It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquillity,
Those first few lines from a sonnet by William Wordsworth often run through my mind on fitting occasions. This evening was such an occasion: truly “beauteous, calm and free”. The air was perfect, so cool and fresh that it felt as though it was washing me clean. I had the same invigorating feeling that you get when you are out for a swim and you surge up from under the water and feel it all wash over you.
The sky was gorgeous and impossible to ignore with its staggering clouds and growing shades of purple, gold, and pink. At the start of my sunset stroll, I had the pleasure of seeing a rainbow. I think it set the tone for the entire walk, for the sight buoyed up my somewhat lagging spirits and made me look about. More lovely surprises were in store.
I took a southeasterly route, which led me to the neighborhood of Reed College. If you live in Portland, Oregon, and you have not yet been to this area, do visit. The campus has many lovely old buildings and fine landscaping. The homes along the avenues south of campus are well-maintained and full of older charm. Some are big and impressive, others are smaller, but almost all are pretty to look at and the streets are quiet.
One home on 32nd avenue particularly captured my attention. Some houses have a way of inviting the imagination to enter them and make up stories about them. This house reminded me of the big houses you find in children’s novels. They are full of mysteries, secret passages, hidden rooms and private conversations. The impression brought me back to that feeling from childhood of being totally immersed in the world of a book. The worlds that exist in books I read as a child are worlds I can still visit today, that I can sense if not in perfect detail, then at least for the atmosphere.
Others were also out enjoying the evening, including a couple with an adorable French Bulldog name Leroy, whom of course I asked to pet. The couple said yes, but Leroy, like many dogs on walks, had a mission following something on the wind that had nothing to do with a boring human like me. Nonetheless, it was a pleasure to see the dog and smile at the people.
Many times along the way I had to stop just to admire the beautiful view to the west. The sun was setting in a clear space below the towering clouds and the horizon. Each passing moment opened my heart a little more, made me breath a little deeper. During the last mile I found myself smiling uncontrollably and filled with a desire to shout out to everyone,”Isn’t it wonderful?! It is so beautiful!?” I restrained myself then, but I am sharing it now with you, my gentle reader.
By the time I was almost home, the sun had just slipped “down in its tranquillity” and all my low spirits had slipped away too. In their place were peace and joy that overflowed. My heart was so full of happiness and gratitude it could burst. Who says the best things in life aren’t free?
To read the full poem, visit http://www.bartleby.com/145/ww211.html