Take Some Time to Stand & Stare

Busyness of a gloriously productive and energizing kind has been the byeword around here for the last month. Great milestones were achieved and much good done. But sometimes a breath, a pause, a quiet time to look are needed. Refreshment for the soul. A respite that is just as necessary as the checked off task.

Every evening, as a family, our quiet moment comes after dinner as we read another page from the rich and delightful book, A Poem for Every Night of the Year, by Allie Esiri.

Last night the poem was 'Leisure' by Welshman W. H. Davies.


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
— W.H. Davies

Standing & Staring: in the Arboretum

The familiar poem, quoted throughout my childhood by my parents, backed up our resolve to enjoy an early morning nature walk today, despite it being the work week, with a long commute, and 'much to do.' 

So I went for a walk early this morning with my husband in Harvard's Arnold Arboretum to see if their famous lilacs were in bloom. Usually they reach their peak on Mother's Day, also celebrated by the Arboretum as Lilac Sunday, which is nearly two weeks away. But we thought perhaps they were well in flower already. And we were right.

On Lilac Sunday, thirty thousand throng the Arboretum, picnicking, parading their dogs, jostling to photograph and video the scene. This morning though, other than a jogger or two, and some quiet gardeners trimming the lilacs ready for their big day, we were quite alone. We walked from Bussey Street, along the Beech path that skirts Bussey Hill, to the sloping hillside of 375 lilacs—about 175 different kinds—the oldest dating from 1876. The early morning light slanted dramatically through the woods. We stopped to marvel at the soft, new beech tree leaves. The fragrant lilac breeze greets you as you round the hill even before you see the lilac blooms.

We photographed what we saw on the way there, and looked and talked on the way back. There's a time even for no more pictures. My husband pointed out a robin, a foot away at our eye level, quietly spying us from the interior of a lilac bush. We stood completely still and watched. It paused. We paused. Its eye glistened as it curiously took us in, then slowly drooped, and the bird seemed to doze off, quite unconcerned about us as a threat. We quietly moved on.

Having lived here all these years, I've visited the Arboretum often, but never have had an early morning rendezvous with the lilacs. Why is that?

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How About You?

Where's your favorite place to 'stand and stare'? When's the last time you went there?

I'd love to hear from you in the comments at the bottom of this post.


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