Before We Leave

It always happens. Just as soon as you think you’re ready to leave and go on to the next place, the one you’re in becomes incredibly beautiful. It happened to me this morning.

In a few days, I’ll be leaving this Florida island and going back to Minneapolis. I’ve told everyone I’m ready to go home: the island is too crowded with visitors, I say. I just want to go to my regular grocery store. I miss my Minnesota family and friends.

Then this morning as I sat outside reading the Sunday Times and drinking coffee, I dropped deep into the astounding beauty around me: the gentle air, the birds’ songs, the green of foliage, and the startling blue of sky and water. It all seemed impossible to leave.

The hibiscus and bougainvillea by our front door are putting on an incredible show saying to me, Don’t go. Stay and look. See what you will miss.

It also happened this morning that our radio was tuned to Krista Tippett’s “On Being” featuring the poet David Whyte.  April is National Poetry Month, so how pleasing to hear the musical voice of David Whyte read his poems and talk about poetry and the spirit.

even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice.

–David Whyte, “Everything Is Waiting for You”

The place I’m in now as I prepare to leave is the space of poetry. It is the time when you notice what you will miss, when you see all that you have not seen, when it will all go away in an instant. Poetry helps me see–if but for a moment.

The song of the cardinal is shriller than ever this morning. The pileated woodpecker searching the hole in the dead palm trunk is brilliant: red, white, and black, bright and clear against the brown. The sunlight through the blinds as I write makes a work of art of the keyboard and my desk.

I have missed much in the days before when I drove methodically down San-Cap Road focused on how slow the car in front of me was going.

My friend down the street created a delicious dinner for four of us neighbors on Friday night. How sweet to eat cooked-to-perfection lamb chops, to taste the caramelized walnuts in the strawberry salad, and to savor the beauty of her chocolate cake with its small lake of raspberry sauce and crown of piped whipped cream! All of this as the smooth words of conversation flowed around the candles; and there too, on the table, were three translucent pink hibiscus blooms to remind me of the temporality of all of this. They bloom for only a day.IMG_0030


Writing Idea:  Look for something today that will be gone tomorrow. Go for ten minutes in your notebook. Try it again tomorrow. And the next.  It could be the last chocolate chip cookie in the bag. It could be that old shirt you decide to throw out. Is there a story or poem in the transitory? See what you have to say.


“I’ll tell you how the sun rose, a ribbon at a time.
The steeples swam in amethyst,
The news like squirrels ran.
The hills untied their bonnets,
The bobolinks begun.
Then I said softly to myself,
“That must have been the sun!”

But how he set, I know not.
There seemed a purple stile.
Which little yellow boys and girls
Were climbing all the while
Till when they reached the other side,
A dominie in gray
Put gently up the evening bars,
And led the flock away.

Emily Dickinson 

8 thoughts on “Before We Leave

    • Oh, but how I love spring in North Carolina! There is no equal. Have your flowers already bloomed? My brother tells me the azaleas in Wilmington are all finished. Such a beautiful time of year.

  1. Hi Vicky, Your post arrived just when I am preparing to return to MN after the winter in AZ. Like you, I felt I was ready to go home again, wanting to be in the comfort of my home, and to see my MN family and friends. But I am torn, as it means I must leave my AZ family. I always go through withdrawal when I leave because I miss being part of their daily lives. Lily and Will are finishing grades 6 and 3, and every week they are changing and growing before my eyes. I don’t want to miss any of that, but home is in MN. The desert is in full bloom and I hear the birds chirping outside my open windows. I love the beauty of nature and the long early morning walks with my dog as the sun rises over the mountains to the east. I’m still new to the fact of splitting my time between two places, but I feel lucky to have this opportunity to do so. Like you, I value each day and the joy I find in time spent with family and friends in both places. Thanks for your blog. It will be nice to see you again too.

    • Hi, Gloria! How nice to hear from you and to know that you’re experiencing the same feelings.”Withdrawal” is a good word. These grandchildren are so dear and change so much before we see them again. Ella, who is 12, is now as tall as I am; and Maya is growing up fast.They were here for spring break. Jason and his family were also down here for a couple of weeks. Very quiet after everyone left!
      I’m glad you’re staying tuned to the blog, and I look forward to seeing you in Minneapolis where we can have our usual book talk and a good lunch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *