I spent yesterday evening snugly crowded amongst the white-painted bookshelves of Seal Harbor, Maine’s impossibly charming, 130-year-old Public Library. There was just enough room in the tiny white colonial to tuck in an odd collection of about eighteen chairs, two of which made a grand pair of tufted thrones in the back sunroom, where I sat to sign books after the event.
The audience buoyed me up with their enthusiasm, their smiles and nods, a phenomenon I have missed through the Zoom days of book touring. I was struck once again with the miracle that is me giving talks to appreciative readers about a book that I actually wrote and published. Sometimes that fact daunts me, or makes me feel like an imposter. But this group with their open-eyed interest and probing curiosity affirmed a truth that stops me in my tracks. Holy smokes. This is really happening.
But it was two bigger miracles that fed the depths of my elation last night. It was all I could do to put my phone away for the talk, since my son and daughter-in-law were already well into their sixteenth hour of labor, waiting for their first child to emerge into this world as I greeted my audience. Only nine days earlier, we added another new member to our family clan, another granddaughter to join my daughter and son-in-law and their 2 ¾ year-old sister.
Overflowing with the joy of everything on this perfect summer evening, wrapped in a temperature that foregoes jacket or air conditioning, I drove away from the talk, windows open, below a ceiling of corduroy clouds, underlit in pink and gold by the setting sun. I couldn't stop smiling.
Sometimes it’s easier to sustain joy in solitude. My smile stuck for miles, uninterrupted by distractions. It was almost tiring, but I decided to hold on to it beneath the last flickers of evening light at a roadside lobster and Bar-B-Q stand on the side of the road. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich and side of slaw with chunks of fresh pineapple, and I sat at an outdoor picnic table to eat. I had my pick. I was the only customer there, which suited me just fine. I savored the meal, but was more thoroughly fueled by the buzz of elation that proved to have tenacious staying power.
Were you feeling something like this, Robert Browning , when you wrote these lines?
God’s in His heaven,
All’s right with the world.
And my daughter’s family is enriched by a new sister, and my son will be a Dad, and the world is a beautiful place, and life has given me treasures beyond reason. So I wanted to relish the sensation, because of course those moments dwindle and fade like the afterglow, after the sun dips down and the air cools and another rotation of the Earth moves us along in time. But I must hold on to this moment and remember.
**Zoe Frances was born in the wee hours of August 11, to join her cousin Fiona and almost twin cousin Lucy. Happy Birth Day, Zoe! Everyone is doing well.
Robin Clifford Wood is an award-winning author, poet, and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her children, grandchildren, and granddogs.