August 27: “I don’t know, Mom. How come you didn’t tell me that one of the greatest paintings of the 19th century is right here?” Standing in a gallery of the Phillips Collection, Jeremiah pointed to Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. I replied, “Well, look at it this way: when I was five, I adored the Beatles; by the time I was eight, I put such childhood nonsense behind me. Maybe I saved the news for exactly the right moment?”
August 28: I grew my tree and it toppled, first to the right and then to the left. I touched the wall to plant another tree and fell again. Where is my drishti, my focal point? Where is my strong standing leg? Where is my core? My yoga teacher was watching: “The most advanced expression of any balance pose is finding your smile.”
August 29: Despite the overcast skies, I wore my sunglasses on my morning walk, and everything was slightly magical. The deep green softened, the crickets hummed gently and I kept hearing joyful children’s voices without finding their source. Creek-side driftwood for a moment looked like a dinosaur bone, and dense woods leading to a rocky crest forbade entry. I even saw a house number written entirely in script, as though requiring an incantation before entering.
August 30: Today, my neighbor Jennifer and I bypassed our usual topics and leapt right to the heart of what seemed to matter most at the moment: our childhood toys. Although neither of us favored our dolls, they entertained us today. We both had dolls that “took a bottle” and then most inconveniently wet their clothes a few minutes later. My doll had “fancy pants” — rows of red ruffles over white satin. Jennifer’s doll had a head of real hair, perfect for brushing or stroking. Or just snipping to an inch of its life, as young Jennifer decided to do. Thank goodness for ruffled bonnets and very kind mothers.
August 31: Today I listened to a podcast featuring one of my Mom’s favorite mystery authors, Lisa Scottoline, whose lawyer heroine usually dashes about in high heels while her loving Italian immigrant parents cheer her on. In a brief turn from the laughter, Scottoline summoned an image of Nicole Kidman walking through a drafty haunted house, her hand cupped around a flickering light. Speaking right to me and perhaps to you, Scottoline said, “Whatever you do, you’ve got to protect your candle.
September 1: Retirement means, among other things, getting things done. So I tackled a lingering EZ Pass issue and failed again and again. I called customer service and encountered a crisp young woman giving directions that I just couldn’t understand. “I could use a bit more patience,” I pleaded. She replied, “I AM being patient.” I thanked her and called right back. This time, I reached a woman who must have been exactly my age; we laughed about teen movies and romantic comedies from the 1980s and 90s. We laughed about computer interfaces. And she fixed EZ Pass problems for me that I didn’t even know I had. We were on a first-name basis by the time I hung up. Thank you, Monica, for your skill and kindness.
September 2: Back at Assateague, I left the beach on the threshold of evening and thought about enticing Kevin to return to see the sunset over Sinepuxent Bay. We’d follow a boardwalk over the marsh to the very edge and just gaze westward. Apparently, this was a very good idea, for as I crossed the bridge toward home I saw seven horses, standing exactly where the marsh meets the bay, gazing westward and awaiting the show.
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