first buds on trees and vines, and then summer once again.
Winter – break up – spring – summer – fall – freeze up … a much more truthful calendar than the one we currently use.
And I’m not even going to start about the abomination of daylight savings time!
No, I don’t like March very much. Although the middle of the month is always fun, the Ides of March on the 15th, when in honour of history one of my colleagues always makes Caesars at noon! They are the non-alcoholic ones, of course, but it still seems “naughty” to stand around and drink during the day!
And of course, the seeds ordered from the catalogues have started to arrive, and been planted under the lights in the basement, and some have even been potted on once already. Soon they will be strong enough to go out to the greenhouse for a couple of weeks, and then it will be May, and they can go in to the ground. So, there is some promise to which we can look forward.
On the 1st of April I taught my very last class. For those who think that a most appropriate date, I will remind you that jokes are only allowed in the morning, and I didn’t teach until the evening!
It was a graduate class with 24 students. It’s part of our Global Perspectives cohort within the MEd degree, so there are students from all over the world – Canada, China, Egypt, Syria, Taiwan. Which makes for interesting discussions, as the class is International education and international development. Anyway, the last class went well, I thought, and then as I finished things off one of the students interrupted me.
“Excuse me,” she said, “we would like to thank you for this class.”
And then they proceeded to present me with the beautiful gift of a Calla Lily, a ‘Happy Retirement’ card signed by them all, and a plate of home-made cupcakes – which we all proceeded to eat. I had my camera in my bag, and a student passing by in the corridor was enticed in to take a photograph – which I am delighted to share with you here. What a wonderful finale to my teaching career!
Another milestone accomplished. The last class taught; the last papers marked, and grades submitted; my last PhD student has submitted her revised dissertation and is ready to graduate in May. I still have two more reports to write, one keynote talk to present, and two panel symposia to attend – and sometime soon I’m going to have to take a serious look at cleaning out my office.
Twelve marbles in the jar.