Thursday, September 5, 2013

Paradise Found

This job, working at a museum nobody comes to, has been one of the most teaching summers of my life.  Alone with my thoughts day after day.  I walk the same worn paths, breathing deeply, thinking and seeing things I forgot about all those years I was busy wondering if these jeans made my butt look big, and who would say nasty things about me if I thought for myself, and what, exactly, proved you were a success.  The rhythms and routines of opening and closing and locking and checking have wiped out the need to be who I'm "supposed to be" and opened up the idea that I AM who I am.  I find that time doesn't seem to exist, yet I think I've learned to understand the passing of time better through little things that would have escaped my notice before.  Each day, as the weather shifts, ancient wooden doors shrink or swell, creaky floorboards warp and straighten, patterns I have now subconsciously learned to predict.  Following the same trail around the grounds so many mornings, I have accidentally begun to notice the subtle changes in a wayward flower that learns over the narrow lane between garden rows.  I've watched the bud swell, bloom, tip toward the sun, flinging itself open in full summer ecstacy and then wither away over the course of several weeks.  Would I have noticed a stray blossom every single day otherwise?  Would not a flower elsewhere been plucked or disturbed?  I've seen the raspberries grow to bursting with sweet, warm juice and I knew the day they'd be perfect, the way one knows their own children.  The fat, grey spider living beneath the eves of the ice house has spun and repaired her intricate web a dozen times, each new weaving a bit different from the last, and now she huddles up high on these cool mornings, her egg sac close by.  Without meaning to, I began measuring the water in the brook by the amount trickling though the millstone and could gauge it from a distance by the low gurgle heard from the porch.  Away from the stress and worries of real life, these things matter more.  Maybe it's time that "real life" took a backseat.  The clock in the hall ticks slowly, it's tarnished pendulum swinging back and forth deliberately, it's tick is always a bit lower than the tock.  When here, my boys are content to lay on their backs in the grass and stare at the sky, or sail boats in the stream.  Magic lurks in simplicity.  By narrowing down our options, this place highlights what we usually miss.  An elderly couple taking a tour paid me my favorite compliment.  The gentleman said: "I can't imagine you anywhere else." and his wife agreed that I belonged to this era and said that the whole day made her feel peaceful.  If I can somehow help people get a glimpse into the past where you forget, just for the briefest second, where you are and escape to a bygone era, where concerns disappear and you suddenly find yourself  inhaling the faint traces of one hundred year old smoke and polished wood, catching whispers that linger from long ago, or standing in afternoon sun, contemplating the delicate veins in a backlit hollyhock and feeling blessed, then I will be very, very glad.    

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