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February 26, 1997

Kate's birthday, and once again I was elated to give her some better gifts than the heart attack I had twelve years ago. Especially an illustrated book about trees from around the world-my contribution to the library she's building for herself and for Heritage Trees of Iowa City, the long-term preservation project she's been spearheading the past several years. That book is also an emblem of the travelling we hope to do in the years to come, a leafy reminder of why I should be looking forward to retirement. Skimming its pages after she opened it at lunch, I gazed at seductive photographs of trees and places I've never seen before-the grass trees of Australasia, the fever trees of South Africa, the Araucaria trees of Chile.

But this afternoon I was back at the office for conferences with Angela who's working on an MFA thesis about her Chicano heritage, and Jean who's keeping a journal about coping with her mother's rapidly failing memory. Both compelling projects that I hope can be turned into publishable manuscripts. So. the thought of abandoning the know-how I've developed during forty years of teaching is difficult to accept, particularly when students ask if I can serve on their theses after I've retired. I wonder if it might be possible for me to stay on as an unpaid consultant to the program. As an adjunct professor rather than a professor emeritus. As someone who can help colleagues and students develop their manuscripts and get them placed with agents and publishers.

Or am I just looking for excuses to avoid the unavoidable? And if that's the case, why can't I just let go of it all without trying to hang on in one way or the other? Retirement, after all, is a time for new ventures, yet for some reason I seem wedded to my same old job. What a strange thing-to know better, yet not be able to let go. As if it were an addiction rather than a profession.

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