Inside my kitchen with the windows shut, I can still hear the high vibrational buzz of the humming birds hitting the juice in the feeder. It surprises me. The sun hasn't broken yet over the mountain but the first light of day crept through my bedroom door minutes before. Nudging me to get up and make a pot of tea. In the feng shui way of one door matching another, the all-glass door to my tiny deck outside my upstairs room, is where the light is headed. Just hours ago, when the sun was setting, it was the glass door where the light entered the room. We are tumbling through space and time while we sleep, which explains a lot.
It might be the ice cream. I can go months without the treat. When I'm with The Grands, of course, and they want it, we all scream for ice cream. But on my own I forget it somehow. And yet, this summer, I have been indulging many nights before bed. Chocolate-covered ice cream bars of different flavors. Just one. And done. And I swear, it helps me sleep. And more importantly, it helps me dream. And my dreams have been multi-layered plots with characters I recognize and not. Different places in time and countries and exotic stories that disappear, mostly, upon waking. I just wake with a sense of adventure in my blood.
Which is good. Since my job keeps me in town all summer I have to travel in my head. I have been gobbling up books at night, I just finished "The Invention of Wings," by Sue Monk Kidd ("The Secret Lives of Bees" and so much more).
I have picked up a few magazines and tried to understand global politics and finances and new technology and that feels like a journey too far most days. Newspapers too, of course, multiple sources for local, state and international coverage of how we are treating one another. On the whole, not with universal kindness.
And in my suspended summer state something has happened to alter time. Many, many of my work days are at a frenetic pace, like the flapping of those hummingbird wings. Darting. Dashing. Then somehow the universe slows down and time extends boundaries and porch sitting with friends -- my porch, their porch, it doesn't seem to matter -- stretches out to make up for those compacted days. Dinners from grills, drinks and snacks, conversations started decades ago with relationships which have withstood changes in the town and ourselves. I am grateful for these respites in a disproportionate way.
In fact, this is a summer where gratitude comes up often. The rain has probably cut my water bill in half in the past month and my lawn could be mistaken for one with sprinklers. The tiny flowers I have planted have thrived and my herb garden is abundant with oregano and chives and mint, of course mint. Chamomile and sage, rosemary and so many lavender plants I dream in shades of lavender. All those smells... when the rain stops... perfume the air.
On nights that I can be by myself, I hide. There is a tiny porch created a few years ago between the body of my house and the garage. A wooden deck and a long wooden bench instead of a railing. My reader's wide-armed, deep-pocketed chair is there and a tiny table. I can read and watch the birds take off and land on all the feeders in the yard. The laughter of the neighborhood children floats above me and the smoke from someone's barbecue curls over the fence. It is a pocket of time and space I cherish.
With the unaccustomed thick, often wet, grass in my yard, I often walk barefoot to pick up the morning newspaper (there are no longer evening papers, I realize) in the driveway and scurry back to my deck. The nocturnal damage to the yard is part of living in a declared zone of creature harmony. Yes, branches have been broken off the trees in the night. Deer often, occasionally a moose. Probably the raccoons naughty, naughty raccoons, who have also knocked over the bird feeders and undone the tops and scooped out, in messy handfuls, the nuts and seeds within. Holes burrowed into the grass like a bad whack-a-mole game. Voles/Moles/Potguts? I have seen them all scurry under rocks this summer.
Spectacular storms have allowed me to leave all the doors and windows open with screens in place and listen to the symphonic music of the rain and timpani of the thunder. It has been a sensual summer, rich in textures and vibrations and opportunities. And a kind of renewed respect for being a tiny warp in the weave of so many related things. Sunsets shared and humming bird wings. And suspended Sundays in the Park....
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the organization that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.