The sky is the color of water at the shallow end of a pool. The hue is perfect for the day, a cool blue to complement a cool morning. The sun is awake and in a pleasant mood, bright and inviting, splashing everything in the backyard with a gentle warmth that balances beautifully with a slight and lilting breeze. Nature has composed a singularly spectacular morning, one without a tether to the season of its birth. It is neither too hot nor too cold, and had I been dropped onto this patio chair from some distant void, I could not say with certainty whether this day belonged to spring or autumn or to the capriciousness of an Indian summer. I could only say that it is surely not winter.
But it is winter, of course. A wet and dreary one, so far. On this day however, this delightful morning adorned with the sounds of a single mocking bird calling from the high branches of an oak and a small flock of doves cooing on the utility line traversing the alley, a reprieve has been granted from the dismal, soggy grayness . Nature is sometimes kind. Today she is truly beneficent. So I drink it in.
The cat is pleased that I’m outside. She acknowledges her happiness by ignoring me with more deference than usual. Her tail casually swings right and left as she surveys the ginger grove along the rear fence line, ever vigilant for her favorite prey, hapless lizards sunning on the stalks. I watch her disappear behind the garage. Shortly she’ll emerge with a tiny, panting reptile in her mouth and I’ll admonish her to let the poor creature go. She’ll settle beneath the patio chair farthest from my reach and play the role of a feline Zeus, alternately tormenting and liberating her little victim until she tires of the game. I’ll sigh with a kind of Darwinian resignation. There are simply too many lizards to save them all.
Luci has opened the back door and raised a few windows, inviting the day inside. I hear her puttering about the kitchen through the open doorway. It’s a pleasant sound. She emerges on the stoop and asks if I hear the sound of children talking and laughing. I do, I say. They’re passing our house on the street. We both listen and smile and Luci goes back inside.
Haruki Murakami’s “The Wind Up Bird Chronicle” sits on the patio table to my left, waiting for me to awaken the bookmark sleeping among its pages. There is no better sort of day than this to read, a day without pressing tasks or obligations, with the sun warming my back and a quiet, meditative flow ebbing through the neighborhood.
A large ant has climbed onto the cover of Murakami’s novel, wending its way in a zig-zag fashion from bottom to top. It stops to notice the title, considers its discovery for a moment, then continues on its journey down the side of the book and off onto the table top. I imagine that if an ant could read, Murakami is precisely the kind of writer that would appeal to it.
A squirrel begins to chatter in the neighbor’s tree in that dreadfully monotonous way that signals their territory is threatened. No doubt the cat is deliberately sunning at the base of the tree housing their nest.
The morning has given way to noon while I’ve sat here daydreaming and bathing in the fragrance of a temporary timelessness. A yellow butterfly glides by my chair and lands on the lantana nearby. The sun has now shifted across the sky and shadows dapple parts of the yard that were earlier in sunlight. I think a glass of cabernet would be a nice accompaniment to my book. Soon I’ll find my way to the kitchen and pour myself a glass and give Luci a quick kiss and rearrange my chair so that the sun is once again at my back. For now, though, I sit and breathe and simply enjoy the day.
The cat appears from nowhere and jumps onto the chair to my left, the one closest to me. She settles into the cushion and begins to nap. I think of doing the same.