Point of View: A Pleasure Dome Decreed

The further the seasonal feeling of invasion encroaches, the more one needs a private place, away from the madding crowd

We have Danny Walsh, the golfing partner of my brother-in-law, to thank for what I’ve called “the Taj Mahal of outdoor showers.”

I say “we,” but historically I’ve been the only one to use it, logging with Jeffersonian attention each year’s first and last days. The women generally have been wary inasmuch as the one I built some years ago, using remnants of the house’s original deck and a pair of purloined swinging saloon-style doors, wasn’t sufficiently high enough — a genuine concern, I’ll admit, when the tall house next door housed innumerable tenants.

But now everything’s fine, more than fine. Solid, sweet-smelling, with a wonderful bench, and with sides high enough so that all is hidden from view. In there the other day, it occurred to us that we could, with our feet up, read our books the livelong day with no one knowing where we were.

The further the seasonal feeling of invasion encroaches, the more one needs a private place, away from the madding crowd. Already, my Facebook page — something to which I vowed I’d never yield, having consigned it to braggarts and cranks before I began to delight in photos of our grandchildren — is littered with cars twisted and crushed in bloody accidents.

It is impossible, of course, to shut out the vanity and ugliness astride in the world, though, at times, especially when I’m in the outdoor shower, under the sun and the leafed-out trees, I do my best.

The world: “Where but to think is to be full of sorrow . . . where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes. . . .” (Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale”)

“It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity: Thus could I sing & thus rejoice: but it is not so with me.” (Blake’s “The Four Zoas”)

We must be sensitive and empathetic, I agreed, when Mary and I were talking — as we often do — about the seemingly untold amount of suffering in the world, but we can’t allow our souls to be buried in it.

And with that I vanished, towel in hand.