Monday, August 6, 2012
A Moveable View
But now I sit on this porch, just yards from the water's edge. A vast harbor is stretched out in front of me. The surface ripples of the cerulean water are like a silk scarf fluttering in the wind. Lobster buoys bob up and down. Now and then a fishing boat goes by. A family of swans travels back and forth along the shore in perfect peloton formation.
It is peaceful and almost improbably beautiful. And as I try to work, I find that it drives me nuts - the unchangeability of it. I am not used to looking at scenery so... passively. My eyes focus on the right outer edge of the harbor, where the rocky shore curves and disappears from view. As I study it, the curve begins to look hard-etched and forbidding, willfully preventing me from seeing beyond the bend.
In fact, I know - roughly at least - what lies around the bend; I have been there many times. A hilly back road winds along the shore's edge sleepily. There is a small patch of dense woods along the cliffs, then a gravel garden path, a wild rocky beach, an abandoned coast guard's tower... Soon I am visualising each of these landmarks in great detail, picturing them as they look when I cycle past them. I laugh at myself, realising that I am enjoying this mental game more than looking at the view in front of me.
I close my laptop, get on my bike and take off just as the sun begins to set, heading for the hilly back road that will take me around the bend. No one else is here. The road narrows and steepens dramatically and I get into my lowest gear. With each pedal stroke I see more and more of the landscape that was hidden from view as I sat on the porch just minutes earlier, and this fills me with an absurd sense of fulfillment. I reach the top easily, unhurriedly, and there sits the patch of woods with its narrow mossy path to the edge of the cliff. I keep going, coasting down the steep hill now at what feels like flying speed, passing all the landmarks I'd recalled. The mysterious garden path, the wild beach. And I remember now also the old sprawling house with a beautiful garden and the "bunnies for sale" sign taped to the green fence. After the coastguard's house I stop and turn around, my urge to experience a movable view satisfied. It seems silly now to have taken this short ride for no reason at all, but I am pleased.
I roll up to the porch as the last of daylight disappears. The vast harbor is still there, its fluttering silk surface now a deep indigo. A green light flickers in the distance. A stray boat is being rowed ashore. The swan peloton is making its last round. I get my coffee cup and turn on the porch light, ready to settle down in the stillness. But I know the moveable view will call out to me again tomorrow, even though I know what's around the bend.