“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”—Henry James
My favorite summer pastime used to be sitting under a lovely sprawling old oak on campus, reading Henry James—his lovely sprawling old prose that felt like summer itself in its unfolding.
But sometime over the summers I got too impatient for those lingering sentences (the way my mind got too fragmented years ago to sit and play chess any more, though I used to be happily absorbed for hours or even all day).
Now I’m sitting under our olive reading terser prose, happy that Anne Hillerman has taken up her father’s amiable series with Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, though Tony Hillerman too is an author of my past (someone my father worked with at the newspaper when he first moved to Santa Fe).
And I’m happy to have time to read at all, to lose myself if only for a short while in the spell of words. I remember when I was studying for my master’s degree and working at a stressful job full-time besides, having only the leisure or energy left in a week to add a tiny haiku in.
image: Henri Lebasque, Young Woman in Hammock