Back to School, for Now

Welcome. We’re closing in on bean season, root vegetable and apple cider season, at least here in the Northeastern United States. The greenmarket signifiers of fall are comforting, like the changing leaves and the changing light: seasonal constants on a planet where nothing’s seemed sure for quite some time.

Seasonal constants for this season, at least.

This year, many of us are adding a return to in-person school to the fall itinerary. For parents who have been executing the tricky choreography of at-home and hybrid learning for the past year and a half, this may be the most welcome (or, for some, nervous-making) of fall signposts.

Once, September and school supplies were synonymous. Now, sending kids off to a homeroom that’s not a room at home is a gift, one we know could be revoked.

What else have we taken for granted? What other things do we perceive as certain that could show themselves not to be?

National parks. Two-day shipping. Moviegoing. Youth hostels. Hair loss. Grandchildren remaining children.

Today, why not examine some of those things that seem permanent and consider what you’d do if they were to change or vanish? It’s a low-key way to appreciate what’s happening now while recognizing that it’s not forever. You can do this with things you love and things you don’t care for. The trees outside the window, the traffic, your neighbors, a meeting. School drop-off and pickup, masked or unmasked. Going to work or taking time off, at home or away.


If you need some unintrusive beats for working, contemplation or anything else, check out the “Lofi vibes and rain sounds generator” Ambicular.

The four-part documentary series “LuLaRich,” about the colorful-leggings purveyor LuLaRoe, is worth your time, especially if you’re curious about the inner workings of the multilevel marketing companies that have flourished on Facebook. (I am, endlessly.)

Here’s Fine Young Cannibals performing “Johnny Come Home” on “Top of the Pops” in 1985.

Tell us.

Are there “constants” in your life that you’ve recently realized are, in fact, not so constant? Tell us: [email protected] Be sure to include your full name and location and we might feature your response in a future newsletter. We’re At Home and Away. We’ll read every letter sent. More ideas for passing the time, whether you’re at home or away, appear below. I’ll be back on Friday.

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