Break on an August Afternoon

Let me take you for a moment to something I did this afternoon on my break.

That’s right: I now have coffee breaks. Most people won’t think getting a paid break at work is a big deal, but coming from the world of public school teaching, where coffee breaks do not exist and lunches are often dedicated to working with students, fighting the photocopier, or calling parents, the idea of 15 uninterrupted minutes to do what I like borders on the profound, or the glorious at least.

I’m also adjusting to managing my own schedule without the assistance of bells. Luckily, there are clocks in most rooms at my new office that are more or less on time.

Here’s what I did at about 3:42 this afternoon: I sat at a picnic table in the dappled shade cast by an elm that is older than my grandmother. I had my back to the sidewalk and my front pointed toward a richly red brick building built before movies were made in colour. Because I wore a black blouse to work today, the heat of the sun pulsed on my grateful shoulders and reminded me summer will be ending way too soon, as usual. There was a light breeze and, because I had the foresight to leave my iPod in my office, I could hear the rasp of the friction between the leaves and the squirrels chittering. I watched two of the sleek little critters chase each other up and around the trunk and over the branches like some sort of hairy, caffeinated Cirque de Soleil.

A bunny (thankfully without any white in his coat just yet) was nestled down near an empty table a few feet away, and he was so fat that his neck fluffed up around his soft bunny face. Every few moments, he took a leisurely nibble at the dandelion greens that may have led to his choice of lounging spot.

It seemed like every pair and group that passed me was conversing in a different language, and I was grateful for the wash of conversation that had nothing to do with me and that I couldn’t understand. I’m amazed at how many cultures and languages converge in this one place in the city, every day.

And so, I spent my time marinating in sun and peace and the joy of happy rodents. This afternoon granted me one of those lovely little spans that make life better in their simplicity.

Man, do I wish I was as nimble as a squirrel, or at the very least that I could enjoy greens as much as a rabbit.

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