As a writer and book reviewer, I spend a great deal of time reading. During daylight hours, I do my reading on the deck. Trees stretching overhead provide plenty of shade, but just enough sunshine splashes through the leaves to assure scattered spots of light. It is peaceful and welcoming.
But it is not quiet. The squirrels rustle through the leaves and chatter. Birds chirp and chatter and squawk. And at certain times of the day and night, insect sounds dominate. What I take to be crickets raise a ruckus that from moment to moment grows and diminishes in volume.
To my surprise, butterflies are plentiful all through the woods and over the pond. They flutter to and fro over the whole scene at some times and disappear at others. Yesterday, when I ate lunch on the deck, a large black butterfly joined me. He flew and settled here and there, apparently unconcerned about my presence. He even lit on the newspaper I was reading. He showed no interest in my food but seemed to be exploring. He was there from the moment I sat down and was still flitting about when I went back inside. I haven’t seen him since.
At night, the deck is transformed into a world of mystery. When the moon is out, it bathes the pond with its blue light. When there is no moon, total darkness is relieved only by occasional lights from distant houses. Sometimes, frogs croak.
So I have found a place of peace and goodwill to read, reflect, meditate, and create. It is a place of solitude. Although I can see a paved walk and a park bench a couple of hundred feet across the water from me, I rarely see any people. It is as though I’m alone in the wild.
I need that peace. My soul is still troubled by memories of combat from Vietnam and the men killed by my side. That’s a wound to the psyche that will be with me always. I need times and places to calm me and restore my balance. My deck gives me that. And it offers a writer’s seclusion and the peace and harmony found only in nature. I am the most fortunate of men.