I played cards last night with some old friends, old in the sense of long-time friends and old because they, like me, are well past sixty.

This is a game we play almost weekly in the fall, winter, and spring. In summer we are too busy to find a single night on which we are all available. In spite of how many distractions the warm season offers, I have missed these evenings with friends.

I am coming to understand, firsthand, the narrowing of life that comes with age. Before you start to feel sorry for me, or worse, to call me out for being maudlin, this is not a complaint. When one’s focus narrows it can also go deeper. There is nothing to be pitied in a 30-year friendship.

Making friends has never come easily for me and keeping friends is hard work. Fortunately, I don’t mind a bit of effort, especially when the rewards are great. So I make the calls and send the emails, and now that we are all getting used to the latest blow to our mortality, will soon begin again to invite people to celebrate together in real time and space.

If the parties I throw this fall are like those held in the before times, they will not be rowdy, drunken bacchanals. If they are to be as I wish, they will be gatherings of conversation and maybe some homemade music, good food, stories, and laughter.

Later today I will pick the City Mouse up at the bus terminal and tomorrow we will drive to Bangor to see Sting in concert. As much as it annoys me, the social platform I call “Faceboss” came through for me this week, showing me the advertisement that led to this event.

Sting is on my list of still-living performers who I would travel some distance to see, and here he is, coming to Maine, a pit-stop on the way to his tour of northern Europe.

Like my life, this list of still-living performers is not all that broad but does run deep. Most of the people on it are also old: Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, and Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, David Bromberg, Joni Mitchell, and Arlo Guthrie. The first three finally seen after decades of listening to LPs and tapes, the last two part of my misspent youth, at a Newport Folk Festival in 1969. I have had the joy of being in the audience for the two in the middle, more times than I can easily count. Eric Clapton remains to be seen and heard.

These are artists whose music sustains me and whose poetry echoes inside my soul. Strangers who speak to my heart. I am grateful to be sharing the planet with them. What could be better than witnessing their creative genius live and in the company of someone I have known and loved since I was young?

Some people I know have more friends than they can handle. They rush from activity to engagement, needing a hammer and wedge to create space for another social interaction. Others seem to survive quite nicely without very much human interaction at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I can get socially overwhelmed. When the City Mouse comes to visit, all sorts of friends I haven’t seen in months come out of hiding to see him. Our time together is precious, requiring long-distance travel and the setting aside of other engagements. The pace of friendship changes when it involves the coordination of multiple schedules. I am occasionally grasped by jealousy.

The quiet brunch I envisioned turns into a party, impromptu plans become exercises in patience. Hoped-for gatherings fall apart.

The closing-in of winter is not to be feared. As geese gather in the fields to fill up on roots and worms, the days shorten and I remember that life is not always a race from one event to another. The maples outside my windows are turning gold. Soon the sounds of constant traffic will be muffled by closed windows.

But tomorrow I will sit on a warm still night under the full moon and listen to one of the great voices of my time. Poetry, music, and rhythm by the powerful waters of the Penobscot with thousands of strangers and one dear old friend. All the rest can wait.

Shlomit Auciello is a writer, photographer, and human ecologist who has lived in Midcoast Maine since 1988. Letter From Away has appeared online and in print, on and off since 1992, and is published here on a weekly basis.