There is a quality of light here that I have missed since I moved away; the sifted gleam of sunlight through wind-stroked trees. I have missed the roll of meadows fenced by the lacework of oaks and maples and overgrown vines. I have missed the lingering curl of summer flowers as they smile one last time before the frost. It’s good to be here in the autumn, to see fields sere and hushed and to walk long miles through the lace of newly barren trees.
I love the rhythm of life here; Gwen has a cadence to her hours that I join with great enthusiasm. We do small things together. We live life well. We began today with a long walk; down through her little town with it’s overgrown sidewalks, through the old, shadowed graveyard and down by the blue, blue lake. Before going in, we strolled around her yard, admiring the last green of the ivy, the last brave flame of the red geraniums. And then went inside with ready appetites; cut fresh sourdough bread and got out a block of gouda, sliced apples and sat at the table with hot coffee, talking, flipping through magazines, planning feasts and future cottages.
Our afternoon was spent in a round of visits and errands. The tradition of afternoon visits is, I think, a most wondrous thing. I don’t think it has survived in many modern places, but I treasure this town in part because it has retained its cozy, relational spirit. I know as many people here, oddly enough, as I do in my own town. Every time I make the trek out here from CO, my visit is filled with dinners and coffees and visits on the sun porch with friends I have met in my brief sojourns here. All those people with their easy friendliness fill me up with this silent, pulsing gladness.
We got home and roused Larla (Gwen’s elderly mom) from a nap and got her ready for an afternoon drive. Out through golden woods we went; down roads that looped through the harvested fields like the red ‘gypsy’s ribbon’ of the old poem. We had music of course; Loreena McKinnit. Have you ever noticed how once in awhile when you are riding in the car with music, the landscape and melody somehow merge into a world all their own? Well, it did today.
Home again, we bustled about for dinner. Gwen is tutoring me in her finest recipes and tonight she supervised me in the making of a feast. We fixed (ah, such a southern word!) a rainbow-hued stirfry of fresh peppers, onions and snowpeas with garlic chicken and a Thai peanut sauce over spelt noodles. A salad of baby greens, fresh parmesan and homemade balsamic dressing completed the meal. It was ridiculously delicious.
Darkness found us curled in the overstuffed chairs by the fireplace watching our second night of Our Mutual Friend. Gwen and I both (and my Mom as well) share a great fondness for those really good British miniseries. This is one of the best I’ve seen. (I’ve always liked this Dickens novel best of the ones I’ve read anyway.) It’s late now and we’re going to bed with the last hour yet before us (I don’t know if I can stand it!). It’s good to wind down now. The familiar old shout of the train whistle and chug of its wheels is rumbling in through the window; it is cool and dark and I have one of Gwen’s Wendell Berry novels waiting to walk me toward sleep.
There’s a song by a country artist that I used to hum around the house when I was little that went; if I could bottle this up, I could make a million… I feel that way about this day. You know that richness that comes once in awhile when you have the rare gift of a day to live slowly and well? I’ve had it. I don’t think we any of us get these days with any sort of regularity. But aren’t they good when they come. All I can say is, I’m thankful.
And I guess that’s about it. I’m heading for bed. Goodnight.