The past day has made me pause, and realize that it’s time to set aside a little of what’s best about this season, this community. Pay attention. Make note. Maybe even save some of it, put by, to pull out again during cooler and busier times of the year.
Many of us have transitions coming up at the end of the summer. Maybe sooner. School resumes. Work hours change. Pressures seem to mount up. Children have different schedules and needs, or go off to their own new destinations (our living daughter is headed for college). Demands on our time, energy, focus and resources grow more pronounced.
Meanwhile, there is something just a bit slower and more reflective about summer months. We take a little longer to finish projects, linger over meals, sit outside in the fading daylight hours, sip a beverage, talk until night truly falls, and realize that we’ve captured some memorable moments along the way.
Yesterday, despite hours of work, I had time to savor a few experiences. And it made me realize that just like picking fresh produce in the fields at Appleton, and maybe preserving some of that summer vitality as sauces and other pantry goods, to be stored up for later use … it’s a good idea to stock up on some sunny, special moments now, to draw upon later.
For instance, while Chris was at a meeting for the United Way yesterday evening and Sarah was out with her peers, I walked over to Meryl’s house near the river. As twilight fell, I sat still long enough for Raina, Meryl’s daughter, to paint an extravagant henna tattoo on my ankle and calf. Caught up briefly with friend Terri about her photography and some of the projects that are coming up. Spoke to a local writer about her jaunt to Harvard’s Baker Library with a member of the Heard family for a celebration of Augustine Heard and our historic economic connections to China. As Raina traced out her henna design, she and I talked about theater and dance, boarding school and sacred symbols in tattoos, and the future of the kittens she and her mother are fostering. Despite being allergic to cats, I bottle-fed and cuddled a tiny grey furball named Brie, just a few weeks old, who is technically under the care of the Merrimack Feline Rescue Society, but is living for a few more weeks in their home, learning to be people-friendly, playful and to expect affection in his life. (Aaacchhhoooo.) Meryl shared a scoop her homemade chocolate cayenne ice cream, made in anticipation of family arriving this weekend. The scent of lavender oil infused into henna clung to my skin, and the unexpected bite of spicy seasoning in sweet dessert stayed on my tongue.
Later I was invited to a late dinner with our neighbors Hugh and Gary. Over the table we discussed books and travel to Maine, friendship and work, pets and family, the fate of old musical instruments, and all kinds of food. Good things that we all love. We talked about the connection between daily yoga and the habit of prayer, meditation as a channel to God, what we believe about life here and a spiritual life beyond this one. I walked home, barefoot, in the dark, gallantly escorted to my front door by Gary. At the end of the night, I snuck in a few pages of a novel by Daniel Silva. Went to sleep, holding Chris’s hand in the utter darkness, as if we were the only two people in the whole world.
Tattoos, art, kittens, tomato-basil salad, chilled wine, history, recipes, books, friends, photography, travel, family, reflections on loves ones departed and living … it all wound into the beauty of the latter part of the day.
If I can decant such times, distill them and put them into the pantry of my heart and mind, I will be able to draw them out later. Hold up their deep golden colors and purple shadows to catch the light. Savor again their pungency and sweetness, motes of dusty summer drifting through the layers of flavor and memory. Close my eyes, release sensory richness from its captive state, and recall what is good about an evening in this community. Let days like this one warm up my soul from the inside out.