The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Being

Mr. K and I live far enough up and away from the city that we often get deer in the yard. Little juvenile delinquents, the former owner called them, because they ate her flowers and her vegetables and pretty much anything else she tried to grow. I, of course, am so charmed by them that they could probably eat the siding right off the house and I wouldn’t object. I love it when they rise up on their haunches to nibble the apples off the tree and am thrilled when they play in the backyard like frisky colts. Which was why I was so delighted when two of them turned up this morning.

It was Mr. K who spotted them first. I hadn’t even seen them because they were so still. They were actually curled up in the back yard, dozing off and on in the meager shelter the trees provide from the relentless rain. There was something so astounding, so vulnerable and fragile and about them curled up peacefully like I never get to see them, and, right there in the back yard. I ran for the camera. I wanted to show you, and I wanted to capture the moment to look at again. But this is what the camera saw, even with telephoto:

The brown blur in the middle is one of the deer. So I sat down at the window and watched them, and I got to thinking: have you ever thought that maybe there are things we’re not meant to view in retrospect, but rather, in the here and the now only? Things that are gifted to us in this moment, this breath of time with the intention that we will stop, watch, experience and then carry only the memory away? I thought I would love a photo but, in truth, I don’t think a photo would have captured the morning I spent gazing out at the rain dappled yard, watching the deer sleeping and waking, their ears swiveling to catch the slightest sounds. There was a frog singing, and a squirrel chattering angrily, and the gentle rhythm of the rain slipping through the leaves. I watched so long that I noticed the way the rain stippled their winter coats, and the way they twitched their noses towards the house every so often. I saw them look at me, seeming to lock eyes with me through the window and, apparently deciding I was okay, return to cropping bits of grass to chew over and over.

I think if I could have taken a decent picture I would have, and then I might have looked a minute more and gone on about my day. But instead, I sat and soaked up the whole thing, trying to put as much of it in my memory as I could. And I can’t help but think that might have been the point.

We live life so fast these days. We carry music with us so we don’t have to take the time to just sit and listen to it, and so we miss the places it might have taken us. We e-mail a friend because it’s quick and we don’t risk getting into a conversation that might become lengthy, so we miss the sound of her voice and the nuances of expression that might tell us how she’s really feeling or what she really needs to say or hear. We drive everywhere so we don’t have to walk and so we see the shifts in the seasons only peripherally and only when they’re at their most dramatic—we see the bright orange autumn foliage, but we miss the first tinge of color creeping into the edges of the leaves, and the first one slipping away to the ground.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Stop and smell the roses (or watch the deer) isn’t a new concept. But it hit me hard today how much stuff I save for later. I’ll listen to it later, I’ll talk to her later, I’ll do that another time. I’m pretty sure I won’t get to trade in all those ignored moments for anything special when I get to the end of my life.

Y’all know our cat Ed, the really beautiful tabby I’ve shown you pictures of? He’s an outdoor cat because he was Mr. K’s and he always kept his kitties outside. But he (Ed, not Mr. K) has been coming in more and more lately, and is very definite about wanting time with me. And not just any time. He likes sitting on my lap, but he often craves being held. You read right—he actually wants me to hold him. At those times he will try to get higher on my body, curl himself up against my chest. If I don’t respond quickly, he’ll start shoving at my hands and arms with his big head—see, I’m supposed to wrap my arms around him so he can nestle his nose into my elbow, and then I’m supposed to pet him with one hand. I’m so often knitting when I sit down that it’s rare I really take more than a minute or two to do that for him before I ease him onto my lap and pick up the knitting--but I did today. I set aside my knitting, and I held Ed. He purred, I petted, and we just were. For a change, I wasn’t doing anything—I was just being.

I wanna do that more. Be enough. Be at peace. Just be. I don’t do enough of it. Too busy trying to become, I guess. But I think we can become and still remember to breathe and watch the deer or listen to the song or hold Ed. I think we need to. Not because something bad will happen if we don’t, but because nothing will happen. It will just slide by like an unopened birthday gift, swept away after the party with the wrappings and the old balloons and never even missed.

It’s taken me some time to type this. Gussie is in my lap and instead of absently petting her when I'm not typing, I’ve been snuggling her each time she “talks” in her funny meezer voice. This definitely slows the process. But she’s purring and I’m enjoying noticing all the little sounds she makes when she’s happy. I’m pretty sure she just said to tell you all “Hi”. And she might have said “don’t forget to tell them to pet their cats.”

9 Comments:

  • At 6:18 PM, Anonymous Marianne said…

    Aye, beautifully thought out, and written. This is a subject deep in my heart. I've thought for many many years the world at large would be a much happier place if folks could and would just.slow.down. Yes, I know we want to pay our bills, we want.our.fibre. but we could all learn to live a bit more simple, do without a 'bunch of the crap' which is what I've been doing for years so I could slow down and enjoy what's at hand more fully.

    That's what Kittyfacesmoochie does, that's how she wants to be held (like Mr. Ed)and so I sit out on the front porch and hold her for as long as she wants to be held...
    Kisses to all over there, and a special murf to Ms. Gussie...

     
  • At 6:22 PM, Blogger Kim said…

    Amen to all of that. That's all I can say.

     
  • At 8:32 PM, Anonymous Jill said…

    I had a moment like that with my cat today. It was absolutely amazing. I actually put down the knitting, and just cuddled. I think we both needed it.

     
  • At 8:47 PM, Blogger Peg said…

    Beautifully said, Ms. K. I did take time for a nice walk today and enjoyed the wind on my face, but must slow down more and just be!

     
  • At 9:44 PM, Anonymous Paula in Iowa said…

    Well and truly spoken. Thank you.

     
  • At 10:54 PM, Blogger Kit Is Knitting said…

    I really needed that right now. Thank you.

     
  • At 6:31 AM, Blogger Faren said…

    Yeah, I need to take the time to do that with my ferrets, specially as they are about as old as they are going to get. I know I will wish I had done that more when they are gone.

     
  • At 8:48 AM, Anonymous Childe said…

    ...Not because something bad will happen if we don’t, but because nothing will happen. ...

    So very, very well said.

    I read your posts v.e.r.y slowly so I can enjoy these lovely little phrases and the lovely ideas behind them.

     
  • At 9:48 AM, Blogger Charity said…

    Lovely deep thoughts, Ms. K. I don't know why we all feel the need to rush. We're our own worst enemies, sometimes, when it comes to expectations.

     

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