400 words a day: Evening Ritual

I read somewhere the other day that a writer should implement a practice of writing 400 words a day. Just to keep the word-crafting muscles warm. I thought I’d give it a go. I might not, scratch that, I won’t share my 400 words here everyday, lest these pages read, “Yada yada yada…” 397 more times. But tonight, the 400 words felt like something worth sharing.

Photo by Gaspar Zaldo on Pexels.com

I have this ritual every evening where I drive home from work listening to poems or books on Audible or some podcast. Never, almost never, music. And I pull in the driveway unconscious of how I got there. I grab my bag and trash from the fast food breakfast I had on the way to work and head to the front door. 

From almost the first moment out the car door I feel alive for the first time all day. The sounds of chickens cock-a-doodle-dooing, doves cooing, owls whooing, mocking birds tweeting, chirping and squawking, the caw of the peacocks down the street and the whoosh and swish and whispers of the wind in the trees… it’s like a symphony of evening. And I can exhale. 

But a strange shift happens as soon as I walk in my front door. It’s warm and not in a cozy way, but in a someone-open-a-door-and-let-some-fresh-air-in-here way. There’s dirty dishes on the counter. Shirts and sweaters and hats thrown on the kitchen table. Pieces of frozen dinner boxes that missed the trash on the ground and dog hair pooling in the corners. There’s a pile of laundry from the weekend, unfolded on the couch, some fallen to the floor from a hurried digger looking for that one missing sock before work. 

So I call the dog, grab the leash, and happily walk right back out the door again. Its another world. Its Narnia. Its magic. The sky is pale blue, grey, lavender and pink. The moon is full and bright and yellow. The wind is blowing strong enough to make me zip up my sweater. And I’m off. Down the road almost as eager as my shepherd to breath and take in the order, the beauty, the symphony, the calm. 

The shepherd isn’t calm though, he’s a pent up ball of excitement, sniffing out every gust of breeze, tail wagging, feet prancing along. Longing to find that spot he found yesterday or last week, where he marked his place on the street and danced on by while the neighbor’s dogs ran up and down the fence line egging him on with their growls and aggressive barks. We just keep walking though. Keep seeing how far these legs will take us into unwinding and releasing the tension of the day into the air, and the ground, and through observation and inhalation and sniffing.

When we turn the corner to head home, on our typical route, its almost disappointing. It’s not that I don’t want to go home, it’s just that I know once I get there, there’s more work to do. And so this evening ritual is more of a daily sabbath.