Sunday, August 23, 2009

halcyon days

I would like to say that biking back from a coffee with a friend brought to my mind the words of Walt Whitman, but that’s not exactly a correct recount of my thinking.

Instead, it went something like this:

The day began early (6 is early by anyone’s measure) and soberly. Cleaning house. Finding a leaking washer, wondering if there is a more boring expense on this planet than fixing a leaking washing machine.

A beautiful day outside, but I was slated to stay indoors. Good thing. Getting that thing repaired is bound to cost a small fortune. Is it ever otherwise? If I thought my moonlighting would pay for a late end of year trip to that other continent, I understood today that it would not. Instead, if I’m lucky, my washer will no longer leak by the end of 2009.

But here’s where the story changes. After work, I biked to meet up with a friend over a beverage. [We couldn’t decide if a 4:30 meet up was wine time or coffee time; she settled for a soda; I settled for a… oh, I bet you got that one wrong! Early wine is a vacation thing. I am not on vacation. Coffee. I had coffee.]

We drank (soda and coffee), we reviewed the imperfections that are thrust upon any ordinary citizen and soon after, I cycled home.

I followed the bike path past late summer gardens -- half vibrant, half late August dry…


… and on toward my condo, cutting through neighborhoods and parks, past Madison scenes that no longer surprise me (these two parked their car at the curb, took out their ladders and began picking. What are those? I asked. Sort of a wild cherry. Very tart unless you cook it).


At home, I sat back and considered my handful of photos: late in the summer snapshots of halcyon days. End of the season. End of sending kids off to school. End of the day. Trees spilling wild cherries onto the sidewalk. The only thing that remains is to pause, watch, ponder. From there it doesn’t take long to get to Whitman.

Not from successful love alone,
Nor wealth, nor honor'd middle age, nor victories of politics or war;
But as life wanes, and all the turbulent passions calm,
As gorgeous, vapory, silent hues cover the evening sky,
As softness, fulness, rest, suffuse the frame, like freshier, balmier air,
As the days take on a mellower light, and the apple at last hangs
really finish'd and indolent-ripe on the tree,
Then for the teeming quietest, happiest days of all!
The brooding and blissful halcyon days!