The day began with an early morning walk on a trail with Mathias, Rat Terrier Extraordinaire. When the sun is still low over the horizon and the forest kept fresh in the morning dew and shade, mosquitoes should remain at bay. Is there not such a thing as “sleeping in” for insects? Apparently not!
Within moments, I felt I had entered unto a movie set and would soon be running out of the forest arms flailing, screaming and drained of every drop of blood. Mathias seemed oblivious. Our darted hosts had clearly set their sights on the only human around, taking the terms “universal donor” to extremes. Ha! But I am stubborn. I picked up a branch with a few leaves at its end and proceeded to wave it back and forth, as an orchestra conductor perhaps. We continued our morning walk in perfect peace.
I am not in favor of putting chemicals on my body to repel insects. I imagined that my momentary insane branch brandishing might some day be turned into a clever hands-free repellent device by someone; an invention that may sell overnight due to its cleverness or remain on the shelf lest one feel utterly ridiculous, even in the absence of witnesses.
I returned home to projects, but the day was still young and Mathias wanted to enjoy the sun, so we sat on the porch for an hour of reading. Guilt shortly built up in the back of my mind, mostly due to self-imposed obligations and time lines. Though I sat comfortably with my legs stretched on a chair and a good coffee to sip, I had not managed to truly stop and enjoy the moment.
After a short while, the neighborhood jeweler, a good friend, decided to take some time away from his own work. I admit that he is far more disciplined than I am these days. His ability to walk away peacefully caught my attention. He sat in front of his shop, in the shade, guitar in hand. He jokingly began with a French song whose refrain says, “Working is too hard and stealing is not nice”. He raised his voice and looked across the street at Mathias and me. We laughed.
Village activities began, gradually. One could hear the birds and voices of people arriving at the nearby restaurant, cheerful, while the guitar accompanied this isolated slice of life. It occurred to me then that if I were to feel guilty at all, I should not do so because I had taken a moment to relax, but rather because I almost did not have the presence of mind to enjoy it and thus let it restore me for the work at hand. Vermont mornings are so refreshing.