As I See It


Ruth Sanford



What makes the world seem as new as if the sun had never risen on this place before?


I do not know the answer but I do know that, for me, seeing a place was someone who has never seen it before, or going to the beach with a child who has never seen the ocean can be a rare and exciting experience - if I have the imagination and good grace to let them enjoy without getting in their way. There is always the temptation to be overcome, the temptation to show my superior knowledge or to let them know how many times I've done this before. Unless I can step outside past experience, I lose the fresh and shining the edge of wonder.


A wondrous way to see a familiar place! So it was, after taking a guest to the airport, that I sat on my deck overlooking the garden, as I have sat hundreds of times. But it was new. I saw the leaf shapes, the frond forms, the rich green foliage of holly and dogwood, hemlock and pine, the dusty gray green of lilac past its prime, the semitropical lushness of avocado leaves and poinsettias.  Each one separate in shape and shade. Each plant an individual, different from every other, even those of its own kind


I saw the shining play of light from the afternoon sun on the slight and gentle tossing of the tree branches, lifting upward, upward in an intermingling vaulted pattern to the very top - and each leaf separate. each tree unique in its own patterns. I have seen these friendly trees every day for years and have been pleasured by them, seen them grow from saplings to giants. Today I saw them new as if I'd never seen maple or pine or holly before. Saw them clearly as I saw the jungle plants in Puerto Rico or the palm and hibiscus in Florida or the giant cacti of the desert or the redwoods in Muir Woods or the gay brilliance of wild flowers along the fjords since in Norway. Saw them with the eyes of wonder.


 I felt the cool soft wind coming up from the Atlantic, took time to feel it on my face, to feel the coolness of it all around me, coolness of the sea. I feel it almost every summer day in this spot, when I pause to enjoy it. There has been hardly a day when it does not come this way. But today was different. I was letting myself feel it as for the first time! How fresh it is, what a gift for a summer day!


And sounds, all familiar, all new, I heard one by one. Some of them I have purposefully and mercifully screened out, but I let myself hear that today. I listened and felt relief when they stopped. No humdrum sameness here. I heard small pleasant sounds of  activity; birdsongs, call and answer; a squirrel scurrying along a limb overhead the swish as he did his leafy trapeze act along his tree path; the click of a neighbor’s gate, a distant telephone ring which I need not answer, train and plane sound, a car motor starting, the almost silent touching of leaf against leaf


When my husband, Niel, appeared and I opened my eyes, I was expecting him because I heard his footfall on the grass quiet as it was. I was listening.


Because my senses were alive, I saw him, too, with a new pleasure. It was as if all things had become as new


I have long known that we, that I, can miss much of life by walking through it with the blinders or dark glasses on, with the ear stoppers and insulated body-suit of familiarity taking days and persons around us for granted.


It was so easy and simple today that it called to mind a tiny snatch of a  poem almost forgotten.

But never knew I this

Here such a pleasure is