One summer a few years ago, I spent so much time sitting on the back patio just looking out into the garden. Every few days the blossoms of the shrubs and flowers changed. I filled the bird feeders every morning, and the birds rewarded my care with their presence.
Lounging on the patio, I saw more butterflies than I ever had before, watched more bees than I had ever watched before – hover bees, carpenter bees, bumblebees, bee flies, and even a few honeybees.
I loved it.
“I’m at the beach,” I told my friend. “It’s like I’m at the beach, and all I have to do in life is watch the waves!”
“Well, yes, but not quite,” she replied, reminding me I was deep in landlocked Ohio.
But I couldn’t help myself. I pretended and pretended. The fantasy grew stronger. I made up tides of the clouds that moved onto me from the west above the back locust trees, tides that dissolved in wisteria overhead, then rose from the west again. In the steady passing of the cars nearby, I heard waves breaking on my empty shore, soothing my concerns, disconnecting me from things I thought I might accomplish. The white, crescent Midwestern moon above me became the prime mover of my inland sea, cradling me, rocking me back and forth in its motherly phases.
Now in October, my brain has been so washed and lulled by the sea that I no longer have illusions that I will earn my way or discover answers. Spoiled, as well as instructed by the beach, I listen to the new surf of falling leaves telling me I have nothing left to do.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the second week of Middle Fall. In the meantime, go to the beach. It’s right there, outside your door.