Time and time again

On the seasons inside.

Greetings from Hyde Park on a reasonably temperate July afternoon that sits roughly equidistant from the bookends of the academic calendar: convocation (this year, June 4) and the first day of Autumn Quarter (September 27). Not long ago, the glow of the first full in-person convocation since 2019 still colored the local atmosphere, and by early August much of the neighborhood will be feeling the gravitational pull of the next school year. Right now—especially for someone who’s spent most of her life attending school or working for one—feels like an interlude between two chapters.

My mother, who spent some four decades teaching third, fourth, and fifth graders, was like me in having the school calendar internalized and feeling the passage of time accordingly. Or rather, I am like her. We lost my mom nine months ago this weekend.

She worked in the school district I attended through junior high, and we anticipated the last day of school in tandem each June (and sat glued to the radio together when a snow day was in the cards). By this time of summer, I’d start to dream of fresh notebooks and sweaters while she had plans well in hand for the classroom theme and lessons that would greet her new charges in September.

Lucile was finely attuned to other calendars too. She was fond of announcing how far we were from Christmas, and her mood was often calibrated to the day’s distance from the nearest solstice. She loved the long days of the year, but the very longest could find her melancholy; she already felt the diminishment to come, even the few seconds of daylight shaved off of June 22. But, by the same principle, the darkest December day for her brought the sweetest hope. This is a calendar I now carry inside me too.

For glimpses back at this year’s hope-filled convocation—an ending that’s also a beginning—see “Parting Words.” And to share in another joyful UChicago ritual, spend time with some of the faces in this year’s Alumni Weekend crowd.

Without whom … TBD

In June the Magazine said a very fond farewell to our intrepid business administrator, Denise Dentley. We wish her the happiest of retirements. Because of Denise, the plans in our heads became possible in the world. Our challenge now is double: getting along without her business savvy and without her cheering presence.