First, you need a good sized backyard with a garden that is just beginning to pop up it's bounty. Then a white adirondack chair. A breeze on a summer's night that is not warm and not cool, just in between.
Get yourself something to drink. You pick. If you need to stay away from caffeine don't pick iced coffee or tea. Or a diet soda. I like iced green tea. Just a cup, though. Not one of those gigantic sippy cups you get at convenience marts. You don't want to be up all night peeing.
Ease yourself down into that adirondack chair. Smell the faint after leavings of lillies and peonies that are in their downsizing phase. Lily of the Valley. Roses. And something else. What is that? Oh. It rained this afternoon and you can still smell the residue of that on the grass and trees.
Now, look up into the big maple tree that shades where you sit. In the hot afternoons, you can always sit out here with a good book and the tree happily shades you, peeks to see what you are reading. But, at night, leave the porch light off, it will draw bugs.
Just sit in your chair and gaze up into the tree. Watch the leaves swaying just a little bit in the breeze. Take a sip of tea. Miss your wife. Or don't. And that is okay too. Sometimes it is nice to be alone. Stretch your legs out. Note a few aches and pains and then try to let them go as well. Concentrate on the cool wood against your legs.
Listen. You can hear the faint noises of birds. Of insects. Squirrels putting their children to sleep. ("It's okay, little one. The human won't hurt you. She is being quiet. Don't pay her any mind. Time for sleep. You have a big day tomorrow. Maybe we can go to that park you like and and you and your brothers can chase each other all over the place. Now, sleep, little one. Sleeeep.")
Take another sip of tea. Look up into the branches. Note how they silhouette so nicely against the sky. The shapes of the leaves so pretty and precise.
Tell the tree that. Tell her that you think she is gorgeous. Well, whisper it. The neighbors might be out and you don't want them thinking you have gone mad. Feel the tree blush. Listen. The tree asks you if you have any secrets.
Trees and rabbits are the secret keepers. They won't tell anyone anything you have to say.
Feel your eyes fill with tears. Because you have lots of secrets. You are afraid of dying young, leaving your child. You worry about this body of yours that seems to be falling apart.
You miss your father. Or your mother. A sister. A friend. A brother. A child. You wish that you knew how to be a better mother, father, sister, daughter, friend, spouse.
You wish that instead of snapping at your daughter to pleassseee get her pajamas on and get into bed, you had said, "Okay. Run around naked and let the air dry your skin. And then when you are ready, put on your pjs and snuggle into bed and instead of one chapter of your book tonight, let's read two. Maybe three."
Tell the tree that you will do better tomorrow. That your intentions are so, so good. But sometimes other things get in the way. Bills. Phone calls. Fatigue.
Think about how old the tree is. How much it has seen. All the storms it has weathered. The seasons, one following the next, each one with it's good times and bad. The warmth of summer, the cool compress of Autumn after all that heat, the silence of winter, and then the slow waking up and stretcccchhhhiinnng of spring.
Take another sip of tea. Notice some rabbits playing in the yard. Look over at your vegetable garden, your herb garden, all your flowers. Think of how they are so bountiful, so plentiful, so rich.
Feel a cooler breeze start to pick up. Shiver a little in your thin nightshirt. Reach down and rub that bunion on your left toe. Run your fingers over it back and forth, back and forth, massaging a little. It hurts when you do that, but it feels good too.
Look over at your neighbor's house. It is dark. Sven has left the building. Think about his mother inside that house, laying in her bed, maybe mentally making her small grocery list. With Sven back at school, there is no need to buy whole carts of groceries anymore. Think about how just yesterday when you saw her in the yard and asked how she was doing, she said, "fine, fine" except her eyes said, "it hurts to be without my boy."
Send her a warm thought, a hug.
Sigh. Finish your tea.
Get up slowly, feeling your knee buckle a little, complain. Feel your wrist ache around the cup of tea.
Climb the steps to the back door. Tell the tree, the rabbits, the mother squirrel, the gardens goodnight. Turn the porch light back on.
Go inside and lock the door. Check it.
Put the cup in the dishwasher and slowly walk through the house, turning out lights.
Stop to check on your daughter laying limp as a rag doll in her bed. Pull the sheet up a little bit. Kiss her cheek. Feel your throat close a little with love.
Tiptoe away, back into your bedroom.
Take one long look at yourself in the bathroom mirror. Smile. Stop smiling. Think that you wish your teeth were whiter. Run your hand over your cheek and think about how nice it feels when she does that. Touch your lips with your fingers, imagine for just a second that it is her hand.
Sigh. Shut off the bathroom light and pull back the covers of your bed.
Crawl in and look at the book on the nightstand. Decide that you are too tired to read. Shut off the light.
Feel the softness of the sheets against your aching joints. Turn your head back and forth on the silky pillow.
Look out your window, it's bottom raised up halfway. Think that tomorrow you will have to give in and turn on the air conditioner. But, for tonight, no.
Feel your eyes get heavy and then slowly close.
The tree tells you goodnight but you don't hear it. You are already asleep.
You will dream about squirrels and parks and your daughter dancing in a rainstorm tonight.