“One day, you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do them NOW!”
– Paulo Coelho
I had decided that one of the many things I wanted to do was to lay under a tree with a good view, and read a novel. It seemed as busy as life was, this might just have to stay a hope rather than becoming reality. Thankfully, life has a way of presenting things to us as if it knows what is meant to be. A new friend had recommended a book not knowing what was on my list of things to do in this lifetime. So, I had good weather, and a good recommendation for a novel to read, a soft blanket to be laid on, plans to stop and pick up a simple pleasure of the Starbuck’s kind, a sweet treat as well, and the road was waiting for me to find my way to the perfect place to let my mind wander and my body rest.
My bag was packed, Siri was set, and off we went. First stop was to grab my coffee, as I so needed to have my senses awakened to let my mind drift away into someone else’s story. Coffee in hand, Siri was in charge of leading me to the Bower’s Mansion Park which sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The drive was about 15 minutes, just enough time for my mind to drift away and try to remember the last time I made time to read a novel. I usually read many non-fiction books where I try to soak up as much concrete information as possible, whether it be new diseases, philosophical viewpoints, poetry, or biographies… but a novel… a story that was created by the mind in order for one to read for pure enjoyment, that is a rarity in my life…. It is a gift.
I arrived at the park at the base of the hills and there in front of me was the greenest, thickest grass and several trees to choose from. There was an outdoor wedding reception that was just starting to take place with little ones running around and adults playing a game of horseshoes and whiffle ball. The bride in her white dress was mingling with guests and an obvious sense of joy was abounding. The playground was full of tiny tots testing their skills on the swings and perhaps even making new friends.
I found the perfect place to spread my blanket under some old white birch trees. Their trunks streaked with white gave their identity away. The sound of the breeze through their leaves was melodic and as I sat down and removed my sandals I took in the view and wondered why I hadn’t done this before? Something so simple, so peaceful, so restful, so….. I felt as if maybe I knew this was needed, but always felt compelled to do one more thing, one more task, one more chore, one more excuse not to. Then I started thinking, “what other simple things have I resisted for so long?” And the thoughts began to flood my mind as if a tsunami had arrived. I sighed deeply and decided I needed to take more time to do these simple things, for who knows what tomorrow will bring.
As I gazed ahead at the view across the valley, it was apparent a change was about to occur. A literal and figurative change was on the horizon. The sky appeared to have several shades of grey and the breeze had now changed direction. I knew exactly what this view meant, as I had only seen it back home in the Midwest a couple thousand times… a major storm was brewing. I knew my time indulging in a novel would be limited but it just meant I needed to get started!
The book I chose was a recommendation by a new friend I had made some states away, “The Keepers Son” by Homer Hickam. This friend of mine knew that the OBX (Outer Banks) was a place I had visited and enjoyed so very much. I still wondered why else he recommended the book, but it didn’t matter at that moment, I was about to slip away into what I hoped to become a compelling read. As I began to read the first couple pages, the character of Dosie began as such,
“She saw herself, in terms of beauty, as needing more work than was possible. She was, to her thinking neither tall nor short, her figure routine, and her face, though blessed with unblemished skin, uninspiring. Her brunette hair, which she considered her best feature, was silky but only because she brushed it religiously, and it lapped down to rest lightly on her shoulders. Often, when she held her head in a certain way, a lock of her hair drifted across her cheek and it gave her, though she had no conceit of it, a look of such vulnerability that men felt driven to protect her even as they longed to ravage her. Dosie had a clever mind, interrogative and incisive by nature, careful by design, but it was incapable of seeing herself as others did. That was a blank spot. She took no notice for instance of the ferry master, who had difficulty taking his eyes from her during the 3 hour journey.” –The Keepers Son
I stopped right there…. Took a deep breath and felt a kinship with Dosie. We seemed to have some things in common, though I hesitated to admit that. At that moment, I could hear the guests of the wedding party talking about the storm and all eyes were on the sky. I looked up and the storm had moved closer and lightning was now visible.
A squirrel was playing hide-and-go seek from me, wondering if I had any treat to give him. I sat wanting to return to my novel as this story’s lead character sounded very familiar indeed… and so I did. I sat, I laid, and I held my iPhone tight in my hands as my kindle reader fed me the pages that I could not devour quickly enough.
It wasn’t long before the temperature had dropped, the storm was now ever closer and the people in the park made noticeable movements to end their day early in a plan to return to their cars and get home safely. I sat for just one more minute taking pictures of the sky and noticing the scent of rain in the distance. My light sweater could not prevent some goose bumps from forming due to the cold breeze that seemed to be more constant now. You could see movement in the clouds and the dust and leaves became airborne with a short yet strong gust of wind. I felt as if this were apropos, perhaps a reminder that days like this, ones that allowed for time to be spent doing something or nothing at all need to be more frequent, more deserved in my busy life. Perhaps that was the unintended reason a friend several states away having recommended I read this book, perhaps there was no coincidence that the main character captivated me so, perhaps the storm’s arrival was just a reminder that time is needed to feed the mind and soul and just be… even while taking refuge under a group of white birch trees on some plush grass reading and watching a storm approach…
Today, I gave myself permission to take some time to do one thing that led to another and ultimately I nourished my mind and my soul… if not by the recommendation of a good friend, I never would have met “Dosie” and fallen in love with what turned out to be a great read… Wondering what tomorrow will bring…