The house adjusts itself in pops and squeaks, while overhead, airplane motors drone above the tops of swaying pines. On the street a car engine revs; in the backyard a bird sings cheak, cheak, and then flies away.
Until a half hour ago teenage girls laughed and hip-checked each other and slouched and scuffed their flip-flopped feet. Grinning through gapped teeth, a six-year-old reached a brave hand to a temperamental cat then stepped back to tuck her fingers into a grown-up palm. As we clicked photo after photo, gathering proof, creating history, they tossed their heads bored, turning away, living the moments not recording them. Slamming victorious hands on the butcher-block table and high-fiving, they played “Apples to Apples” and “Mad Gab,” twirling brown hair while one said “You guys” and the others “Y’all;” one called me Mom and three called me M’am, but in similar timbres that confused all who heard.
Visitors to the area make us see our own world more clearly—the sliver of a moon framed between the halyard and mast of a dry-docked sailboat, hump-backed boulders lining the beach, sea mist floating above a churning ocean, snails that suction their way across damp sand. We realize that we don’t know the names of the trees whose shedding leaves carpet the roadway after two weeks of rain, nor the pink blossoms on the bushes that line a chain linked fence. Once again we see a windmill with arms that dip and circle and stretch above our horizon; rocks littering the beach come into focus as pink and black dappled stone, smooth gray granite or amber stripes, treasures brushed off and pocketed with memory attached.
We notice how fast we drive, how quickly we speak, how unthinkingly we interrupt here in the North, where the world spins at a feverish tempo. Before long the clock will pick up its measured movement, reverting to a previous cadence, life as before, time as always; but for now, raindrops splat on the wooden deck, a hummingbird vibrates and wings away, a truck speeds by, the computer clicks, a house shifts onto itself, cracking, squealing, echoing, empty.