E.B. White once wrote, “The curse of flight is speed. Or, rather, the curse of flight is that no opportunity exists for dawdling.”
I’ve been reading White as we’ve dawdled the past few days near his long-time Brooklin home in Maine, our feet very much on the ground (and water). The first dictionary definition of dawdle is “to waste time,” but then options such as “moving slowly and idly” are put forth, as is “languid” and “saunter.” I prefer the latter choices, as we’ve been dawdling, but definitely not wasting time.
Monday we sat outside the Pilgrim’s Inn, at water’s edge, and read for a couple of hours in the morning, enjoying a picture perfect Maine summer day. Then we sauntered (if you can do so by car) over for a late lunch at the Brooklin Inn. Our friends Tim Boggs and James Schwartz had invited us to their area home for an afternoon sail and dinner.
As we were walking out of the Inn, James and Tim drove by, stopped, and encouraged us to hop in for a short tour of area sites. First stop – the graves of Katherine and E.B. White.
We then drove by the White’s old house and farm, made famous in many a book and New Yorker essay, and had a quick wave from the current owners who are friends of our hosts. Afterwards we stopped back to pick up our car and browse through a wonderful book and gift store (where I picked up In the Words of E.B. White: Quotations from America’s Most Companionable of Writers) before heading to the summer home of our friends.
Candice and I are not sailors, but after a quick house tour we headed out at low tide in “Wilbur” – the dinghy – and boarded the beautiful wooden boat “Red Head” that Tim and James have moored in the bay near their home. Over the next 90 minutes we dawdled while Tim and James worked. It was a delightful way to take in their environs on a day made for sailing. Along the way we enjoyed views of the lighthouse at the end of Herrick Bay, along with views of Blue Hill and Acadia National Park.
We returned as the tide was coming in for drinks, conversation, and a wonderful meal with our hosts. It was great to catch up with both of these friends. They have been colleagues, family friends, and much more to all four of the Browns, and the evening passed much too quickly. As the summer light was fading, however, Tim took us down to the water’s edge to see the remarkable sky at sunset.
Today we dawdled some more, with reading book-ended around a lunch-time trip to near-by Stonington. That gave me the chance to finish the In the Words of E.B. White book. A delightful read, and I’ll leave you with just a few thoughts from one of the 20th century masters of our language.
- Never hurry and never worry! (Charlotte’s Web)
- Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs. The adjective hasn’t been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place. (The Elements of Style)
- If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. (E.B. White: A Biography)
- I discovered by test that fully ninety per cent of whatever was on my desk at any given moment were IN things. Only ten percent were OUT things – almost too few to warrant a special container. This, in general, must be true of other people’s lives too. It is the reason lives get so cluttered up – so many things (except money) filtering in, so few things (except strength) draining out. (One Man’s Meat)
- I would really rather feel bad in Maine than feel good anywhere else. (Letters of E.B. White)
I suspect you’ll see more of these in the future…but now I need to go and dawdle a bit.
More to come…