Inside the Rhododendron Hedge
I took Thistle for her morning walk yesterday along the same side road we take most mornings. As we headed up a steep bit, she stopped to nose through the leaves on the side of the road (whew–puff, puff–suits me!). As she poked around, I noticed an opening in the mass of rhododendrons growing there. It looked almost like a passageway. I started to tug on Thistle to get her moving again, but then I hesitated, and followed her through the gap in the leaves instead.
It was like entering a leafy, green cave. There was a sort of room there, banked in by branches and I thought how I would have LOVED this when I was a kid. The ground rose steeply to the back with a more or less level area in the opening. It was perfect for playing house, for hiding from brothers or parents, for reading or writing or drawing, for baking mud pies, for holding secret treasures, and for dreaming.
We had places like that leafy bower when I was a kid. The giant chestnut stump that had rotted out leaving a perfect, circular fort. The little clearing where we transplanted moss to make a”carpet.” The tunnels we built in hay bales in the barn. Little havens of escape.
So why don’t I have places like that anymore? I used to pack a bag with an apple, a book, a pen, and a notebook and hike out onto the hogback on our farm to sit and contemplate. In college, I would take my notebook and pen and hop on a bicycle to pedal down to the cemetery where I would peer through the bars in a crypt and dream about who those people might have been.
Now I do most of my writing at the dining room table. It’s a nice spot, but it’s not . . . inspiring. And here’s what I think my lack of special spots boils down to: TIME. I’m too busy to pack up and go to a special place. It’s easier to sit at the table where cups of tea and chocolate are just a few feet away. Not to mention laundry and tomorrow’s to-do list.
It’s not a very good excuse. I’m thinking it might be time to stake out a leafy bower and spend an afternoon watching the changing shadows cast by the sun.