How Does the Light Get In?

WHEN I turn on the cold water tap and water warm enough to shower in hits my toothbrush, I know it’s August in panhandle Florida without consulting a calendar. We are the only residents in this Longleaf pine forest. When the house was built a narrow water line from the main road was run roughly a third of a mile and buried in a shallow trench; a connection to the Farm Hill water source so slender for such an oversized dwelling as to remind us of the impermanence of large objects that appear to be solid, eternal. The water which emerges from the small line reflects ambient temperatures more than a line buried deeply would.

I know the hot temperatures have reached their maximum range for this summer and can almost hear a seasonal “ding!” that marks the end of this round. In a few weeks, I won’t pop out in a sweat five minutes into a simple walk to the gate.

Seven hundred and eighty five of my medium-sized woman steps bring me from our front door to the listing old farm gate out by the main road where the newspaper is tossed each morning. The premier joy of this journey is to visit with the hawk pair who live in the ancient spreading live oak tree just inside the gate.


I’ve been listening to the audio version of Anthony Doerr’s wonderful book, All the Light We Cannot See. Zach Appelman is a stellar narrator with amazing range and subtlety. Janet Maslin wrote a superb review in the New York Times this past April. Read her review here.

The heroine, Marie-Laure LeBlanc, is a young girl who is blind. The setting is France during the Nazi occupation in World War II. Doerr’s counting, listing, and number of things in the natural world and the way in which Marie-Laure navigates, thanks to her father’s loving miniature models and her great-uncle Etienne’s storytelling and friendship, has me thinking in a different way as I navigate my own way through my life. Doerr’s lyrical prose sings. I hear it in my head long after the pause button on my iphone’s app has been pressed.

morning light on tree trunk

Morning light always has a surprise or two up its sleeve. I have photographed this tree near the stream bed many times over the years. It makes me smile, maybe because I’ve always thought it looked like a man trying to get to China the hard way.

sunset at the sanctuary
sunset at the sanctuary

At the end of the day, this time after a late thunderstorm, a glorious sunset draws me outdoors again. The moment is gone in minutes. The key to experiencing it was to get up off the couch and run outside soon as I got a glimmer of that special light.

Buck: my inner light
Buck: my inner light

It happened like that the first time I saw my husband. We’ve been together now roughly thirty-three years. The day I met him, I knew. Inexplicable, and yet I knew. He stood to speak at a meeting. He spoke about taxes. How romantic. Can’t you see how my passions were inflamed?

I was broken then, thirty years old and ending a failed marriage. Buck was the light that came in through the shattered bits. He still is.


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