The Spanish Veranda
by Joshua Paul Greene
It was an early September afternoon and the summer’s stifling heat had finally subsided. She sat at the vintage, 1920′s table out on the veranda of her Spanish cottage and wrote letters long over-due to family members and long-lost friends. Just as she had almost lost herself in the words she was scribbling to her childhood sweetheart, a small and simple leaf fell on the envelope beside her. It acted almost as an alarm set off by nature to warn her of the miraculous display she was missing, and just as she looked up towards the leaf, she understood the meaning of its arrival. The spanish sun broke through the haze of the late-summer day and illuminated the trees in a way she had never seen before. The golden lining on the intricate, rich green leaves was an image that seemed too beautiful to be created intentionally. The waves of light seemed to be flowing over the neatly planted rows of the vineyard to craft a painting so flawless that even a master artist couldn’t find a single shortcoming. But despite the utter perfection of the moment, it was the transient, short-lived nature of the overwhelmingly exciting experience that made it so wonderful.
She had grown up in a world where nothing had been uncertain and everything had been easy. She had never known struggle and yet she craved it; she had always known everlasting comfort and yet she often wished it would subside, for she was of the opinion since the time of her childhood that it was drought that made water delightful.
And so when the simple leaf caught her attention and threw her head-first into the surreal moment of that September afternoon, she was delighted not by the magnificence of the instant but by the elegance of its non-permanent existence. That is not to say that she wasn’t a bit disappointed when the light from the late-afternoon sun dissipated and the transient emotion of pure, unadulterated simplicity disappeared, but for an instant, she felt the thrill of being out of control. For the first time in a long time, she could be discontented and there was nothing her father’s money or her mother’s charm could do about it. To be perfectly honest, she felt a bit embarrassed that such a childish rebellion could weave its way into a moment so spectacular, but she wrote this guilt off as just another meaningless artifact of her proper upbringing and paid it no more mind.
Without a thought she stared excitedly out among the rows and rows of nearly ripe grapevines and allowed herself to become completely enraptured by the moment. She listened to the heat, to the birds, to the wind, the grapes and the dirt and much quicker than she realized, anxiety and frustration disappeared from her soul. By the time she realized that the afternoon had turned to evening, her entire being was as still as the hills she gazed upon and she remembered that the very reason she was sitting on the veranda in the first place was because of the letters. The letters that, according to her mother, simply had to be delivered by Thursday. But having just parted ways with the simple magic of the waning afternoon, she also parted ways with the letters that equated to her waning interest in the past. And so she walked from the vintage 1920′s table on her Spanish veranda out into the fields of grapevines that she had, until this point, only admired from afar. The letters and envelopes lay on the table while in the distance she hummed quietly. And it seemed it was at that point that she had learned what was truly important in life. It wasn’t fine or fancy things as her mother had said, or success and eternity as her father had taught her, but rather taking simple and innocent pleasure in transient perfection.