Monday, August 22, 2016

12 Months of Miss Read: August

The backstory: At the start of 2016, I pulled out my very favorite Miss Read book, Village Centenary.  The novel is structured in months and each chapter explores a month in the year of a village school that is celebrating its 100th anniversary.  This year, my own school is celebrating its 250th anniversary and as we think of our past and look to our future, I thought that Miss Read would make a lovely companion for me.  For each month of 2016, I plan to read Miss Read’s reflection on the month.

Miss Read is a pseudonym for Dora Jessie Saint, an English author who wrote between 1955 and 1996.  Her novels were tales of every day life in small English towns.  Village Centenary is set in Fair Acre, an imaginary Cotswold community.  As is the case in nearly all of the Fair Acre novels, the novel is written in the first person and it is through our narrator, school teacher Miss Read, that the story unfolds.

August with Miss Read
By August, Miss Read is enjoying her summer break.  She fits in some overdue chores, works in her garden, and plans time away from home.  That’s a month a great deal like my own.  As the close of August approaches, Miss Read sees signs of the coming fall on her outdoor walks.  I read of this cooling weather with some envy, as we’ve had a sweltering hot August.  But yesterday brought an afternoon rainstorm and with the rain came cooler weather and an easing of the humidity.  When I walked out to the porch this morning, it was refreshing and lovely, with a cool morning and a breeze on the wind.

As August bends past its halfway point, my preparations for school fill my days.  I’m not ready to give up the leisurely mornings (or the flip flops!) but there is comfort in the return to our school routines.  Miss Read, who also begins school in September, certainly understands how it feels.  

I like the fact that Miss Read and I are on the same trajectory in the month of August.  In so many ways, this character is a companion to me.  We share a strong sense of the school as the center of a community of people who care about one another.  She looks for happiness and finds it.  She's content and not afraid to feel that way.  She unfailingly reminds me to stop and mark the passage of time and honor its meaning in my corner of the world.  

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