Stunned to find a typo in a Donald Hall piece in the New Yorker, I was also stunned to imagine myself really old. “Out The Window,” a personal history of the former poet laureate’s winter at age 83, reminds me of a pseudo-pact my Mount Desert Island, Maine, women friends made years ago.
When we get really old, “let’s buy a big house overlooking the ocean that has a spacious veranda (we said porch, but I like “veranda” better),” we said to each other, laughing. This conversation may have taken place over a few glasses of wine at the Claremont boat house on a summer’s evening.
If we’re left without spouses or partners, it’s the way to go. We’d each have our own room and our own favorite rocking chairs on the porch to spend hours looking out at the ocean. Mostly, we would be quiet. And maybe Kate would say, “Remember that brick-colored corduroy jumper three or four of us borrowed during our pregnancies?”
“Ayuh,” one of us would say, nodding. Again, silence.
“When I lament and darken over my diminishments, I accomplish nothing,” writes Hall, a fellow New Englander. “It’s better to sit at the window all day, pleased to watch birds, barns, and flowers.”
Watching the ocean, with all its movement and changes, would be more stimulating for me. I’m not a poet. I’ve always liked to watch ideas playing out on my mind’s movie screen.
Maybe I’ll just quietly appreciate how soothing the sea can be. Nowadays, when I visit with my children I gaze at their beautiful faces. I wonder — imagining the old Donald Hall sitting by his New Hampshire window — will seeing become more meaningful than blurting as I grow older, too?
Loved it, Sheila! I, too, remember that conversation and it seems, more and more, like a REALLY GOOD IDEA! Sharon
I clearly recall the very conversation, Sheila, and thought about it a few days ago when I read the article. Ken and I talked about it as we watched our chickadees at the window feeder and had our morning coffee. Full of wonder, and loving the sound of the natural world…
Thanks for your comment, Marilee. Maybe we’ll have to let some good men hang out with us too. They’ll probably be even quieter than us.
I knew you would.
We’ve read the article, enjoyed it, and now will re-read, looking for the typo. I’m in for the house on the water. Just heard yesterday that the real estate market here is half in value from four years ago — good time to buy!
Start of the 4th graph on pg. 41, space in “fam ily’s.” Thanks for your comment, and Happy New Year!
The memories of cinnamon rose tea and rust cordorody jumpers-as grandmother me watches Beau’s generation smiling, looking back with more memories of myself- yes, I am ready to imagine nabbing a spot on that porch with you all.
I am grateful.
Thanks for your lovely comment Kate! Yes, I remember coming to your home for cinnamon rose tea for the very first time. Marilee had told me I should talk with you to start a women’s group.You were very pregnant with Emily in that rust corduroy jumper. I’ll always be grateful for my dear women friends/family on Mount Desert Island!
I absolutely loved that piece in the New Yorker. I hope my mind can string words together in half as eloquent a way when I’m in my 80s. I didn’t see the typo either, but now I’ll have to go look! Always amazed to find typos in the New Yorker.
My sister and I had a similar pact that you made with your friends. I’ll have to remind her of that 😉
Nice to have a sister! My dear women friends are my sisters.
Pingback: A rare sighting. Does anyone even care nowadays? « It’s Mike Ettner’s Blog