This is the second installment in my three post story of my vacation with Alice. If you missed Arriving, you can click the link and catch up there.
I awakened at dawn to a huge splash. It wasn’t light enough outside to catch the culprit. I had lain awake in the middle of the night looking out at the sky. There is no moon or light pollution so the vivid pricks of stars on the blanket of black feel very close.
More routines have emerged. Alice and I walk before it gets too hot. I take a quick, energetic paddle around the little pond. The beaver dam shows signs of activity and is not breachable from the water. I have not felt the urge to portage over it.
The air is dense with late summer heat, though every morning I notice more trees beginning to change to Autumn’s dress. Fans and a slight breeze keep the house cool. My spots to write include the breakfast nook and the patio. Both of these sound grand but the reality is far less luxurious. In truth, I no longer see the shabbiness of the lawn or the barrenness of the house. I focus on the smells and sights, the feel of the air on my skin and Alice’s incessant search for squirrels. She attempted to join me on the hammock. It didn’t end well.
Alice is used to the smooth boards of the deck and her own padded deck chair. The grass is stiff and prickly, bugs bite and the shade shifts rapidly. It would be good if she could figure out the hammock.
I took Limonata out twice, testing my strength and speed through the channels between the weeds. Alice was itchy. She harrumphed from spot to spot.
We retired to the house for an afternoon of reading on the couch. Slow rumblings of thunder made their way into my consciousness. I looked north to the mountain and saw the dark clouds shadowing her ragged peak. Suddenly a stiff breeze blew south across the front of the house. Trees began to sway. the channels grew wider as the lilies were pushed aside, the dark water caught the wind and danced before it. The rain never came beyond the mountain, but the air freshened and blue sky showed between the clouds. Narrow your focus…
We woke a dawn to the sound of something splashing along the shore. Camera in hand, I slipped out the door. Alice spotted a dreaded squirrel and chased it up a tree where it sat chattering abuse as she cursed it in Shar Pei Chinese from the ground below. Nowhere in history have dogs been able to climb trees but she insists it is possible.
A long-legged gray heron preened amid the lilies just out of range. Thick, fog clouds rolled down the pond, obscuring the opposite shore and softening the rising sun. We sat as my coffee cooled and the light shifted, trying to capture the bird as it stalked breakfast.
So what is learned in my three days of solitary writing?
- Words come when they want. Flowing freely from a thought that bubbles to the surface, or being wrenched from my gray matter like a worm from the ground by the early bird on the lawn.
- The space of thirty years made writing down my life easier the first time. The project of a second book is fraught with memories still too raw and painful to share with the world and those who lived through them with me.
- Alice and I can NOT share a hammock.
- Nature will inspire or irritate me with its self-centered flow.
- A kayak is only as stable as its occupant.
- I could see the lawn as being in dire need of mowing. That fact could ruin my enjoyment of the moment and cause me to stew. Or I could revel in the late summer burst of green growth that will be a memory soon. It hides crickets that thum and sing. It waves in the slightest breezes that rush across the pond, blowing down from the mountain.
- Time cannot be controlled no matter how many false segments I employ; hours, days, years. Instead of looking at the clock and saying, “It’s 10am and there are still dishes in the sink!” I should look at the sky and light for what inspires me next. I have carved this time out to erase the limits hours put on me.
I will sharpen my focus…
Moments lost in thought as the hammock gently sways. The breeze lifts the leaves overhead as I gaze without seeing. I am in Jamaica, the hammock house on the cliffs at Lighthouse Park. Those hammocks were cocoon-like, rough marine ropes that required a towel lining to ward off the prickly fibers. This hammock is smooth cotton stretched wide on either end offering a taunt bed.
Feeling the need for total solitude, I tried leaving her in the house. Safely settled with familiar music and a fresh bowl of water, fans cooling her, I thought she would be calm. She cried and muttered, running up and down the stairs. Give it time, I thought. Soon her chattering stilled. Like a reluctant toddler put down for a nap, I waited for her to tire. Moments later her sad complaints began again. Seeking relief for both of us I released her into the yard with me.
Later, I pull on respectable (by summer standards) clothes and drive out to the farm stand I saw on the road in several days ago. It was bustling with people picking up their CSA baskets laden with tomatoes, kale, fresh melons and all sorts of veggies. “Are you CSA only?” I asked.
“No, just give me a minute and I’ll show you where everything is,” smiled the owner, a pretty young mom in her 30’s with kids streaming behind. Pink, plump, heirloom tomatoes the size of my fist, a bag of fresh salad greens and a wedge of smoked mozzarella went into my basket. I looked around for her when it was time to pay and saw another shopper dropping cash in a locked wooden box. I guess there must have been a system to make change but I rounded the price of my purchases up to the amount in my hand and caught her smile as I left…support your local farmer!
A fire is lit in the outdoor grate, the crickets are chirping and clouds sail over the mountain top reflecting the setting sun. Somewhere down the road, a car door thumps closed and I imagine someone coming home from work; weary, and hot, breathing in the smell of pine and smoke.
I’ve listened to nothing but Trace Bundy’s guitar solos this entire time. Softly repeating without intruding, in the background, creating the soundtrack for this particular chapter.
Maybe it just takes 48 hours for the human and canine body to shed the stress of change and find peace. Tonight, that is exactly what has happened. It is only 7:30 pm but Alice has gone to bed.
A massive thunder-storm rolls through in the night. I turned out the lights and was taking deep breaths, slowly relaxing from my toes to my scalp when a flash of light illuminated the lake and the mountain beyond. I counted slowly and the thunder came five seconds later. I imagined the storm was five miles away though I had no sense of direction. Another flash, my counting stopped at three and the sound of rain hitting the tin roof drowned out the music. Glorious, erratic bolts of light played across the water whose surface danced with an onslaught of drenching drops.
For a full fifteen minutes, the world was a symphony of storm. I thought, “how fortunate to have a front row seat from my bed.” Narrow your focus…