Writers need a place to ruminate. Much of our writing time is spent thinking through ideas and the visions our imagination presents to us. Some writers prefer a plain space, devoid of distractions. I like a spot replete with beauty and peace.
I now have such a spot. It’s the deck on the back of my new house where I moved last June. The deck and its view were the major reason I bought the house.
The deck is a story above the ground and overlooks a pond, green with algae and half filled with water reeds. All around it are lush trees of multiple varieties. I know there are houses beyond the trees, but I can’t see them. I know they’re there because I can occasionally hear the residents talking, and I can glimpse lights through the trees at night. By day, most of the time it feels as though I am alone in the wilderness.
My pond is filled with life. I see birds of every kind, from tiny things that would fit easily in my hand, to big ones with a wing span half the length of my body. They are in constant motion and call to one another as long as there is light in the sky. But at night, when I can’t see them, they’re silent.
High up in a tree to the northeast (the right side) of the deck is a raccoon nest. I discovered it one day when a motion near the top of the tree caught my attention. It was two raccoons going up and down the tree. One eventually climbed almost to the top of the tree while the other settled in the nest and proceeded to watch me. He (or she) stayed there for the whole time I was on the deck. I haven’t seen either of them since that day.
From the deck, I’ve seen deer, rabbits, a fox, and what I believe was a possum. But the most common animal is squirrels. They race up and down the tree branches, chattering to one another. And, as I discovered, they’re aggressive.
I take all my meals at a picnic table on the deck, weather permitting. Before dinner, I often allow myself a gimlet and snacks (popcorn, nuts, chips). Until recently, I often left the snack food on the table between meals. Then I noticed that a small candle in a stemmed glass that is always on the table was regularly overturned. The chip bag was open, even though I had closed it earlier. One day, the plastic top to the can of nuts had been chewed open. I looked up into the trees and saw the squirrels watching me. The next day, as I was preparing to go out on the deck, I saw a squirrel on the table trying to get into the nut can. He ran when I opened the deck door. Ever since, I always see to it that no food is left on the table when I’m not there.