I love peonies so much that sometimes I forget about the enormous pleasures conferred by midsummer flowers. But my house is currently bursting with them, and the ombré of yellow, orange, and red snapdragons inject much-needed glamour into the all-work-no-play pallor of my recent days. I’d bemoan my Summer of Reckoning more but I recognize that it was a long time coming, that my predilection for the Present morphed at some point into Dissociation Nation, and that, as a lady who lunches on her own dime, it now falls upon me to catch up financially with my adult self. Still, I’ll never deny life’s small pleasures: the graceful droop of a bouquet of cosmos on my desk, the chirp of my new bird clock, with which the proprietor of The Magic Chair gifted me.
At his yard sale, the clock’s charms—a different bird representing each hour with a delightful corresponding chirp—were obfuscated by a hideous green frame. But my recent foray into home improvement taught me that anything can be transformed, and so I repainted it a sky blue that brought all those larks and cardinals and thrushes into high relief. Now the clock presides over my office, and as I write—surrounded by blossoms and birds who cheer my efforts—I feel I’m preserving my inner wilderness even as I soldier into more civilized terrain. It’s a terrain, I am learning, that I only begin to glimpse when I inch, step by step, and, yes, bird by Anne Lamott bird, into its ever-excruciating, ever-expanding unknown.