Final Friday

Happy Friday! And it's not just any Friday -- it's the last Friday! Before what, you ask? Before summer! Before days of heat and sun and vacation and sweat and swimming -- brilliant, wonderful summer!

I work as a para educator with troubled elementary school students, and this weekend is our last weekend before the end of school. I suppose I shouldn't huzzah too loudly, though, since I'll be working in a similar program for a month in the middle of the summer. But still, I get a short break before the extended school year program, and more than a month off after it ends. That's worth celebrating! Besides, I wouldn't want too much time off -- not only could we use the income, but I would go crazy after two or more months of summer vacation. Yikes.

Anyway, I've been having quite a lovely last Friday. I started off the morning by whipping up a double batch of my black bean salad, this time adding a can of pinto beans for volume and color. One of my co-workers hosted a potluck get-together this evening for the staff to celebrate the end of the year as well as to bid our leaving teachers farewell. I brought along some chipotle Guiltless Gourmet chips to dip with. This is one of my favorite bean salads, especially if I mix in an avocado, so I snuck many-a-taste this morning while putting it together.

School was enjoyable as well. I got to accompany some of my students on a field trip to the smokejumper training center that my city boasts. It was an incredibly interesting visit. Apparently we have one of the few training centers in the country, teaching brave souls to jump out of airplanes toting at least 100 pounds of equipment and fight wildfires. Growing up in New Jersey, summer fires were unfathomable to me. Now I am more used to the smell of smoke from fires both far away and near by descending in the summer months, but I am still unsettled by it. I feel better knowing that the smokejumpers are out there, working to keep people safe and preserve a healthy landscape (which, incidentally, often means letting some fires have their way). All in all, it was a very pleasant trip.

Today's predicted thunderstorms had not shown themselves by the time 3:3o PM rolled around, so I decided to enjoy the somewhat sunny weather. Instead of holing up at the YMCA and going nuts on the elliptical, I laced up my sneakers and hit the trail. I hiked up one of the tallest mountains that immediately border my hometown, and it was glorious. The sun hasn't smothered the life and color out of the plant life up there yet, so I saw so many buds (a bunch of them belonging to weeds, I'm sure, but pretty nonetheless!) tucked in among the green grasses. Even as I sweat and gasped my way up the steep slope, I could feel the experience soothing my heart. I love how life works like that sometimes!

Having achieved the peak's summit, I quickly turned around and headed back because the clouds were starting to darken in quite an alarming manner. But I did not begin my descent before taking a moment to appreciate the humongous windsock that adorns the top of the mountain. As my good friend said following one of her own past climbs, "Nothing says you made it like an orange windsock."

The hike took longer than expected (an hour and twenty minutes), so I had to scoot back home and quickly get ready for the staff potluck. It was nice for the Best Husband Ever to meet more of my co-workers, but unfortunately none of the teachers whom I work with most intensely could be there tonight. Ah, well! I won't turn down free food and good company -- especially when the menu includes the principal's famous flank steak marinade, a loaf of Great Harvest bread, and smoked steelhead trout.

Mmm. I hope that your weekend is starting off as deliciously as mine! Take a quiet moment and just soak it in.

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