Enjoying Life’s Little Pleasures

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I have been pondering the little things in life that give me pleasure. Perhaps spending more than a year at home helped foster this introspection. Or maybe it is knowing my remaining number of trips around the sun dwindle inexorably. The days pass too quickly, so I am trying hard to appreciate each day, to enjoy every sandwich. (And I do love sandwiches.)

  • After the fierce winter storm froze our world in mid-February, dozens of mature azalea bushes in our yard looked like goners. Most of their leaves turned brown and fell off. I tried to imagine how our yard would look without these azaleas. Bereft. Barren. But as spring arrived, the azaleas began their comeback. Horticulturists advised doing nothing, not panicking, so I didn’t. A few folks in the neighborhood weren’t patient and hired landscapers to come in with tractors and chains to yank out their azaleas, replaced with puny specimens. One can’t buy mature azaleas.

When blossom season arrived in April, most of our azaleas had recovered and burst forth with blooms. Still, a dozen or so remained barren. We continued to wait. Finally, tiny leaves began sprouting along the bare branches of most of the azaleas. They are returning to life. Watching them return from near-death gives me joy. I don’t plan on pruning any of the azaleas until July, figuring if leaves haven’t popped up by then, it is time to perform selective surgery.

  • Sleeping critters provide joy. We are Primary Food Sources for two dogs — Mollie and Rosie — and two cats — Tater and Tot. Many days, when I get up to stretch after sitting at the computer for a few hours, I peer into the living room below in our split-level house. Likely as not, this quartet of critters are curled up in various spots. Tot likes to curl up in a ladder-back chair by the window on a blanket provided for his comfort by my Beautiful Mystery Companion. Tater enjoys the window seat cushion, while Rosie is sleeping upside down, paws in the air, on the worn leather couch and Mollie is sacked out in my BMC’s rocker, also covered with a blanket. She’s the puppy of the brood and prefers sleeping with one of her gazillion chew toys. They crack me up, this useless but lovable group of furballs.
  • Feeling a breeze waft through our house on these temperate spring days, with all the windows open. Last year, I finally found someone who custom-made screens. Most of the window screens were missing when we bought the house nine years ago. Our house is a contemporary design, with large fixed picture windows and small sliding windows below. When they’re all open, the breeze brings in the scents of spring. Mollie the Maltese enjoys lying stretched out in the window sill, watching the squirrels trying to steal the bird seed.
  • Speaking of birds, those open windows allow me to hear the birds chirping outside, speaking a language only they understand. The cardinals are especially vocal, so much so that a visitor the other day asked if those were actual birds chirping, or were we playing some type of nature soundtrack. Nope, those birdcalls were the real deal. I just finished reading The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman, an extraordinary science writer who recounts the wonders of avian intelligence. Researchers worldwide are discovering how remarkably intelligent birds of all types are, in some cases rivaling primates and even humans in their brilliance. It is a wonderful book, and I recommend it highly.
  • This is not a complete list of small things that provide joy, but I’ll end with taking pleasure in reading in our gazebo while a gentle rain is falling, the wireless speaker playing NPR, a ceiling fan stirring the breeze, a cat curled up at my feet. It is a peaceful, easy feeling, as the song goes. And lately, it rains every afternoon, not that I’m complaining.

I hope you can take pleasure in little things as well.

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