One forgets gentleness in the city. And you don’t realize it because there’s nothing to compare it to. The city’s hustle and flow, the glass windows of banks and cafes, the wait for lights at street level and trains in tunnels; this environment isn’t hostile unless you want it to be but it would be hard to argue for gentleness on Broadway and 4th St., say, or K. Street and Massachusetts Ave.
Now, my new home at the Kennedy Warren overlooks the Klingle Valley (I’ve probably mentioned this too many times but if you saw it you would see why I do) and this affords an exceptional opportunity to be in nature in an urban environment. I chose well, finally, this year.
I’m writing this outside, inside a tall pine forest. Right now, a forest! and I promise not to look at a computer screen for long; I know better than that. But it was lunchtime, so Claus and I drove far, far up a mountain over Lake Tahoe and found a shaded spot in the trees. We ate a lunch of muesli with fruit and yogurt, apples and Nutella* and we were so hungry it was therefore the best meal I’ve ever had, of course.
(Oh, please, please forgive me for being obnoxious, but I have never had the occasion to use the French term en plein air and this is my chance. We ate en plein air!)
We finished and now we’re just sitting here, breathing, noticing how the wind through the trees sounds just like ocean tide. When we close our eyes we are amazed; if you only heard a recording of this sound, you couldn’t possibly tell the difference between wind in trees and oceans.
I wear a Fair Isle sweater over my romper. My feet are up on the crate that contains our dinner tonight. Silence. Green. Blue. Mountains with snow and a big, fat, sapphire glittering thousands of feet below it. Gentleness is a word that works, but “tender” might even do.
I grew up on a farm, seven miles out of a town of 5,000 people.
You could argue that nature is in my blood, that this tender moment should awaken a yen in me to abandon city life and get back to the garden. Nah. I’m a city dweller; I’ve spent more years in tall buildings than in treehouses. This trip is a pause and an important one, just as a country mouse should visit some metropolis from time to time for a pause of a different kind, look up at homes in the sky, down at miles and miles of sidewalk, women in smart shoes clipping along to meet for dinner at the best French place.
This was the right idea. Anxiety about email checking dogs me, but trees are so much bigger, so much stronger than emails.
*I mentioned Claus is German, right?