Morning Coffee: Another School Year

fallSummer is over and another school year begins. I’m no longer in school, and neither are my children, but I remember the excitement like it was yesterday. I can’t speak for the rest of you, or my children, for that matter, but I couldn’t wait to go back to school. Not just elementary or high school, but college, as well. When the professor passed out the syllabus and I saw all the books we’d be reading, all the papers I’d have to write, well…my heart raced, and it was off to the book store.

By the middle of August I was bored. I was anxious to wear the new clothes and shoes in my closet. School supplies lined the store shelves like candy at Christmas. All I needed was a list from my teacher to tell my mother what to buy. Remember book covers? The five of us sat around the table cutting up brown paper bags and decorating them. I’m still drawn to all those colorful, blank, notebooks just waiting for me to write something in them. Packets of new pens…don’t even get me started.

And then there was my teacher. Who would be my teacher? We all had our favorites, but you didn’t get to choose the one you wanted. You had to take the one they assigned you. My children received a letter in the mail, along with their supply list. When I went to elementary school, we reported to the school gymnasium that first morning and waited while each teacher took their turn calling out the names of his/her students. Every child on those bleachers sat with their fingers crossed hoping they’d, at the very least, be assigned to the same class with their friends. As each name was called students lined up to be led to their classroom, until the gymnasium was empty and the new school year was officially underway.

School started in our town this week. The district campus is just a block from our house and I can hear the children on the playground and the school bells ringing. Lines of yellow buses can be seen through the trees. Soon there will be football games and homecoming. The nights are already getting colder and I’ve seen a patch of color here and there in the leaves. Halloween is just around the corner.

I wrote this poem some years back. It was originally published in the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets 2016 calendar, and I included it in my August 25, 2017, blog.

Autumn Soup
By Jane Yunker

Fresh pressed uniforms
Shiny Mary Janes
Clean spiral notebooks
Frosted window panes

Smooth orange pumpkins
Apples, red and green
Bright leaves drifing
Slowly from the trees

Cinnamon and nutmeg
Glazed donut holes
Cider and hot chocolate
Warm our chilly bones

Crisp brown cornstalks
A ghost’s whispered flight
Clouds gray and heavy
Mischief’s out tonight

Perhaps a horse-drawn hayride
Or haunted mansion scare
Trick or treat, smell my feet
A spider in your hair!

Morning Coffee: All You Need Is Love

Valentine 2“All you need is love”: lyrics from one of my favorite Beatles songs. Also, it appears, perhaps, the campaign slogan of democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson.

Love: the reason I like reading and writing romantic fiction. No matter what the conflicts, there’s always love to bring people back together. Love: something that seems to be dwindling today. Love has gone out of style.

Have you heard the saying, hate the message but love the messenger? It seems today we can no longer agree to disagree. If we disagree with the other person, we’re supposed to hate them. Republicans think democrats are evil, and democrats think republicans are evil. Christians think atheists are evil, and atheists think Christians are evil. The examples are endless.

Instead of debating our viewpoints, we scream them at each other. We cut people off mid-sentence and tell them why they aren’t allowed to speak. Instead of trying to lovingly educate someone who espouses a mistaken, maybe even disturbing, point of view, we label them with one or more of the ever-growing derogatory names available at the time. My mother taught me you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, an old proverb that never loses its relevance.

I started this blog with the intent of never making it political, but this week dozens of people were killed in two different mass shootings. The only stories of love I’ve heard are those coming from the people who risked their own lives to try and save others. Parents using their own bodies to shield their children; witnesses rushing toward the shooting to pull out anyone they could reach; the police officers who responded so quickly to disarm the situation. The rest of us, instead of sitting down together to discuss what we could do to hopefully prevent these in the future, all stand around pointing a finger at everyone else. It’s not OUR fault. It’s YOUR fault. Remember, every time you point one finger at another, you’re pointing three fingers back at yourself.

August is Romance Awareness Month. When I tell people I write romantic fiction, I inevitably get a snicker, a smirk, sometimes a sneer. “Sex books,” some giggle. “Mommy porn,” others call it with disdain. Yes, some of the books have sex, but not all. What they do all have is love.

And what’s wrong with that?