I mowed the lawn yesterday – the second mowing of the season – and, surprisingly, I actually enjoyed the job! I strolled behind the bulky, noisy machine as it clipped along the top of the grass, and the process, strangely enough, became a quiet meditation time for me. I carried a few good thoughts inside me like I was carrying a comforting basket of snacks while the trusty mower and its boisterous sounds gave the grass a smooth and special trimming.
Later in the afternoon, we joined a few friends for an hour of silent meditation, and it was good, as always, to sit completely quietly in this very unquiet world for a few minutes.
Last night, after dinner, we both found ourselves sitting in the sunroom as the sunlight slowly disappeared. This was a big change for us, since usually we spend most of our time after dinner in our bedroom near the television, though not always watching television. For some reason, we have grown into the bedroom habit – I suppose because several years ago we did actually watch television in the evening, but now that habit has slowly almost disappeared. Anyway, last evening for some reason we both gravitated toward the sunroom, and before long we both realized that it is a wonderful place to spend an hour or so as the sun goes down. I suspect we will be doing this more often as the spring and summer progresses.
May 9, 2019
Yesterday we had a long but happy day in New Haven, browsing through the Yale University Museum of Art, lunching at Atticus Bookstore and Café, and then watching another astonishingly unconventional theater performance at Yale Repertory Theater. I admired the acting very much, and the political and moral philosophy of the play was strong and timely, but I must say that I, as I usually do at Yale Rep, got a bit lost among the innovative twists and turns of the plot. All in all, though, it was the kind of jolting, out-of-the-ordinary experience that is helpful and healthy for me.
Yesterday, we attended our weekly Friday morning writing class, and I was amazed – astonished, really – by the writing that was done by these very ordinary classmates of ours, all in their 70s or above, and all quite willing to share the deepest and most personal stories in their writing. At the end of the 20-minute writing period, we all were able to share what we had written, as usual, and I just sat back and was pleasantly overwhelmed by what I was hearing. These are all women, except for me, and they all – including Cia – spoke so honestly of heartaches and joys and fears and pleasures that lived in their memories of their various homes. Several women were in tears as they read, and there was a feeling of utter attentiveness around the table as we listened to our classmates. I found the entire 90 minutes to be truly amazing – and inspiring.
I mowed the lawn for the first time yesterday afternoon, just cruising around the front yard behind my big old machine, which amazingly does a wonderful job of trimming the grass and giving the lawn a good look for the month of May. Delycia has done a wonderful job of feeding the lawn every spring and fall, and so there is a richness, even a lushness, to the grass in the front yard, which made it feel like I was walking on a soft carpet as I followed the lawnmower around the yard.
Just before lunch today, we went for a 40 minute hill-walk, up and down the “heartbreak hills” in Mystic near the library, and I was very pleased with the way my old body handled it. I walked along, striding right beside Delycia, who is one of the fastest walkers I have ever known. As usual, we talked some, but we also had some minutes of quiet, time to huff and puff deeply as we went up hills, and time to enjoy the scenery and some good thoughts inside.
May 3, 2019 Yesterday, Cia drove up to the Sherburn, MA, to visit Evelyn – leaving at 8:30 and not returning till after 5:00! I was alone and lonely for the whole day! Well, not really terribly lonely, since I did fill the time with careful work at my desk – sending out poems to publishers, writing a new one, meditating now and then, writing in my journal, reading a Hemingway story (which I didn’t understand), working out strongly on the stationary bike set up in the garage, and on and on and on. I did miss my sweetheart, for sure, but I filled the lonesome time with some serious and helpful work. I also wandered among her lovely, newly growing gardens, and took some photos. Such a beautiful yard to spend some spring and summer days in!
May 1, 2019 Yesterday, after lunch, we went to the Y for a brief but spirited workout. I decided to spread the time between several types of exercise – some stair-climbing, some uphill work on the treadmill, some different weight machines, and even, at the end, some short balancing work by the window looking out over the water. (It is, for sure, a pleasure to have the Y’s spread-out space to do our workouts, especially with the windows overlooking the beautiful waters surrounding the Mystic shoreline.) Later, Cia went off to a get-together with a friend, and I started a springtime fire in the fireplace and spent a few luxurious hours in front of the comforting flames, with a book in my lap and a cup of tea close by. When Cia returned, there were still a few warm flames left for her to enjoy, curled up on the loveseat.
