June 16, 2010


Tuesday was one of those days when I felt I accomplished little. I’d risen early to squeeze in three hours of uninterrupted writing before my haircut appointment; but we all know what happens to best laid plans. A visitor dropped by to see how I was doing. We stopped to chat as I don’t see him often. He has a busy life: a wife, three daughters ages eleven through fifteen, and a dog. As sole breadwinner, he works overtime and moonlights on the side to keep food on the table. He has few hours to relax, which explains why for years he’s been struggling to renovate his basement. It probably won’t be finished in my life time.

If I were a writer of biography, I would choose to write about him, if only to prove that the life of an ordinary man is anything but ordinary. It’s full of ups and downs. On Monday, his colleagues sang his praises at work but at home, his eldest daughter was full of rebuke because a scheduled trip had to be canceled for lack of money. My friend felt he’d let his daughter down. I reminded him she was fifteen, a time when parents are bound to be found wanting. It would pass.

By the time he left me, I hoped he felt better, but the hours I’d reserved for writing were gone. My appointment at the beauty shop was pending. I’d planned to walk the distance of about a mile, so I had to leave immediately. As I wandered the streets of my eclectic neighborhood, I noted that bursts of exuberant gardening competed with unkempt lawns and the occasional rusted automobile. I turned my head to avoid the sight of one. That’s when I discovered it: a hydrangea so blue a sapphire would pale beside it. The color was almost iridescent, like reflections upon water.

A young man was kneeling on the lawn beside it, spray painting a canvas. I accused him of coloring his hydrangea but he laughed. He wouldn’t know how to create a color so deep, he said, and I believed him. That hue wasn’t mixed by a human hand.

Walking away, I remembered Wordsworth’s lines from, “I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud.” In it, he describes how he felt when he first set eyes on a field of daffodils: I gazed -and gazed- but little thought/ What wealth the show to me had brought.

By the time I reached my destination, I realized I was smiling. My day wasn’t lost.  I’d been warmed by a visit from a friend and discovered beauty lying at my feet. What more could a writer ask of an ordinary day?