After the boys are asleep, I go back outdoors into the soft night with my notebook, and sit by the fire pit to watch the evening gather.
I'm here. Just here, at the edge of the sloping field where the grass is growing tall. Here, at the edge of the woods at the top of the valley. Here, where the sounds of a hundred different bird calls fill the gloamy twilight: finches, robins, grosbeaks, vireos, warblers, thrushes.
And then I hear a pair of geese, circling and calling as they do, and soon others find them, and they land, one after the next with a heavy-bodied splash in pond at the edge of the field below us. Their alto honking punctuates the dwindling sentence of day, and theirs is a message that I understand: to be right here. To let the air be everything, the softness be everything. The final calling of the robin and the first flight of the bat:everything.
Now there are crows with sooty backs and beaks and breasts, perching on the quince tree, and in the distance, the sound of traffic. Nearer, through the open windows of the house, the dryer clatters, tossing a load of delicates round and round, and above me the sky has been rinsed of blue.
It turns to lavender, then paler still, until it is the exact color of the blossoms on the lilac tree where the wind chimes hang and the birds go to rest after gathering seed from the feeder.
The air is sweet with woodsmoke and it smells like summer.
It smells like childhood, like family, and all the things I ever want to remember about traveling in a camper with my parents and sister: the Grand Canyon, Half Moon Bay, Point Reyes, Death Valley, Bodega, Four Corners, Pikes Peak, The Great Divide.
We'd light campfires in the evenings, and do the very thing my boys did after roasting marshmallows tonight: burn the ends of long sticks in the licking flames, and then hold them aloft, smoke spiraling upwards into the gathering night.
The songbirds slowly settle among twigs and newly furling leaves in the woods, and the sky blushes with a final rose. Above me there are contrails, golden still, then fading to white, marking the path of silver-bellied planes, carrying people wherever it is they want to go above me.
And while they cross time zones and topographies, I am here.The peepers in the vernal pools beginning there tremolo chorus as night draws close, and this is all of my life, again and again.
We are no more and no less than the sum of the moments that make up our present tense. And this now, and the now after this will be marked by a gathering of clouds, and the last surprising flight of a dozen red-winged blackbirds overhead.
I've started writing again.
Mostly in my Molskine, with scrawling haphazard script. But I'm finding the moments, and feeding them slowly.
To show up, to show up, to show up.
How do you show up?