Friday, November 20, 2009

The Great Outdoors

""Well," said Pooh, "what I like best—" and then he had to stop and
think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do,
there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better
than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. "
-A.A. Milne

I don't know about you, but in different chapters in my life I fall into different patterns. This is not a bad thing. In fact, I think it's good to be stable (even if some of your patterns are less than stable. To wit, for the past few months, every night I put my asthma medication in my mouth like werewolf teeth and sneak up behind Laurie and growl at her. Every night she falls for it or at the very least is kind enough to pretend like she does.) I also think there can be great vibrancy in a steady life. I'm also quite fond of form poetry (as opposed to the ubiquitous, undisciplined free verse of our modern age) for the same reason. Working in form often focuses one and allows for even greater insight and beauty to be expressed. This is part of why in my early 20s I had sort of an embarrassing over-excitement over the music of Philip Glass for a time. The idea of patterns that shift subtly so that one notices the shifts all the more appealed to me greatly. I still like his music, but I find myself going many months without feeling the need to play the Akhnaten overture whereas ten years ago I rarely went a week without playing it.

Patterns need not be ruts. The difference is attitude. Patterns can be one of life's richer experiences with the correct attitude.

So often I have found that these patterns leave our lives without intent and often without even noticing. Circumstances put us in a new job or a new living space and suddenly we no longer do A, B, and C every day.

We may remember them at odd moments in the far future with some fondness. Some of them we may go to our graves never recalling that we sort of lashed our brains together for a season with a series of predictable actions. Be it going to the library on Thursdays or having a cup of Earl Grey at 3:30 pm or feeding the neighborhood stray before leaving your home in the morning or taking the scenic route home or a friendly person who is in your life every day for a time.

I have one in particular in this chapter of my life which I love and which I'm actually about to do within the next hour. Before bed I take the dogs out and then put Cinco, our garage cat, into the garage for the night with a full bowl of cat food. I then usually check all of the locks in the car, the window of the garage and the lock on the garage door. Then I turn back to the house and there's a moment, just a few seconds really, of looking back at my house.
Having done this every night for several months I've noticed that the moon has changed in the sky. It used to be directly over the roof of the house about the time I'd be doing this little ritual. Also with the season change is that it's very cold outside, especially the past few nights.

The pictures you're seeing in this post come from last night. On Laurie's work nights she often has to wash her cleaning rags and just before we go to bed she puts them in the drier. This causes the whole backyard to fill with the steam from the drier outlet, giving an ethereal quality to the quiet crisp night air and the frost kissed blades of grass.

Of course, in this moment there is somewhere in my brain the realization that I will, in a moment, walk through that door and into the warm, cozy house where the heaters are blasting forth and there are blankets, a wife and two dogs waiting for me to succumb to sleep near. Walking from the cold outdoors is almost one of the grandest feelings I know, but in truth, even grander, is the moment before when I know how good it's about to be.

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