when suddenly you find yourself on summer retreat
tumbling out of my bedsheet, planting my stiff toes on the hardwood planks, it dawned on me that i’ll be home alone most of today. and tomorrow. and the day after. it dawned on me that through happenstance and the spontaneity that is defining this summer, i’ll soon be immersed in a summer’s retreat. the sort of stretch of time that clouds my vision in gauzy doris-day blurred edges, that nearly dizzies me, and surely makes me giddy.
it’s a rarity these days to be home alone under this old roof. and i’m a girl who needs a bit of solitude to think things through, to soak up simple joys and silence, to see a stretch of unoccupied time unspooled before me, far as i can picture.
here’s how i happened into it, this elixir of time and possibility: the college kid, the one whose dorm i run all summer, he’s off to get a taste of a big ten school up wisconsin’s way, and my sweet mate, he’s off on the jersey shore being an angel to his mother. so that leaves me. and a tall stack of poets to while away a weekend. to take in summer in my own sweet tempo. to saunter through a farmer’s market. to pluck fistfuls of herbs from my very own patch of farm. to sleep with windows wide open and shades not pulled (the better to catch dawn’s first light). to listen to the ticking of the clocks. and watch the blue jays chase away the noisy sparrows.
any day now there’s an editor who’s going to ping me on my little clamshell, and suddenly i’ll be on deadline, in rewrite-and-edit phase of a manuscript now idling on the book-assembly line. but in the meantime, since her calendar got backlogged, i’m on guilt-free time. i can manage not to accomplish much in the writing department and not feel too, too guilty. after all, she’s the one who called time-out.
so here i am with lots of thoughts and a rare dollop of time to let them soak me through and through. thinking while puttering is a very fine endeavor, one especially fit for summer, when the puttering is plenty. there are weeds to mindlessly pull. and hoses that beg to be pointed in the right direction while thumbs are put to work, adjusting the spray with simple pivot and bend in the thumb joint. there are salads to heap on plates. and proseccos to be poured. there are pages to turn, and windows to stare out, though never mindlessly for a million curiosities pass by each and every day.
a summer’s retreat is an especially fine thing. because, like upstairs windows left wide open all through the night, the breeze comes easy, the air is soft, and i’ve little to do but lie there, soaking in its wonders.
the only certainty of this week’s-end ahead is the stack of poets idling beside me, calling me in whispers to please, please, please crack open each and every spine. here’s who’s on tap:
Wislawa Szymborską, the Nobel Prize-winning Polish poet, whose 27 poems in Here, a 2009 collection, consider life on earth, from the microbe to the apocalypse. It’s said to be “a virtuoso of form, line, and thought.” And, by my taste, it’s one of the great book covers of recent time. (see right).
The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone, and Sky, by Ellen Meloy. (2002) Call me quirky (in case you don’t yet) but I have an insatiable love of essays on otherwise little considered flecks of life: punctuation marks, colors, et cetera et cetera, and so the anthropology of turquoise is right up my alley.
A trilogy of American poets: Philip Larkin: The Complete Poems; Otherwise: New and Selected Poems, by Jane Kenyon, in whose New Hampshire farmhouse (the one she shared with poet Donald Hall) and barn I once spent a morning; The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, by Kay Ryan, U.S. Poet Laureate 2008-2010. This trio of poets promises to bring a wealth of deep sighs as their way with words is, for me, far better than the most sumptuous deep-tissue massage.
And, finally, I Belong Here: A Journey Along the Backbone of Britain, by Anita Sethi, a just-released book from Bloomsbury I’m reviewing…..on the cover, Lucy Jones promises, “This book will make the world a better place.” I’m all in.
and that’s how i’ll be unfurling this lazy stretch of most necessary time.
how would you spend a lazy stretch of necessary time, a summer’s sudden and unanticipated retreat?
I love imagining you with a stretch of time and nothing pressing and you, reading, in your garden, to the beat of natural time. Makes my heart soar!
love that: “to the beat of natural time.” no better time. hug from my garden to you. xoxox
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ……. heaven!
Oooh, bam, I think my stack of to-read books is going to get a tad higher with these tantalizing hints. What could be better on a summer afternoon than devoting time to reading–in a cool screen porch or a breezy, tree-shaded sunroom, with a condensation-kissed glass of mint-infused lemonade or sun tea on the side? A teacher-turned-artist friend has an exhibit of paintings inspired by Willa Cather’s literature and life at the Willa Cather Foundation in Nebraska. Her post about it inspired me, the erstwhile English major, to read “My Antonia” for the first time. (I know, how could I have missed that?) That’s how I’m well-spending a portion of my summer time. What are your favorite Cather books?
oh, now you have me wanting to read (yes, first time) “My Antonia,” and a shelf full of Cather. if only i could read forever. if only i could build a treehouse and escape inside with a giant water vat and a stack of books that needed to be carried up the ladder in multiple trips. if it was the long-ago days i would have brought a box of crackers up for munching purposes, and perhaps plucked a handful of wild things, as pretending i lived on the prairie was my favorite imaginary game when i was little. “Death Comes for the Archbishop,” was my favorite. but now you have me hungry for more…..
As I zigzag my way to Sheridan on the way home from the farmers market, I pass an exquisite treehouse, complete with double-hung glass windows, built around the substantial trunk of the requisite tree. I have half-joked about knocking on the door of the main residence and asking if I could rent the treehouse for the summer.
I love Cather and JUST finished “Lucy Gayheart” by her. Such lovely writing, evocative, describing the prairie and early Chicago perfectly. I even dragged my family to her home in NE years ago.
Willa seems to be spreading like wildfire here this morning. prairie wildfire, of course….
Poetry and puttering…shades left wide open to awaken to the dawn’s early light (💕 can you tell I am a morning person?) Windows open to the cool breeze… I can tell you live by the Lake. Out here in the western burbs the a/c has been on for several weeks! Enjoy your lovely retreat time!
i’ll try to blow some lake breeze your way! so sorry the prairie bakes in summer. its beauty is its prize…..
The Anthropology of Turquoise is calling my name. So is My Antonia. We just returned from a road trip to Denver and I gotta say I loved driving amidst the beauty of the grasses waving on the prairie throughout Nebraska.
somethin’ about those prairies…..stirs me too……