With the deadline for my next book only three months away, I’ve been taking my laptop down to the gazebo to work. What the gazebo has: full screens, a ceiling fan, comfortable chairs, an adjustable table, and a plug for the battery charger.
What the gazebo does not have: a telephone, a doorbell, and that biggest distraction of all—access to the Internet.
You know how it goes, right? You’re just going to do a quick check for mail? Believe me, there’s no quick way to get in and out of your mailboxes. Or you only intend to look up a single fact and the next thing you know, you’re six links deeper in, totally off subject, and nearly an hour has gone by. In the gazebo, I type “CHECK ON THIS” in all caps and keep going.
This is not to say the gazebo has no distractions. We have posted signs to keep out hunters and the four-wheelers that tear up our walking paths, but that doesn’t deter the trespassers who can’t read and who ignore our signs.
Yesterday, I watched a doe munch her way through the lower meadow, followed by an adolescent fawn. Twenty minutes later, two more whitetails bounded across like two women who’ve just heard there’s a sale on their favorite shoes.
A magnificent red-tail hawk perched atop one of the bluebird boxes to watch for careless voles, much to the discomfort of the wary bluebird parents who have babies inside that box. As soon as the hawk flew off, I watched through binoculars as both adults swooped in with beaks full of bugs.
Later in the morning, I saw a young buck emerge from the tree line. He was so newly antlered that they looked like two question marks between his ears and they were still covered with “velvet.” I watched him meander along a line of cedar trees until he disappeared into a thicket of wild plums that are just starting to ripen.
When I put down the binoculars and turned back to the screen, I realized that I’d wasted a good twenty minutes watching Bambi.
I worked steadily for another hour till I leaned back in my chair to decide what should come next. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something moving along a nearby path and I sat motionless as a fox passed only fifteen feet away. I hoped he wasn’t on the trail of a rabbit I saw there yesterday.
Back to the keyboard for another half-hour until a trio of raucous crows suddenly erupted in the pine tops. They’d just spotted the hawk and had no intention of letting him linger near their nests. I watched until they’ve driven him out of the area, then my binoculars caught the circling flight of buzzard. So graceful. He could hang there forever, floating on the thermals that eventually took him out of my view. Another twenty minutes gone.