This summer so far has been one of open windows, silent televisions, long stretches of working with no noise but my fingers on the keyboard, my dog’s toenails on the hardwood floors, and the birds calling outside my windows. It has been a summer for long morning walks beneath the flock of pigeons launching off the roof of a house down the street, evenings hoping to catch sight of our neighborhood fox, and gathering our books and magazines to take outside to read. Weekends have been spent in our garden, pulling weeds, checking on growth, finding the latest chipmunk hole or bee nest in the ground.
In fact, we have a bee nest in the ground in our front yard that houses sweat bees and we’ve seen their little green faces looking up at us from the hole that goes into the nest. It’s a funny sight – especially when the bee pulls itself back inside and then reappears a little while later, its face filling the nest opening. It was as if the bee was checking to see if we were still watching. Maybe it was. We marked the nest area with a stick stuck upright into the dirt so we wouldn’t mow over it, determined to leave the bees alone. They have every right to be there.
Tuesday morning, as I was reading outside on our deck, I stopped to look up and realized I could barely see any neighbors’ houses beyond the thick growth of birch trees, white pines, and spruce that fill our back yard. The illusion of privacy was strong in that moment, the feeling that everyone else was beyond sight a welcome one. I felt particularly thoughtful as I had just finished reading Michelle Obama’s well-written book, Becoming. I was thinking about life in the public eye, the way one can either embrace it for the opportunities it offers, or squander it with careless behavior and remarks. I was thinking about the difference between the Obama presidency and the current one, and felt a wave of sadness. I – we – have hardened to the daily news, some of the shock of who now lives in the White House eroded after these past couple of years of constant reckless, vile behavior. Behavior that makes most people I know feel unsafe.
There is much solace to be found in quiet. For writers, it’s a must. For anyone who wants to think about things, it’s required. As an antidote to the daily news, it’s recommended.
Later on Tuesday, rain arrived. Tranquil. Cleansing. Dirt made into mud, into liquid, into a moving stream that travels, always, to sewers, catch basins, and onward, away.
A reminder that sometimes it really is that simple.