Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

It’s All Ephemeral

This is gone already, of course. There was a frost last night, and these oak leaves are dry and brown, and will clack and scrape against one another in the winter winds until they’re evicted in the spring by their green replacements. The sound they make — when you step outside in the evening’s darkness to the woodpile, and pause for a moment to feel the cold bracing air in your chest, the stars pinwheeling bright in the winter night sky — is the sound of the unburied dead.
Can you get to a place like this? It’s in my back yard. It goes forever, because we can’t go where it goes. But you can stand on the edge of it, and reflect for a minute on the year that is slipping down the rabbit hole. You can slip on an actual rabbit hole, too, if you’re not careful. The massive cinnamon ferns have shriveled to wizened stalks, the mosquitoes are murdered in their millions by the frost, and you can stand there for a quiet moment now and wonder what might be looking back at you. An osprey will cruise overhead almost every day, and emit that marvelous shriek that means wild to anybody that hears it.
It’s all ephemeral. Work all day, not knowing what the weather is outside. There’s a few minutes to walk to the edge of the grass, with your toddler’s hand in yours, and look out into the nothing. He always throws twigs into the water. Each one makes him giggle. The perfect joke – it always brings a laugh. This too will pass. We go back and sit at the table, and the meal is that most ephemeral of things; soon lost in the memory hole of too many. But each one is sublime, if considered.

What do they add up to? I don’t know. Why waste every bit of your time with arithmetic? Get it while it’s hot.

4 Responses

  1. That’s a beautiful shot of the dinner table — makes me feel hungry and satisfied at the same time.

    Few joys compare to the simple pleasure of warm food, good fellowship, and a well-laid table.

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