When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,
And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,
“He was a man who used to notice such things”?
-Thomas Hardy (1917)
The years have flown by, and Shannon is now a college graduate! We’ve had to alter our basic response that she “goes to Bard”; now we have to say she “has graduated from Bard”. It’s caused quite a shift in our thinking in many respects, because now we are old enough to have an adult child. How did that happen?
The trip up to New York was bittersweet, in that it may be our last one for many years. I tried to savor each and every sight, smell and sound as we went about the usual trips to and fro from the horse farm to the campus to town to Shannon’s house. It was high spring, and New York was in glorious form!
This time, we had the two grandmothers with us (it was their first visit). After all the years of regaling them with our tales of Whistlewood, Rhinebeck, Bard, Olana, the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, it was time to show them how very special this part of the world is. And so it was with fresh eyes that I looked at my surroundings last weekend, pointing out all of my favorite spots to them.
My eager eyes savored the gorgeous flowers, green trees, different birds, running brooks and warm sunshine. What caught their eyes was interesting to me, and made me look anew at what I had looked at once before but then have overlooked as the years went by.
Graveyards, doorways, bridges, running streams, wild creatures and the quaint town centers were some of the things the grandmothers loved to look at. Of course they loved the spring flowers and mountain views, as well, and especially the cool, sunny weather. I was proud to show them everything, as if I had had something to do with it!
As the days passed, I began to really study every nook and cranny, because as I mentioned, I fear it may be the last time I’ll ever see this magical spot again. I know I CAN go back, but will I? As we visited our favorite restaurants, I hugged my favorite proprietors and spoke to my favorite waiters, thanking them for taking such good care of us through the years. It was such a happy weekend, but it was definitely tinged with some sadness.
When we crossed the majestic Hudson River, heading west and then north to Albany that last time, all I could think about was how beautiful the river and the Catskills were. Do those who live there and make that crossing daily ever notice?
It made me think about being more aware of my own every day surroundings, just to better appreciate the beauty in my own neighborhood. If I learned I had but one day to live here, I certainly would go outside and watch the trees swaying in the breeze and the cloud formations in the blue sky. I’d study the flowers and listen to the birds.
So why not do it every day with fresh eyes? Pretend it’s the last day you’ll ever be in your house, and really notice the details. You may be surprised at what you see, and you will definitely appreciate the gifts that lay right outside your door.