For the past couple of weeks, when writing at home, I’ve avoided our family study, a small room with a narrow desk that seems too confining as spring arrives.
Instead, I carry my laptop to the dining room table, which overlooks a large bank of windows. I’m greedy for the growing light of the new season, a cheering thing even when deadlines keep me at a keyboard.
The table where I sit has always been a part of my life. It once stood in the home of my childhood — in a formal dining room where we usually gathered only on holidays. For the rest of the year, the room was a quiet place where I could study. Even now, when I sit at the table alone, I feel the solemn gravity of obligation shadowing my mood. I’ve never sat at the table by myself unless I had something to do — arithmetic, a term paper, a college application, and now, in midlife, the professional chores that sometimes creep into a weekend.
To sit at the table is to remember many other springs when, planted in this vintage dining room chair, I’ve felt torn between indoor work and outdoor bliss. This is the spot where, in coming days, I’ll probably sort through tax documents while, just beyond the windows, some radiant Saturday or Sunday blooms into view.
The view itself is a consolation — a way of tricking me into thinking that even though I’m working, I’m not quite on the clock. Our grade school teachers sometimes struck a similar bargain each spring when they sensed the itchiness of kids daydreaming of the playground. They’d escort us outside, where we’d learn history or grammar beneath the shade of a tree. The change of scenery struck me back then as a liberating gift. I now understand that my teachers were treating themselves, too. As spring blossomed, they didn’t really want to be in a classroom, either.
What I like best about the view from my dining room these days is the just-rightness of the light. On dim winter mornings, the sun seemed not much interested in our patio garden, which wasn’t, truth be told, much to look at. It was probably best not to shine a spotlight on wind-weary flowerbeds that looked like a bag of rags. But the light has strengthened, and the garden is rebounding, too. New shoots of ginger extend from their raised beds, like hands offered in greeting. The sago palm is fanning out its usual pageant of green, as extravagant as an Easter hat. Soon, English ivy will snake up every outer wall, trying to steal the house for itself.
The sun will, soon enough, be making claims of its own, emboldened by summer to blind us with its brilliance, baking everything to a crisp.
But for now, the daylight seems perfect. It’s probably time to close the laptop and go outside.