Poppy field in a hollow, Whidbey Island

In the early morning before the sun hits the tops of the trees it’s so quiet on the island it’s like the quiet has its own sound that expands to surround you. Even the clouds appear fixed over the water, frozen. The silence is a stage inviting you to undo it, a union of omissions, a contrast from our normal lives, though strangely unsettling.

I walked out on the back porch, used a pair of wool socks to wipe the pine needles from a chair, caught my hand in a spider’s web…and the bird sounds grew; I watched a wren bathe itself in a bird bath, and though the western cedars were rust colored with dead fronds the yards were starting to green up, though patchy—and I sat there thinking this is the country, it’s why people come here, a lot of the reason is in the sounds, the sense that time moves differently, that you’re more in tune with nature. Though it brought me a momentary peace it was hard to stand, and rather than take it head on I went meta and blipped out of myself, had to judge the moment noteworthy, had to step out of the frame to fully see it.

The owners of the cottage we rented left family portraits of themselves on the walls off to the sides, and it’s like they were looking over us: it really felt like their souls were with us, the house felt loved, and so did we by extension.

The hummingbird by the lavender paused, it made itself known just before leaving.

The clouds came down but the moodiness they brought gave me joy for the change, made the spots of blue in the sky even brighter, through the contrast with the white and gray.

And here I was in rhapsody, a collection of Robert Frost on the entertainment console inside: Dutch paintings of poppy fields and tulips alongside Frost’s perfect rhymes: perfect splashes of garden walks, autumn hollows…and as I sat and dreamt all this I stabbed it out in ant-like steps on my phone: and with the latest iOS it had grown smarter in its ability to predict, it knew the boundaries of my language didn’t run far, the vocabulary of my yard: the iOS threw a lasso around my words and made them come out faster, and though I took what I could from the scene, blowing poems like bubbles in the air, they would only float and wobble to the side, hang for a moment, and drop.

I put on some music and lay on the couch, child’s laughter upstairs followed by a shout—and then I walked out the back door again but this time without glasses, and with my vision blurred it was true, everything looks like a French painting, “Late morning, Early fall.”

And as I lay there noticing how nice the place seemed I wondered if we’d grown spoiled, gotten used to nice places and now couldn’t fully appreciate them, like our luxuries had deadened us—and is that what it really means, to be spoiled?

We threw the wet towels in the dryer for a bit, hoped we didn’t stain the countertop with our turmeric—

And we left the bathroom window cracked when we checked out.

The kids were faint hearted about grapes they accused as rotten and I came round to rescue them all from the garbage, consumed every one.

I flossed for the first time in two years, had to take an aspirin my gums were so sore, surprised by how much food was in there still.

And days later when we got home the cat sat on my lap imbuing her special calm, a stark insistence to just sit there that made her purr and settled me too, for a time.

Painting by Juliette Wytsman (1866-1925), De Geméisgaart


Categories: Memoir, musings, prose

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

22 replies

  1. I always enjoy Whidbey Island❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the way you write…… It’s like music.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful, flowing. The bit about the lasso and the bubbles, that’s a poem right there.
    My eyes have trouble taking in landscapes; they’re too used to the narrow view, like looking through a cardboard tube.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a real nice one. You strike the mood just right. Plus you get a Seinfeld reference in there with the bit about glasses and Impressionist paintings. Blurred is the word.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A nice piece, I enjoyed stepping into its atmosphere.
    I see Keven Brennan’s comment above, and that sentence had also caught my eye.
    My father, who’s worn glasses since he was a kid, has mentioned many times his pleasure in taking them off and stepping into an Impressionist painting – sometimes Monet, when his allergies act up and things are watery, and then on to pointillism when the sun is in his eyes. He wouldn’t know a Seinfeld reference, but has always mentioned a story “The Admiral on the Wheel,” Thurber’s adventures with myopia. It’s a bit nerve-wracking if you look over, and realize Dad is driving without his specs, and swerving & commenting on how many rabbits (generally plastic grocery bags) are crossing the road.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Robert and thank you for such a thoughtful comment (one of those comments you read a few times). It’s especially nice when you hear from a reader who ‘gets’ what you were going for, in this case creating an atmosphere as you put it. I try to collect a feeling from a place and relay it, however abstract, as a self-serving way to preserve and try to understand it, but also in hopes of course that it triggers images/feelings in readers, which it sounds like it did here this time for you…so thanks for letting me know! “Upstate style,” baby (I have family from Schenectady and went to school for a spell in Erie). Represent, yo. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks Bill, what a great atmospheric piece of writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Enjoyed that ponderable idea of luxury being more than things, maybe places, maybe opportunities. How to freshen our watery eyes, that’s the thing; you did it here.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Good one. Strangely enough I’d just read a post that finished with a bit of Ray Bradbury, your atmospherics had a similar flavor.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi thanks for linking to my post! Bill



  1. ART | William Pearse | WordNerdProblems

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