Outside of cute kitchen message boards and restaurants with the evening specials, few people use slates anymore. You know, the fine-grained, foliated, homogeneous metamorphic rock (that was the definition that sprang into your mind, right?) Laura Ingalls Wilder would clasp as she sat in that one-room schoolhouse on the prairie.
When I was teaching, and had time at the end of the day, I’d head to the girls’ room down the hall with my green plastic bucket. I’d fill it up and return to my classroom where I’d dip my giant sponge and wash away the day from my chalkboard. I might re-enter the detention list or a homework assignment, but the most part, it was a fresh start.
Maybe I liked the idea of a fresh start because it’s a close relative to my need for visual order. I could never understand those people whose filing system is composed of towers of paper. Before I begin a task requiring any sort of thinking, I have to clear my desk of the notepads, old mail, and gloves looking for a mate. When I’m cooking, to avoid using chili powder instead of cinnamon, or baking powder instead of baking soda, I have to empty the kitchen counter and sink before I begin.
An uncluttered surface can recharge my mind and soul. I can dodge real housecleaning far longer than I’d like to admit, but after I’ve sorted out a drawer or cleared the shoes from my closet floor I can reach inner peace. New shelf paper can leave me with a sense of tranquility that’ll stick around for the rest of the day.
These are all re-sets, new beginnings, another reason I enjoyed teaching. In September I was able to start over again with a new set of students and the optimism that came with a new year.
Funny, people write about the rebirth brought each year by Spring, but this is reversed in the teaching world. Spring is the culmination of the school year, when everything finishes up.