Archived Story

The sounds of school’s return

Published 12:32pm Tuesday, August 20, 2013

You need only to stop and listen a few seconds to know what time of the year it is. As I sit here at The Outlook, I just heard the final bell ring on the first day of school, and the roar of teenaged drivers still cuts through the office every few minutes.
Later this afternoon, there will be the distant crack of football pads colliding, blended with the sound of drums and horns as the band continues to warm up its halftime show.
The diesel roar of school buses growled by this morning – and back again this afternoon.
The sound of excited children bounced around the house as I was waking up – they were dressed and ready before 7 a.m. – followed soon by the blessed gurgle of brewing coffee.
My daughter is starting middle school for the first time this week.
My son is a second grader, and I must admit his upbeat tone of voice was a surprising sound to this proud, still drowsy, dad.
And I bet the stay-at-home moms in the community revelled in that greatest of sounds after the bus pulled away: The sound of silence.
There was no bickering, shattered glass or too-loud cartoons to contend with today in households across the community, as area moms celebrated the return of a few hours of peace and quiet.
The sound of my wife’s voice – carefree and relaxed – told the story when I spoke to her a little while ago. We all love our little ones, but it’s hard to deny a sense of relief when they again become somebody else’s problem for a few hours a day.
We’ve almost arrived at my favorite time of the year, one my colleague Robert noted last week. High school football season is up there with Christmas and the Fourth of July in my book. And in the newspaper business, it requires the same long-range planning and harried writing.
For the last five or six seasons I’ve covered my hometown Panthers down in Eclectic. And I’m not a press box kind of guy. I like to walk the sidelines, five or 10 yards ahead of the offense, juggling camera and notepad to capture the action as well as the (mostly) precise yardage.
I’ve taken my share of hits that way. A diving receiver almost took out my knees at a game last season. Early in my career, a linebacker knocked me off my feet, which I now take as a mark of honor.
That senior linebacker from Eclectic is now a starting offensive lineman for the New Orleans Saints, Ben Grubbs.
But the screech of the whistle, the pops at the line of scrimmage, the roar of the crowd and the crackling echo of the announcer are the soundtracks of autumn in my mind.
Fall is in the air, but the color of the leaves has nothing to do with it. The sounds of school is the ambiance of autumn.
Goodwin is a staff writer for The Outlook.