This morning I enjoyed a cup of coffee on our new deck while I journaled. I’ve been wanting to do this for years. First we didn’t have a deck, then we did, then I had a lot of reasons keeping me from doing exactly the things I wanted a desk for.
It was as much a revelation for what was not in the quiet (leaf blowers, neighbors’ music, infernal skeet shooting) as for what was: chatty blue jays descanting over a steady cicada rhythm. Even the traffic from the highway a few miles away, rather than an intrusion, was a pleasant reminder that life is going on in some capacity during pandemic.
The morning was warm, the cushions on the seats dry, and the kids were fed and tending to themselves. No reason not to enjoy the outdoors other than being tethered to routine and the internet.
I don’t want silence, I want quiet. Silence is for gremlins. Quiet lets me hear my thoughts.
I wrote a lot of them down. Nothing profound, nothing worthy of a second glance. I spent a lot of time gazing around and following the wind as it wove patterns in trees and plants. I drank my coffee. It tasted just as good as if I’d had it anywhere else, but I didn’t drink it while reading the news or catching up on the dozens of emails that populate my inbox overnight, reminding me in a different way that life goes on during a pandemic.
After lunch, I went back outside while my husband and my daughter work on her baseball skills. The sounds of lawnmowers competed with the sounds of my husband coaching my daughter on how to catch a baseball she’s worried is going to bean her. The dog’s collar tags jingle as he goes from open window to open window, not wanting to miss a minute of the fun, but stuck inside for now. It’s louder. Still pleasant.
I looked at my poor feet, which I’ve neglected for almost a year. I used to enjoy painting my toenails – I don’t like going to salons. I don’t wear sandals often, so the bright-to-obnoxious colors I use were my little secrets tucked away in my socks. I almost never paint my fingernails. It’s a lot of effort for something that, if I’m lucky, lasts only a few days. Besides, I don’t like to have idle hands. I can’t read a book or knit if my nails are drying, and no matter how long I wait between polish and book or polish and needles, it’s never quite long enough.
I have flowers on my deck table. They don’t last more than a few days, either. I enjoy them while they’re here, perky reminders the impermanence of beauty, then wait for the next set of flowers, which take their own kind of work.
It’s still quiet. A suburban quiet now, rather than the quiet that transfers from beach to mountain to back deck. Outdoor coffee quiet. My toes are now blue – bright cerulean. Calm and fun, like I’m at the beach and a more fun person than I usually am. My fingernails are unpainted. They are beautiful in their own dull plainness. There is work to do.