One of the benefits of living in the northern Catskill Mountains is the natural beauty of the setting and the opportunity to withdraw from life occasionally in order to reflect. And that is exactly what I have been doing for these past few months.

This view from our porch has been just too inviting to resist. On most summer evenings, Jane and I have been able to spend our time watching a mother deer and her twin fawns drift into our yard just before dusk and graze peacefully on the tall grass under our border trees. Even our dog, Iona, has been pretty mellow in terms of communing with nature — and, in particular, with the two fawns. The danger of Iona chasing the deer seems to have faded over time, and, as long as the fawns do not try to run past her disguised as yellow tennis balls, I am pretty sure that this respectful truce will continue.

I wish that I could say that my break from blog writing was really just a common sense respite from activity. That I was just a little like Iona resting with her chin on her paws in harmony with her world. I am pretty sure that that was what it was for perhaps the first two or three weeks of the hiatus. However, when I attempted to take up my blog writing again in August, I found that I just lacked enthusiasm for the task. Upon reflection, I realized that my issue really centered on the fact that I saw the blog more as a “task” than as a pleasant excursion into thought. What had begun as a fun activity for me had somehow morphed into a burden that I did not want or need.

In an attempt to motivate myself, I re-read the posts that I have made since I started the blog. What I found was that there was very little that I would change or revise. I truly believe in what I have written. At the same time, I did recognize a need to revise the way I was thinking. That is what my summer weeks of reflection were telling me.

I still feel a desire to write about things that matter to me, but I know that I must do that with two particular thoughts in mind. First, I intend to publish on my own schedule in the context of what is convenient for me. I will work the writing around other activities that are also important to me (like taking long walks with Iona or playing with my grandchildren). I have worked all my life to be free of deadlines, and it just makes no sense to engage in activities that create them. Second, whether I am publishing poems or essays or comments about educational issues, I intend to make a positive contribution. I am going to write for something and not against something. This is particularly true when it comes to my posts about education. I am tired of the negativity that surrounds educational issues, and I simply refuse to have that negativity rob me of my motivation to write. I have certain values and beliefs about learning that have guided my life and my career. That is what I am going to write about. That is my passion.

And so I begin — again.