I'd get up, wash my face and have a couple of cups of strong, black coffee while reading the paper. If the news was good, the morning would be spent in relative peace; if bad the Hubs would be subjected to a well-reasoned if increasingly desperate rant, followed by sighs, more coffee, and a retreat to the comics pages.
Eventually I would rise, slap on some head phones, tune into NPR or maybe a little jazz, and go out onto the patio to paint. I have an old wooden table, left by the previous owners of the house, set up with newspapers, a bunch of old coffee cans full of various mediums and an easel I bought on sale at a craft store.
Sometimes the painting would go well, and I would lose myself for hours in gooey globs of green and rose and the heady mixture of turpentine and linseed oil. Sometimes it would go poorly, and I would lose myself in problems of perspective and scale, (the same problems, it occurrs, that plague in the real world) . Yet even these less successful days never felt wasted, for time spent playing in paint is, for me, time lived completely in the moment, absorbed and absorbing. Focused. Reaching.
Sometime around 4:00, I’d wind down, clean my brushes, take a shower, grab a glass of wine and wander back outside to sit in the Adirondack chair, contemplate the days work, and maybe write in my journal. Nothing smart, poetic or clever, full of bad grammar and awful punctuation, it was just idle musings, maybe a sketch or idea, something that made me laugh. No one came along to comment ~ imagine the shock if they had (Hi! I was just passing through, saw your journal sitting there and decided to read it ~ very nice! Stop by and read mine sometime! I leave it on my dresser at 4037 Maple.) All was peaceful and unremarkable in Patio Land.
Then I got a computer. Before I knew it, I had neither the time nor the inclination to do anything as labor intensive on weekends as to go outside and play; not when I could stay inside, plop down in a comfy chair and stare, dry-eyed and mesmerized, at the seductive white light of the monitor all day. As for writing in a quaint little, handwritten notebook,well; what's the point, really? I rarely go back and read the things; they just pile up on a shelf, or in a drawer somewhere.
(I imagine them being discovered someday by archaeologists, or detectives working the case of my mysterious disappearance ~ who was this brilliant, beautiful and obviously gifted woman who died all alone in this neglected tenement house, surrounded by old newspapers, coffee cans and cats? they'll wonder. Perhaps the lead detective will fall in love with me, like Dana Andrews fell for Gene Tierney in the movie Laura....) But I digress. Besides, if it isn't happening online in 2005, it isn't happening at all.
So last week I bit the bullet ~ went out, cleaned off the forlorn little table ~ or rather persuaded the gallant and only slightly complaining Hubs to do it for me, and a good thing too ~ I don't want to say its been a while, but there was an honest-to-god snake living amongst the debris. Talk about a bad omen.
The session went poorly but heroically I soldiered on. And as I wrote in my low-tech little notebook, I realized how much I missed this ~ sitting quietly on the patio, hearing the breeze rustling the leaves, the sound of laughter and voices drifting in from neighboring yards, the rumble of a distant train. A moment of serenity in the cool and open air. A crow squawked angry protest at an indifferent universe, and reminded me of... me. I sipped my wine and stared at the (so far very bad) painting and understood how much I needed to do this again. To sit. Listen. Be quiet. Be.