Bardiac has it right: this time of year, we are all busy going to more receptions than Queen Elizabeth in garden party season. We are grading papers and meeting with students as though we all were MOOC superprofessors who had to meet with students and grade. This time of year can make people act out, as with a recent email fusillade that was addressed to, but wasn't really directed at, me per se but at others who had annoyed the person.
It's the time of year when I overheard a student (or student-aged person) say this in Starbucks the other day: "Yeah, and I'll teach them 'Columbus sailed the ocean blue' in whenever it was." She was not kidding, and the fellow student nodded in agreement.
But it will soon be over, and now it's spring, for real. I see flowers, and they're not surrounded by snow. When I walk, I can smell the trees flowering and the fresh pine chips or mulch that people put around their bushes. Further out, I can smell that odd combination of pine trees and pine needles and dust that only occurs when there's a dry patch (a few days without rain) in the summertime. I can hear the birds even when the windows are closed.
And so when I went out for a walk/run today, I deliberately put the fusillade and a couple of other recent irritations out of my mind and began to think about that loveliest of topics, the writing house.
At a professional gathering recently, I talked to someone who had visited a famous author who had a writing house on the lawn in back of his/her house. Of course I said "Tell me more." It wasn't large, I learned, maybe about 8 x 8' or 10 x 10', more of a shed than a Michael Pollan-style house. It had rough shelves, and a chair, and lots of books, and electricity. It sounded wonderful, and on my walk I starting trying to figure out if I could actually save up and get one, or at least a garden shed that would be a writing shed in disguise--more George Bernard Shaw writing hut than Dickens's writing chalet.
I don't know why this particular fantasy of having a writing house, which is about as likely as unicorn dropping by to spirit me off to Narnia, is so persistent. Maybe it's the idea that you can walk to the end of the garden and let the rest of it disappear for a while. With the academic world and the end of the semester pressing in, it's a whole lot more pleasant to think about than anything else.