Here's hoping students find an atmosphere of kindness, respect and good nature under bright blue skies when they return to school.
Case in point, when our dog, Karl, and I ventured outside for her morning walk on a recent Thursday, I couldn't help singing as we zipped along the sidewalk under a gorgeous, cloud-free sky.
"On a clear day, rise and look around you, and you'll see who you are," I sang. "On a clear day, how it will astound you, that the glow of your being, outshines every star."
I wondered how on earth I remembered the words.
"You'll feel part of every mountain, sea and shore. You can hear, from far and near, a world you've never heard before."
By the last line, I'd begun to bellow, using my entire diaphragm the way I'd learned in sixth-grade chorus.
"On a clear day, on a clear day, you can see forever, and ever, and ever and ever more."
About halfway through our 2-mile trek, I tried to switch to another Broadway song -- one from "Hello, Dolly!" -- that I'd left Pfeiffer Hall humming after North Central College's Summer Theatre Production on Aug. 5.
"It only … takes a moment ...," but I was stumped by the lyrics, so I reverted back to "On a Clear Day."
Now quite pleased with my choice of songs, I flashed back to my collection of Barbra Streisand albums, records that require a turntable. I miss those carefree, happy days when I used to sing along with Streisand for hours, without concern someone would object.
Then reality stepped in, reminding me I wanted to be at the recently redesigned patio of Main Street Promenade by 7 a.m. That's when sculptor Jeff Adams was expected to arrive to return Symbiotic Sojourn, a sculpture he'd created depicting Mother Earth with a recycling theme that developer Dwight Yackley had commissioned back in 2003 for the property.
I'd been there eight years ago for the first dedication, and also was present last May when Adams lifted his artwork onto a flatbed truck to take it back to his inBronze Foundry in Oregon, Ill., for a 400-pound renovation.
The original sculpture was designed to be set against a brick backdrop. The renovated piece would be partially 3-D at the top to accommodate a new lower privacy wall built of recycled bricks from the Naperville Creamery that produced Cock Robin Ice Cream.
I arrived at the same time as Mary Ann Junkroski, who'd stopped to watch on her way to work.
Adams was beginning to back his blue truck and trailer into the alley where a crane was waiting. He went straight to work, wrapping a single strap around his 2,400-pound work. Then, lift-by-lift, step-by-step, the crew methodically reset the sculpture.
We watched for about an hour while the crew secured it with new posts and prepared for finishing touches.
When I returned midmorning, three fountains were flowing around the base and the bronze plaque that identified the Century Walk piece had been placed again alongside the significant Symbiotic Sojourn.
"Prompted by the visionary activism of Barbara Ashley Sielaff, Naperville became a national leader in recycling with the establishment of the Naperville Area Recycling Center in 1973 …"
While studying the restructured sculpture with its "Spirit of the Earth" figure and other features to promote conservation, a rush of childhood memories engulfed me.
Back then, soda pop came in bottles that we returned to the grocery store for a deposit. "Keep America Beautiful" signs reminded us not to be "litter bugs."
We naturally conserved energy, turning off lights when not in use. We tightened faucets to prevent drips. My mother saved tinfoil, gift boxes, bows and wrapping paper to be reused. She hung her washed laundry on a line in the backyard to dry.
And I valued hand-me-downs from my cousin.
Many concepts to take care of the planet were simply a way of life.
In this highly-technical, complicated world with many state-of-the-art green alternatives, I've got to think that focusing on the basics is a powerful message, too.
"It only … takes a moment," I sang again, with renewed appreciation for what we can learn from the arts.