A Summer Evening

It’s a lovely night. A breeze lazily caresses the leaves, which dapple the deck as the sun fades below the house. The three dogs have claimed the elevated cots, with Data in the one overlooking the backyard. He lies there, nose firmly situated between the deck rails, perhaps hoping for another exciting encounter with a possum — much like his adventure late last night. Alas, the possum would not agree, even if he were able. The lifeless creature lies somewhere in the alleyway, flung there in the moonlight by a robed and slippered Charlie.

The sight of a grown man so clothed and carrying a snow shovel filled with dead possum in the heat of summer would have been funny had anyone seen it but me and the dogs. As it was, at least I laughed. Data couldn’t muster his happy feet; after all, it was his conquest Charlie so unceremoniously dumped out of reach.

I breathe deeply. There’s really nothing quite like a perfect summer evening spent on the deck, listening to the sounds of summer: the muted rumble of a far-off lawn mower, the infectious giggles of children punctuating the evening air, the brusque chip-chip-chip of a cardinal, the lovely lyrical trilling of a wren trying to lure her fledglings out of the nest not 12 feet away. That’s no simple task when the nest is deep inside a birdhouse formed as a face with the nostrils as entry and exit. The eyes may be the window to the soul, but in this case the nose is the window to the outside world.

This is, I think, how all summer evenings should play out. Two companions, two lovers, content to merely “be” with each other. Charlie reading a Louis L’Amour book — Sitka — a gift from our friend Susan for his birthday and commemorating our trip to Alaska. Never mind that we didn’t visit Sitka; it’s enough to have the reminder of that rather magical place and unforgettable trip. Me, doing what I love– capturing a slice of life and storing it away forever. Unbidden, the thought of fireflies captured and bottled by children everywhere sneaks into my mind.

It’s been a busy summer already. Too much travel and too little downtime. It only serves to reinforce something I’ve long believed but not always honored — life isn’t well lived by the “getting” or the “achieving.” No, life is well lived by the experiencing, the journey. Sometimes that journey is made up of intense activities and learning and working and traveling. And sometimes it’s made up of a quiet summer evening, with the breeze and the comfort of two companions who have chosen to travel through life together.

Tonight, I am thankful for the slowness of this evening, for my partner and lover and heroically robed possum handler. It makes for great stories, tremendous fun and precious memories.

No, let me rephrase that. It makes for one of those moments you treasure and store only to uncap whenever the cold winds roar and you need a reminder of what’s really important.

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