Home » The Consolations of Nature
Category Archives: The Consolations of Nature
I am sloth incarnate.
I sit alone in a wing chair in the corner of my living room. The seat is an old friend and knows my shape by memory. It has already gone noon, but I remain rooted here, as I have done since early this morning, still clad only in a housecoat and slippers.
Like an animated, picture-perfect Christmas card, the snow is falling gently outside the living room window opposite me. Shrouding the landscape, the bare branches and the evergreen sentinels that comprise my view, in the tenderest of soft, white embraces. Except for the sound of the furnace engaging every now and again, and the metronomic constancy of the dining room clock calling out the passage of the seconds to me from around the corner, all is peace. The placid, untrammelled presence of early winter in the countryside.
It is the final day of my two-week Christmas break. I had plans aplenty to fill this day (as well as those that preceded it). Useful and vigorous schemes to “get things done around the house,” given that that I was going to have some extended “down time.” Now, however, there is only the complacency of my arse on a soft cushion. A tall stack of partially-read books rests companionable beside me, amongst which I flit like a busy, inconstant bee, drawn from one pretty, intoxicating bloom to the next. There appear to be some promising new releases on Netflix, as well. And, within reach, there’s a fresh, steaming cup of coffee…
And a lingering unease that it’s all slipping away too quickly. That I’ve used up these days of light and freedom far too indiscriminately. But I also know I must let such unease pass me by with nary a hint of recognition. For only if I am truly committed to wasting this final day will it, in turn, capitulate and reward me by offering up access to the depths of the recumbent, tranquil treasures it has in store.
The snow continues to fall. My books await. Tomorrow, sitting on a very different chair, in front of a screen straining under the burden of an inescapable digital avalanche, this peace will be a dim, unlikely memory.
I am sloth…
It’s one of those wonderful late spring days here in my neck of the woods. Except for the fact it would be nice to see just a little more blue in the sky, it’s damn near perfect.
It’s not, for instance, so hot or humid yet as to have become uncomfortable. The temperature today is essentially non-temperature. It fits one’s body so comfortably and un-self consciously that you’re not sure where the breeze ends and your skin begins.
The birds are singing like they’ve rediscovered Eden and all the flora on my little one-acre homestead is ridiculously lush and verdant. In the full ripeness of its ultimate summer capacity. The giant, mature fruit trees in my front yard are slowly winding down from last week’s expansive flowering display; the delicate pink petals of the magnolia likewise, only just beginning their short freefall to earth.
The lilac, on the other hand, fragrant and old fashioned, is coming on strong now. Purpling up nicely. And even though I didn’t take nearly as much care as I should have to put my roses to bed for the winter last fall, they too are reaching for the sun. Even the Ingrid Bergman — my favorite — which I thought was a goner, is showing new growth.
The grass is freshly cut (and shows no signs yet of yellowing, which it will before August is through). Four of my eight perennial beds are weeded and partially mulched already (though I fear my few strawberry plants have become dangerously weed-infested this year and I haven’t had a chance to get to them yet). My white slat fence is newly painted and I’m a a third of the way through the edging on the stone walk-way to my front door.
As for myself, I’ve just had my first couple of lobsters of the season (yeah, living in Atlantic Canada, we’re a little spoiled when it comes to lobster). I’ve got a nice summer-time beer (with a hint ‘o lime) in hand, and I’m about to recline on the couch for a couple of hours — overlooking the tranquility of my freshly manicured front yard — reading The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard (who I’ve only just discovered) and munching on super-soft, sour jujubes.
This is the kind of day I only ever encounter a couple of times a year (though I do often meet its “siblings” over the course of the remaining three seasons — check out A Walk in the Back Fields, for example). Later in the summer, as I have already noted, the grass will lose it’s emerald luster. And even by June some of the leaves will already start to die off for the year. By August, the foliage that surrounds my house will still be generally green, but it won’t shine like it does today. My crisply-edged, neatly-mulched flower beds will soon start to weed over again and any number of mundane work-a-day crises will prevent me from getting back to them in quite the timely manner in which, from the vantage point of June 2, I still hope to be able to tend to them.
Even for me, as of June 2, the summer still holds out its alluring promise of redemption. It hasn’t yet slid away without me logging a respectable number of weekly jogs, riding my bike to work on a regular basis or playing innumerable games of tennis with my son. But it will, as it does every year, and I’ll be kicking myself I didn’t take more advantage of it when I had the chance. As surely as tomorrow is Monday and it’s back to work.
But, for today, the birds are chirping in the background and my chesterfield awaits.
Enjoy your Spring.