Saturday, August 22, 2009


I tether my bike at the street sign behind Tosi's, and wipe the wind-tears from my face. It occurs to me, as I'm walking away, that I have been locking my bike to it four or five times a week, all summer, and I have no idea what the sign says. I turn to look, but it's faced away from me. I still don't know what it says.

One more day in Portland, to get things finished at work and put the house in order. The kids, maybe, will go on ahead of us.

I'm looking forward to being at the beach, but I will be glad when this vacation is over. I have nearly, but not quite, made my peace with summer. It still is a deep interruption in the flow of life, an exasperating time of absences and makeshifts. All holidays irritate me. I've built a daily life that makes me happy and productive, and I don't like it to be impinged upon. I am a boring person, I'm sure, but I find my delight in a typical working Wednesday. I've put considerable effort into making my days a lovely mix of different kinds of work, people who delight me, changes of wonderful place. The morning writing or studying over breakfast and coffee, the afternoon coaxing the data elephants to dance at the Foundation (broken by a long reading lunch in the endlessly entertaining phantasmagoria of downtown Portland), the evening doing massage. Each transition marked by a bicycle ride, up hill and down hill through tree-lined streets rich with gardens. My life is perfect: why would I welcome interruptions?

After a white morning, blue fields are appearing in the sky behind the doug firs. The day will be hot, eventually. But not yet.

I cradle my death in both hands, lay myself out in my roomy coffin. Glad did I live and gladly die. I feel, as Stevenson did, that to hold your death at arms-length, and spend much time fending it off, is to hold your life at arms-length. It is, sure, an irritating interruption. But to see the sea again, the thrash of the waves on black basalt! It's good, after all, that someone with more sense than us forces us to take a vacation from time to time.

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