I smelled it the other day.
It is a smell peculiar to this time of year. It took me years to figure out what it is.
It used to cause a slight sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I associated the smell with football practice in the August heat. It made me think of early morning wind sprints and lying down in the dew-soaked grass. It always reminded me of the dread I felt as carefree summer days gave way to the return to school and homework and tests and early bedtimes.
What is it? It’s the smell of kudzu as it begins to bloom in late summer.
I still associate the smell with football. But now it’s an exciting sensation. I won’t be running any wind sprints—you can bet on that. I’ll just be dreaming of championships. All of my teams are undefeated right now. So are yours.
It still makes me think of school starting. That changes much for many of us. Traffic will change. Schedules will require adjustment.
And I sort of hold my breath and hope that everybody uses good sense.
I hope that children choose their friends wisely. That parents and teachers work together. That people drive safely. That school resource officers don’t have to make many arrests.
I hope that conflicts are resolved peacefully. I pray that kids don’t abuse alcohol or drugs. Maybe kids that are vulnerable to bullies will find acceptance and bullies will face the appropriate consequences.
I dream of students accomplishing great things—excellence with a musical instrument, the awakening of that curiosity that permits a burst of academic discovery, a glimpse of the opportunity to make an imprint upon the world.
I hope students find lifelong friends. I hope they experience true love.
Perhaps they will recognize that the teacher in the front of the room is also a mentor. Maybe their coach, administrator, school resource officer, or counsellor will prove to be a role-model.
Some students don’t have safety or security at home. May they find sanctuary in our schools and begin the journey to a better home life.
It’s funny how things evolve.
That smell of kudzu blooming doesn’t make me sick in the pit of my stomach anymore.
It makes me dream.
Scott Ballard is District Attorney of the Griffin Judicial Circuit, which consists of Fayette, Pike, Spalding and Upson counties.