Orange sunflowerIm sitting on a wide, glassed-in porch that circles much of the public library a half a mile from my home. Ostensibly the purpose of my presence here is to take me away from the distractions at home so I can focus on a story proposal. But the loveliness is a distraction of its own.

From the patio beneath me, I hear voices, teenagers being playful and ridiculous, and I wonder if two of them are blushing in young love.

Above me, swaths of outdoor-strength fabric stretched between the building and the outer framing flutter and flap in performance of their duty to provide shade. Tall windows break the wind and exclude the moisture I see dangling in gray clumps over the front range of the Rockies. Trees and bushes sway. The weather is changing, as it often does on a summer afternoon.

Two women steeped in conversation walk the path through the sloping, rolling lawn behind the library. I see them circle around again and again, as I often do myself. In the park at the base of the hill, toddlers play, and their giggles mount on the wind. A man, a boy, and a dog cross the grass, pausing intermittently to play fetch. A girl wobbles on a new two-wheeler. A young woman with a sort of haircut I will never understand sits in the grass sketching.

I hear the distant thunder. I see lightning in the shoulders of the mountains. I spy the moving masses of soggy air and the shifting clouds, marshmallow white on top and charcoal underneath.

This is a beautiful day, not because of what I will get accomplished (though I do intend to finish my synopsis). As much as we might like to think we can, we do not measure beauty by productivity. We measure it in moments that make us feel something.

Breathlessness. Gratitude. Delight. Contentment.