Driving home in the dark after work one night last week, I turned off the two-lane highway onto the quiet 4-mile stretch of country road that leads to my house. As I drove along the familiar curves, I noticed the placement of Christmas ornaments hanging from trees every 20 yards or so. These were not lights, simply large, colorful balls, some hanging loftily, a few on telephone lines crossing the road, some low enough to imagine a child had placed them. Later, in daylight, I noticed a small unassuming sign, crediting the display to a collection of community members. I remembered the display of small flags that appeared similarly, in July.
To my own surprise, seasonal curmudgeon that I tend to be, I found myself enchanted. I felt reached out to, not intrusively, to extend a neighborly cheer. Christmas lights appearing along the highway are welcome too; in the darkest days of the year, lights are welcome.
I am planning a quiet Thanksgiving weekend, taking myself to the raw Washington coast for a few days of private retreat. I do so love my solitude. I am looking forward to turning off the computer, applying pen-to-notebook, reading, living in my own thoughts, sitting in the sauna and walking on the beach in the rain, which is nonstop at this time of year. I can’t help wondering from time to time if lacking a sense of community and spending so much time alone, is a habit I will eventually regret. But instead I feel neighbors reaching out to me in a soft way, telling me it is fine to live the way I do. An intentionally quiet life should be cherished too.