I stopped wearing a watch about five years ago when the one I had quit and I never got around to replacing it. I started depending on my phone to tell me the time of day. At first, my wrist felt naked and exposed after decades of having something strapped to it twenty-four hours a day. The habit of constantly looking down and checking my left wrist died a slow death. Even now, I occasionally catch myself doing it. Often, with my cell phone in my other hand.
Time. We are time addicts.
There is never enough of it, is there? At least that’s what everyone says whether they are actually busy or not. All this rushing, rushing through minutes and hours and days and years that human beings do seems kind of silly, doesn’t it? I wonder if animals and birds ever think about time. Yesterday, I watched our old hound as she watched a red squirrel sail between two trees in our back yard. Maggie hasn’t had a good romp in those woods for a couple of summers now and I wonder if she has any concept of time, how much she once had and how much she has left. Lame, deaf, and impatient, she’d be a prime candidate for a room with a view in a dog nursing home if there was such a thing. But instead, she has us, the people who have loved her for seventeen people-years.
It is finally springtime.
Last night, I fell asleep in the screen porch for the first time this year, drifting off to the sound of spring peepers in the bog across the road and waking at sunrise to songbirds in the maple trees. Is there anything more glorious than sleeping in a screen porch after a winter of darkness, down comforters, and tightly locked windows? If there is, I haven’t found it. Who needs an alarm clock in mid-May? Who needs a watch or phone?
As a teacher, I’ve measured time in lessons and deadlines and due dates…in weeks and semesters and school years. As a mother and a spouse, I’ve measured it in childhoods ending and adulthoods just beginning as well as decades of waking up in the same house with the same partner every morning. I measure family time and cabin time and time with friends and count people years, and dog years, too.
But lately, I measure time in a new and better way.
In seasons and sunrises and sounds.
In a porch, with an old gray-faced dog who watches red squirrels and never asks me what time it is.