Friday, December 14, 2007

A Friday Night Moment

One of the first things I noticed about our neighborhood when we moved here in 1986 was that people decorated for the holidays. ALL of the holidays. Easter. Mother's Day. Valentine's Day. Thanksgiving. Halloween. Chanukah. And especially the Big Kahuna: Christmas. Okay, so maybe it was done with a wee bit more restraint than in our old neighborhood (where one enthusiastic home owner set up an ice machine that created a ten foot tall tower of ice on his front lawn and turned said lawn into Long Island's version of the Wollman Rink. Some of the neighbors grumbled about it but I have to admit his excess kind of charmed me. I'm twinkly white lights kind of outdoor decorator but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate big honkin' red and blue and green bulbs strung across a roofline or inflatable Santas with eight inflatable reindeer the size of bullmoose. Because I do.

One of the most charming and ubiquitous decorating trends in this part of New Jersey (and in many parts of eastern Pennsylvania, I've noticed) is the use of electric candles in the front windows. We break them out around Thanksgiving in our neighborhood and put them away after New Year's and for six weeks or so I feel like I live in a magical village from another century. (Okay, so maybe I'm being slightly hyperbolic but I'm a writer. I can't help myself.)

Anyway, I was futzing around with the candles in our living room window earlier this evening and I was having trouble making one of them stand up the way I wanted it to. I was working up a pretty good head of extremely annoyed steam when I finally decided to step outside, breathe some of the cool crisp almost-winter air, and take a look at the window from a different perspective.

It was almost dark. The sky was a beautiful shade of silvered mauve with a curved slice of moon rising overhead. I could smell woodsmoke from our neighbors' chimneys. Somewhere in the distance a train whistle sounded and I heard the unmistakable cries of a flock of geese heading homeward. I looked up and waited and seconds later was rewarded by the sight of over fifty Canada geese in a giant V formation heading toward the field a few blocks away. I held my breath as the formation shifted as they flew, one giant V turned into three smaller Vs, then an elongated wing shape, then melding seamlessly back into the original configuration, honking loudly the whole time.

I don't know what it was: the season, the beauty of the night, the fact that I get extremely emotional when I'm writing, but I started to cry. Nothing major. No shoulder-wracking sobs. Just a stream of tears I couldn't quite stop. I'm a kid from Queens whose bedroom window looked out on the railroad tracks forty feet away and I still can't believe I'm living a life that includes flocks of geese overhead, and rabbits in my back yard, and deer peering in my dining room window.

Lucky doesn't begin to cover it.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Brandy said...

When we look back on our lives, sometimes we are lucky enough (and wise enough) to recognize how wonderful they really are. I'm glad you had one of those moments.

December 15, 2007 at 10:58 PM  

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