Every day the summer winds down a little faster. Last week I spent three days up at work, teaching classes and ordering new computers. The building was still relatively empty of teachers, but the custodial and maintenance crews were out in full force, painting and cleaning carpets. The football and volleyball players have already taken up residence in the gym and stadiums. And the city road crew is scurrying to finish repairs on the main street that runs alongside the high school before the full faculty returns next Monday.

This morning I automatically woke up at 6:00 and was only able to stall my morning run for 30 minutes before my brain wouldn't allow me anymore time in bed. It's almost as if over the years my body has amended my natural circadian rhythm to self-adjust for fall. This time next week I'll be up an hour earlier, and my nose will be firmly planted against the proverbial grindstone.

Part of me is ready to get back to work. A girl can only watch so many episodes of Law and Order and Burn Notice, after all. But another part of me is in no hurry to once again deal with the mechanical minutia of my job. Sometimes, I miss the actual classroom. Not the papers, or the grade grubbing, or the overly-involved parents who haven't yet realized that little Timmy is now old enough to be charged with a felony and therefore needs to be responsible for turning in his homework. I don't miss any of that nonsense, not for half a second. But I do miss the discussions, and the discovery, and the sense of family and purpose I used to have with my students.

I got an email from a former student last week. I had him in class 6 years ago, and last Tuesday, out of the blue, he sends me an email to say thank you for always being in a good mood in his class and for being a good teacher to him and his friends. I have no idea what event in his life made him think of me and my class, or what was so powerful as to make him take the time to sit down, find my new school, and email me, but his note made me think of all the students I've impacted, for better or worse, and how privileged I have been to play some small role in all those lives.

I can think of only a handful of professions that have that kind of perk. Makes me feel lucky that I found my way into this one.