Something Over & Something Begins...
Monday, September 5, 2011 at 09:36PM
Caitlin Shetterly

Dear Loyal Readers, Family & Friends,

It seems impossible that it has come to this so quickly; an end to summer and the beginning of fall. How is that each time this happens, I’m surprised at the brazen alacrity of seasonal change? Maybe, instead, I should be surprised by how slowly I adjust. Nevertheless, this year feels particularly laden with new beginnings and mourned endings because tomorrow both Master M. and I are starting school. He, at the tender age of not-quite three, will begin preschool. And I will begin teaching Creative Nonfiction at a place here in Portland, Maine, called The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.

Wasn’t it only a moment ago that I was holding him with only one arm cupped around his small body as he nursed? And just yesterday that we were driving across America as his two-month-old self and Hopper slept in the backseat, Greg Brown’s “Late Night Radio” playing on the stereo? And last week his first birthday—so close I can still taste the baked apple with a candle in it, which, frankly, sort of terrified him? And didn’t summer just begin the other day?

For us, this summer began in late May, when the months ahead seemed to stretch out as wide and as deep as the ocean and we spent two blissful weeks in our friend Dee’s tiny cottage on the water up in my hometown. By day we investigated the lives that for brief moments intersected with ours: crabs and scuds; real foxes and imagined bears; gray jays and baby phoebes. By nightfall, Dan was grilling everything we ate (and, though he doesn’t like to admit it, burning a good portion).  That tiny ripple of time—just two short weeks-- on the surface of our lives feels, somehow, present enough we should be able to go back right now, this moment, and start over. But as with everything, we can’t.

Tomorrow, Dan and Master Himself will drop me off for my first day of teaching and continue on for M.’s first day of school. To say I don’t feel ready for my first—and only, so far—child to begin school, is an understatement. But last night Dan said something surprising to me. We’ve been running, lately, at a series of trails a little drive from our house where we can do about four miles if we wind around and then follow our footsteps back again. And on our way home each day, having timed our run to the tide calendar, we’ve been stopping at a little working waterfront off the road, full of fishing boats and sailboats, motor boats and dinghies, and we’ve been jumping off some big, pink granite rocks and plunging ourselves into the water. Just before I jumped last night, as Master M. filled his bucket and “made” a tide pool, Dan said, “I always want to recreate that moment of shock and exhilaration just when I’ve hit the water.”

And I said, “What? I hate that part. That’s what keeps me standing here, reticent to jump.”

“Nah, not me. I love it, “ he said.

I was stunned. How could anyone love that part?

Tonight, though, what I know about my son is this: He’s a little reticent to jump in, like me, but like Dan, he loves a thrill. And, we’ve been learning a bit about courage this summer: the brave way our new cat, Hemingway, sauntered into our lives; the leap my cousin Carrie took this summer, walking down the aisle in a white wedding dress; my saying “yes” to becoming a teacher and our agreement to send M. to school. So, I’m hoping that with his new tin lunchbox in hand (with --what else?-- a John Deere riding lawnmower on it’s face) and his goggie neatly folded in his backpack, he will jump right in, with only a tiny shiver of shock tingling through his limbs.

I just hope I can do the same.

Tell me your back-to-school stories!

Best, Caitlin.

www.caitlinshetterly.com

 

PS: Below find a list of my fall & winter readings. If you know some folks in any of these towns, I’d love to meet them!

PPS: Dan and I watched Biutiful this weekend—what a heartbreaking, beautifully made and deep movie. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it! We’re also watching, tape by tape, Little Dorrit, the Masterpiece Theatre series based on Dickens’ serial novel—it’s quite good and a real escape at bedtime.

 

Sunday, September 11, 3:00 PM
Dorcas Library
Part of the "Schoodic Creates" Tour
28 Main St., Prospect Harbor, ME
(207) 963-4027

 

Thursday, September 22, 7:30 PM
Maine Women Write
Space Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland, ME 04101
(207) 828-5600

 

Wednesday, September 28, 5:30 PM
Jackson Memorial Library
38 Main Street, Tenants Harbor, ME 04860
(207) 372-8961

 

Saturday, October 1
Bangor Book Festival
10:00 – 10:45 AM: Finding Home—Writing Memoir with Susan Conley and Melissa Coleman
Bangor Public Library Board Room

11:00 – 11:45: Readings and Discussion with Susan Conley and Melissa Coleman
Bangor Public Library Board Room

Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow St., Slot 13, Bangor, ME 04401
207-947-8336 | info@bangorbookfest.org

 

Thursday, October 20, 7:00 PM
Norway Memorial Library
258 Main Street Norway, Maine 04268
207-743-5309 | norlib@norway.lib.me.us

 

Thursday, October 27, 7:00 PM
Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers
Reading and Signing
193 Broadway, Farmington, Maine
(207) 778-3454

 

Friday, November 4, 6:00 PM
Pechakucha Night & Juice Conference
256 High Street, Belfast, Maine 04915

 

Saturday, November 19, 7:00 PM
Northshire Bookstore
Reading and Signing
Manchester Center, 4869 Main Street, Vermont
(802) 362-2200


November: MAINE WOMEN WRITE BOOK CLUB PICK
Bookstores across the state of Maine will celebrate the themes of family, giving thanks and America in Made for You and Me during the month of November.
For more information, find Maine Women Write on Facebook.

 

Saturday, November 26, 12:00 PM
Maine Coast Book Shop
Signing and Reading
158 Main Street, Damariscotta, ME
(207) 563-3207

 

Tuesday, February 21, 6:30 PM
Winthrop Public Library, With Apple Valley Books
39 Bowdoin Street, Winthrop, ME
(207) 377-8673

 

 



Article originally appeared on Passage West: Caitlin Shetterly (http://caitdangowest.squarespace.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.