Yesterday, we took a somewhat strenuous walk – three times up and down the Peace Sanctuary road, and then into Mystic and back, a total of three miles that felt like six or seven to me. As usual, though, walking with Cia was a delightful experience, just whizzing along at her brisk pace, chatting every so often, and sometimes simply striding ahead and thinking quiet, good thoughts. It helped that we were walking along the Mystic River, with its sparkling waves and the bright ships across at the Seaport, and a few gaily colored kayaks moving along the stream. This photo captures some of the experience, I hope …
On Saturday, at Jamie’s,we attended a marvelous family celebration for Ava, honoring her 12th birthday. It was a cold, slightly wet day, but that didn’t hamper the celebrating inside. Ava was as pretty and unassuming as ever, just smiling and blushing as she received gifts and good wishes from the 15-20 people present. Cia and I agree that it was one of the friendliest, most easygoing family gatherings we can recall.
Yesterday, we went to our bi-weekly centering prayer gathering at our friend Gunilla’s home, and it was a small but quietly spirited meeting. Delycia and I sat in silence for an hour, with two other friends, and it seemed like all of us felt the flow of inspiration during those minutes.
We had to leave early, around 5:15, in order to drive over to Jamestown, where we would meet with another group of friends – the poetry gathering organized by two of our friends from the shoreline area of Rhode Island. The drive over to Jamestown was easy and pleasant, mostly because of the springtime evening light in the sky, which allowed us to appreciate the shoreline and inland scenery as we drove along in the slowly decreasing but still refreshing light. The poetry gathering, as it was the first time we met with that group, a hugely inspirational one for me, mostly because of two young poets who stood up and recited from memory some forceful and deeply-felt poems. I told Delycia I don’t recall in my memory ever hearing better poems spoken aloud by anyone – and the fact that they were recited from memory, with no book or cellphone to guide them, was especially remarkable to me. I have heard hundreds, maybe thousands, of poems spoken aloud over the years of my life, but never have I heard more powerful words delivered in a more poetic, personal, and fearless way.
April 27, 2019
Yesterday, we attended the annual Grandparents Day at The Rectory School, where we had a chance to meet with Ava’s other grandparents, John and Kath and Jan, and I think both Delycia and I enjoyed the occasion. I’m not sure young Ava enjoyed it, however, with her shyness and reserved personality. I saw some blushing cheeks on her several times throughout the day, but it warmed my heart to be with her, and with Delycia, and with John and Kath and Jan. It was a family finding companionship with each other in simple ways (smiles, hugs, handshakes, sincere conversation) – even though Ava may have wished it was over before it even began!
Yesterday, we drove up again to pick up Ava and Noah and prepare dinner for them, and, as usual, it was a pleasurable afternoon for us. It did require more driving than usual, since the kids were being picked up at times that were different from the usual routine, and so we had to be extra patient as we tried to figure out exactly where to pick them up and at what time. However, we worked it out in our easygoing way, and the afternoon and evening in beautiful Brooklyn turned out to be a success, as usual. I was the cook, and I tried my hand at preparing tacos for “taco Tuesday”. I think the kids enjoyed my menu, since they seemed to gather up the tacos and dispose of them in their tummies fairly quickly.
Last night, we attended our biweekly book discussion group, and an interesting thing happened. Usually, I am a fairly regular contributor during these discussions, but last night I found myself sitting in silence through most of the 90 minutes, just enjoying the comments made by my fellow readers. I realized, before too many minutes had passed, that these folks had read the short stories much more carefully than I had. Around the table, my fellow readers were excited, interested, talkative, full of smiles and curiosity, and obviously enjoying themselves as they discussed the three short stories we had read, while I found myself leaning forward, listening, and being thoroughly impressed with the insights my fellow book club members were demonstrating and sharing. I guess you could say it was a “wake up call” for me, since it helped me realize that I can’t just read quickly any of the stories or books we read in this group. My fellow club members are sharp, intense readers, and if I don’t wake up, I might be left behind!