Saturday, July 5, 2014

Happy Days at Hollins

I like to collect "perfect days" - days that are complete and wonderful, often in a quiet, ordinary way, sweet, beautiful days, unremarkable days that nonetheless deserve to be remarked upon.

I'm having quite a few perfect days in my Hollins summer. Here are two.

Thursday, my formal teaching duties for the week had been satisfyingly discharged: my students' chapter-books-in-progress are looking so good! So four days "just for me" stretched ahead. I started the day, as I start every day here, taking a long walk (from 6:15 to 8 a.m.) with two of my fellow faculty, Elizabeth Dulemba and Candice Ransom. They are both so much better than I am at noticing nature: muskrats and heron in Tinker Creek (yes, Annie Dillard's Tinker Creek), a cardinal perched in scarlet splendor on top of a street sign. Elizabeth stops to say hello to the horses pastured along the way, greeting each one by name. "Good morning, Oyster!" They nuzzle against her petting hand.

Back "home" in my little apartment, I wrote for a good hour on my chapter book-in-progress, the fourth title in my Franklin School Friends series, this time a spelling bee story starring know-it-all Simon. I'm at the point in the writing where I have that delicious momentum that makes it feel as if the story is writing itself.

At 10:00 my dear friend Rachel came to collect me. Up first: picking up a few things she needed at Target! I do love tagging along on other people's errands. I've loved it all my life, since I spent much of my high school years going with my dear friend Betsy to pick up dry cleaning, get her shoes resoled, and visit her Aunt Peggy. There is something so relaxing about living someone else's life for a little bit. Then we drove up Mill Mountain and saw the world's largest steel star (so they say; I'm always a bit skeptical about such claims - has EVERY single star in the ENTIRE WORLD really been measured and compared?). As storm clouds gathered, we went to the Grandin neighborhood, near Rachel's house, and got completely and thoroughly soaked to the skin as we dashed into Cups, the perfect cafe for writing. Rachel actually got more soaked than I did, so much so that we had to call her husband, John, for dry clothes.

Note that this does nothing to compromise the perfection of the day.

At Cups we both had "steamers," my new favorite thing: warm milk flavored and sweetened with Italian soda syrup. Rachel had a pumpkin pie steamer; mine was a mixture of chocolate and cherry, like drinking foamy chocolate-covered cherries. Dry and warm now, we stopped into Too Many Books (can there be such a thing?), where I bought myself a used copy of Lucy Maud Montgomery's journals, volume 1. Then we saw a movie, the lush and romantic period-drama-with-a-social conscience, Belle, at the historic Grandin theater. Cobb salads at a local eatery converted from an old ice house completed our outing.

A perfect day.

Yesterday was as perfect, if quieter. Another early walk, on a cool, crisp, and exhilarating morning, the world scrubbed clean from the previous day's downpour. I wrote in my little apartment all morning: chapter 8 of Simon's book. Then I wandered over to campus mid-day to meet with two students to talk about their chapter books, chatting with one in the gorgeous Hollins library, and the other in the cozy lounge on the third floor of Swanannoah Hall, which I had just discovered. After that, I sat on a rocking chair on the verandah of a Georgian-style building on the quiet Hollins quad and scribbled my way through Simon, chapter 9. In the evening: 4th of July barbecue at our director Amanda's fabulously whimsical Victorian home with backyard fireworks (legal here, unlike Colorado).

Another perfect day.

Today so far I've had my walk.  My colleague/neighbor Ashley and her dog, Tula, met us along the way. Shortly I'm heading to another colleague/neighbor's Birthday Bubble Brunch for her two super-bright, super-cute daughters. Then more writing: Simon, chapter 10. Should I write here at home? Or at the library (where BLANKETS are provided for extra coziness?). Or on the verandah again? At 3:00, I'm heading out for ice cream with a student who has a car and offered to take me. Planned topic of conversation: writing!

I have a feeling I'm heading for three perfect days in a row.


  1. I love perfect days like those. I just had a couple such days too...sharing time between family, friends and writing.Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks, Angela. I think it's so important to NOTICE these perfect days, to say, "This day was perfect." I hate the thought of all the perfect days I might not have adequately celebrated. Here's to perfect days for both of us.