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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn Steele Agosta

In Praise of Quiet Mornings

In Praise of Quiet Mornings

 

This morning, as on most other mornings, I did some reading while eating breakfast. Today’s book was Elizabeth Cadell’s ‘My Dear Aunt Flora’, published originally in 1946, although I’m reading it on Kindle. Ever since the Covid quarantine, I find my taste in literature has increasingly veered toward solid comfort food. I want lovely settings, kindly people, small-town dilemmas. I want to be able to imagine myself into the stories. This is my form of escapism, I suppose, whereas my daughter Katie loves thrillers, the kind that she would definitely NOT want to imagine herself into the setting.




I am on Chapter 3, which lovingly spends 38 Kindle pages describing a hot, sunny day in a rural community, where the characters are sitting about having cool drinks in the morning, fresh tea in the afternoon, talking in gentle ways about their neighbors, their gardens, the two crazy sisters who bicker all the time, and the various bells, whistles and horns that they use to summon their children who conveniently all play together in a big field far enough away to not involve the adults in any of their dramas. 38 pages! And I haven’t finished Chapter 3 yet! Although there is a storm on the horizon – a planned visit to the crazy sisters.


This past Thursday, our book club had its annual meeting to propose titles for the coming year. I never have any to propose. The books I’ve read over the last year don’t lend themselves to book club discussion – not only are they nearly all old titles (and I mean 1930’s to the 1950’s), but they’re too sedate. Very little action. I’ve been reading authors like Rosamunde Pilcher and Maeve Binchy, Angela Thirkell, Elizabeth Cadell, Victor Canning, D.E. Stevenson, Helen Hoover Santmyer, Agatha Christie, and Elin Hilderbrand. The only plot-driven books here are by the last two authors, and while the book club does not tend toward action-heavy books, they need something controversial or interesting to discuss. Therefore, I rarely have anything to offer by way of suggestion. (Fortunately, other members did, and we have selected seven promising books for next season!)


Well….it seems clear that the leisurely pace in Chapter Three has given me leisurely thoughts this morning and a leisurely pace to this writing. I took my second cup of coffee with me out to the back deck, which overlooks Lake Norman, and sat quietly enjoying the view. Two fishermen in a bass boat glided silently from pier to pier. Three mallards searched the grass for bugs. There was little breeze, only enough to ruffle the very top branches of the trees, and birds twittered their messages but calmly, no frenzy today. My husband had gone back to bed and our dog was apparently feeling too lazy to join me out on the deck. Usually, the squeak of the door hinges brings him instantly to attention, but not today.


So, it was all a case of quiet and solitude.




Yesterday, three of my sisters and myself met for lunch to celebrate sister Deb’s recent birthday. Any excuse will do, and we went to the Cheesecake Factory, where I nibbled on grilled shrimp and chopped cabbage. No carbs for me. sigh But even so, we had a good time, filling each other in on recent events in our lives. I’m so thankful for my sisters (which include our sister-in-law, Linda). No matter how much time apart, we can immediately bond when we’re together. Our sister Lori was not able to join us, due to health reasons, but hopefully soon she will be up and around again. We managed to spend about an hour and a half talking and laughing with almost no break, and it was great. But part of our discussion was about Linda’s brother-in-law, who is probably reaching his final months of life. It’s a sobering thought about how we spend our later years. I seem, increasingly, to spend a lot of my time among people my age and older, and we compare notes on arthritis and health insurance and frequent medical appointments. Sometimes it can seem like all we do is go from one doctor visit to another. Man, I have enough hobbies, I don’t want to stay busy in this way. I have piano lessons to learn, watercolors to paint, books to read, walks to take, grandchildren to spoil.


A few weeks ago, Matt and I went up to Michigan to visit relatives. We do this generally twice a year, and it’s always a good time. We are good travel companions, making the drive up I-77 through the mountains and across the Ohio turnpike to Toledo and the final bit north, syncing our snack needs and potty breaks. We got together with Matt’s older brother, Russ, and with many of our cousins on both sides. Cousins are great. These are the people you spent time with, growing up, and they’re just as delightful today as they were then. They even had the great good sense to marry people who are also just as delightful. We spent five days talking and laughing and catching up, and then drove home downhill all the way. Great trip. Invigorating trip. Lovely, kindly people with small-town dilemmas. My kind of book. Er, life.

Of course, not everything is on the surface. Everyone experiences real issues, not just the gentle, British-novel type. Life and death and love and loss. Aging and financial distress and worries for others and fears for the nation and possibly even a sense of losing control over our own lives. But these issues can fade for a brief time, perhaps, with the benefit of a quiet morning.


After the fishermen moved on to other piers out of sight, and the mallards flew off – quacking – and I finished the last of my coffee, I went back inside. Matt and the dog were still asleep. I cleared my breakfast dishes, plugged my Kindle in to recharge, poured myself a third cup of coffee, and came in here to write this post. It has very little action and no drama. No plot. Just some thoughts and some thankfulness that – at least, right now – my life is fairly serene, an Elizabeth Cadell novel. I know it won’t stay that way, so I’m grateful when it happens. My biggest plan for the day is going to watch my grandson James play softball, and to visit with his parents and siblings while he takes practice swings out on home base, or stands in the outfield, waiting for an opportunity to field a ball. James’ younger brother, Silas, will cadge for Lance crackers and Goldfish. His sister, Evie, will display the many little tchotchkes she carries in her backpack. His parents will be watching all three kids simultaneously (oh, the memories of my days doing that!), Matt will cheer for James and rub his arthritic knee, and our dog will be at home wondering bitterly why we always go off and leave him.


It has been a quiet morning. And I think it will be a good day. I did some writing, which always makes me feel productive, and which I haven't done in some time, so I feel extra good. And I send my best wishes to all of you. That’s it. No plot, no excitement, no thrills. Thank goodness.



 

 

 

 

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Debra Lail
Debra Lail
May 21

Enjoyed this non-drama writing of appreciation! It's the little things!

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Carolyn Steele Agosta
Carolyn Steele Agosta
May 21
Replying to

Thanks!

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