We recently had a day so lovely it took my breath away when I opened my eyes to it at dawn. The stand of trees across the street made me think God had taken up needlework, so bright were their colors. They looked like crewelwork where the thread is thick and the patches of color really sit down and stay a while.
“Let me be a kid child again in endless days!” was all I could think throwing back the covers and hurrying to the bedroom window. “Oh, Time let me play and be golden in the mercy of your means! ” was all I could think, recalling that wonderful line from “Fern Hill” by Dylan Thomas.
But I didn’t do that. I didn’t play and be golden on that matchless day, because….
I had errands.
Errands: the curse of all adults at the stage of life some call Maintenance of the World.
I sometimes ask myself what I used to do with all the hours I now spend bringing stuff to the cleaners. I try to wash by hand to save the trip but it doesn’t always work. I wore a brand-new shirt Thursday that said to Machine-Wash- Cold-Delicate-Cycle-Line-Dry and I heeded all those instructions except maybe the delicate cycle part and alas, when I drew it from the fragrant tangle of its freshly shampooed brethren it was half its former size, darn it all. My dog would look good in it if I had a dog.
So there was the dry-cleaning – and I did bring things to the dry cleaners, including my winter coat which turned out to have a nice piece of dark chocolate still in the right-hand pocket.
Then there’ was refueling the car with ever-more-costly gas. I did that.
Then I drove to my son’s new apartment and took the base of his great-grandmother’s old dining room table off the back porch where he’d left it for me. In some lapse of sanity the day before I had decided I would refinish it for him over the weekend.
It’s a little jaunt over to his place and back but it was early still when I got done and the light still billowed and bounced. The light felt to me like this big soap bubble that had alighted here on earth and somehow taken us inside it. A great iridescent bubble, like this.
But I wasn’t really inside the bubble because really I was inside my car.
Then inside the food store.
Then the bank.
Then another food store.
I wanted to go to the cemetery where lie some people dear to me. That would be the one time of the day when I did get outside in the air for more than ten minutes.
The sun was lowering in the sky by then. It was after 5:00.
A funeral bouquet on a grave looked like more needlework , Natures’ work aided by man’s.
I got down on the grass; lay right down next to the grave that is freshest for me and looked up.
If the one who lay beneath me could still talk and if he could see me wasting a bright bubble of a day like this one, I know he would have some tart advice for me about slowing down and looking up more.
I looked up just as the light was failing and saw this, a view that managed to make up for all that day’s wasted opportunities.
And now if you have the time, the Welsh poet’s c as read by Anthony Hopkins: