Friday, June 3, 2011

Keeping it Simple

By Susan

At 6:00am, the waters of the sound are quiet. I have my coffee and binoculars and I watch the ospreys as they glide above the water, searching for food, and then ascend to their nest and perch there together at the end of the pier, squeaking in a language too high-pitched for my father to hear.

"Hand 'em to me," he says, and I give him the binoculars and watch him, the cigar clenched between his teeth.
"You hear 'em?" I ask. He shakes his head. "I think they are arguing," I say. The two birds snap their wings open and closed, fluffing themselves as they screech.

Daddy is 69 years old now, and this is one of his favorite places on earth: this deck, this chair. "He must have stayed out all night," he says, smiling, as he holds the binoculars to his weathered face. "She's none too happy." He knows these birds, and their tumbling nest that spills over the peak of the roof to the small gazebo. He follows this family of birds the way housewives follow soap operas.

He's been coming to this house in Corolla for almost ten years, and each year he watches the birds. My parents come and go with the same regularity as the ospreys. My clan of four only comes every third year or so to join them. But my parents are steady, arriving and departing each May, planning the meals and the pick-up basketball games with my nephews, scheduling walks on the beach and bike rides along the paths near the sound.

We come and go. It's predictable, it's simple. There is no drama, and the only conflict is whether we should spend the day at the ocean, the pool, or in the sound, kayaking the fresh waters in a silent glide. My children are still sleeping and today is our last day.

"I haven't told them we are leaving tomorrow," I say to Daddy.

"Don't," he says, and I nod.

When I leave here, I know, my life will lose its simplicity. I will face the daily conflicts and challenges that come with raising children, writing late into the night, and spending my days working too much. But this week, I have been completely unplugged.

I lift the binoculars again, and the osprey turns her head. She's watching me too, I realize. She's watching me come and go and perch on this deck each morning with my father as he chews his cigar and I drink my coffee. Under her gaze I can see how alike we are, this mother-bird and myself. We come, we go. The conflict between the coming and going are our own affairs. There is no conflict here between me and mother-bird, only peace.

Tomorrow, I will fight my way through the airports to make my way back to Texas with my husband and daughters. From there, I'll return to work, juggling the summer schedule of children and career, and begin querying my manuscript while I struggle to find the hours to begin my next one.

On the hectic days to come, I will stop to think about my father watching the ospreys, and I'll hold that sliver of peace with me until the next time I make it to the coast. But today, I am living it. And so I sit back with my coffee and smile.


  1. This is a sweet story. Thank you for sharing it. :)

  2. Thanks, Mallory. Sometimes a vacation is what we need to gain a better perspective on what's important in life :-)

  3. Beautiful, serene... I like your dad's perspective, sounds like he's in no hurry to get back to reality. Or... maybe that just IS his reality. I like that even better. Cheers!

  4. Anonymous08 June, 2011

    "You are my favorite!" (ha)

  5. Oh, Daddy, no secret. Everyone knows I'm your favorite!


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