Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Along a November Trail

Imagine living a life in which no one else has to be interested.

I am enjoying Piano Lessons by NPR commentator Noah Adams. A friend in his forties who has recently begun to take piano lessons mentioned the book to me. The copy that I borrowed from a nearby public library has been well handled, well used since the appearance on the shelves of this 1997 first edition. I live in a Public Radio kind of town.

You write a certain way if you are an NPR commentator. Your livelihood depends on living a life in which people are interested – or at least writing about it as though they should be. My friend learning the piano admits to being sad approaching the end of this narrative of a year in the life of an adult learner like himself.

This past weekend I accompanied my oldest brother, his wife, his grown daughter and his two-year-old grandson on a morning walk through a nature preserve on Cape Cod. The path we followed was quiet that early on a Saturday, but it was not empty. The wind was up, and we kept up our pace. When we had completed the trail and returned to the visitors' center, we seemed to separate fairly quickly and settle before different exhibits and into various interactive spaces.

In our walk I had been explaining to my brother some of the dynamics of writing a blog like Writing Cabin. I mentioned to him the variety of readers – a woman from France whose English class had once translated a posting about our mother's grandfather clock, twin brothers who had been classmates of mine in a New Orleans high school. When I took a picture of red berries on one bush along the trail and another picture of blue berries on a juniper tree, I did not inform my brother that the images would likely appear in a posting I would soon write for Writing Cabin.

Sturdy and hale, my brother is barely a month into his seventies. I watched him seated in the visitors' center after our walk. He had taken one of the chairs that was set up for observing the birds and squirrels in a protected area beyond a large picture window. He was very still. I don't recall ever having seen him that still before or for that long.

Ordinarily at the side of his grandson on these outings, pointing things out, naming and explaining and describing, my brother looked briefly like someone who had a morning hour that only he could live, a life that only he could explore. It was as though he were testing out what it might be like to have a morning in which no one else needed to be interested.

Bloggers – as well as NPR commentators – love to write about moments like that.

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