I’m grateful for a quiet Sunday, as I often am. Life outside the house went on as usual, with the handsome buck who’s been grazing around for a few days visiting the apricot tree, sandhill cranes narrating overhead their migration south, high clouds providing light cover; magpies flocking through the yarden, and thousands of tiny lives being lived under the ground, in bark, in leaves, in trees, in grasses. Late morning Stellar gathered energy and we walked him out to his favorite tree. He lay around for awhile as I gathered seeds from marigolds, lettuce, calendula, fennel, radishes, and more, to save for late winter and spring planting. We both enjoyed time outside. When he was ready, we came back inside and went about our day, he resting and watching as I worked, wrote, laundered, tidied, cleaned, made food for us, napped beside him, did the crossword, read. I’m grateful for adapting to the flow of circumstance, dwelling deeply in the present. I’m grateful for a quiet Sunday much like any other in our years together, now winding down toward bedtime. Simple pleasures, no expectations, no regrets.
I knew it would be a good day when it started like this.
First thing after our sunrise walk was to pick squash blossoms, and a couple ripe paprika peppers. I sliced the peppers open to dry, and put the blossoms in water til I could get back in to stuff them. I’m grateful for the colors of the foods I harvest, for running water, and for the little honeypot I used as a vase.
Then the day got better! Pillsbury pop’n’fresh crescent dinner rolls are not just for dinner anymore. I love the way the spiraled tube pops open on its own at this altitude: it’s like a Christmas cracker, and it startles you when it pops open somewhere in there as you’re peeling the paper wrapper off the tube. Then, a few strategically placed chocolate chips…
So simple, so delicious! Yes, I’m attached to these sensory pleasures, all of them, but I’m aware of my attachment, and of the pleasures’ impermanence, and so I savor these quotidian delights all the more for knowing their transience: tomorrow could be an entirely different day.
Throughout the day there were more delights, ever time I stepped outside. An unexpected seedling…
… a dramatic view…
…the Best Boy Ever by my side…
…a bountiful mixed harvest…
…a second evening walk! And then back inside for supper, those squash blossoms that I stuffed when they were fresh-picked this morning, with a tiny slice of ham, chiffonade basil, and a bit of Laughing Cow cheese. I forgot to eat them for lunch, so whipped up a light batter this evening, dredged them in cornmeal, then fried in bacon grease and olive oil.
A simple dip of whisked mayo and Ume plum vinegar. I’m grateful for all the little pieces of this day, and grateful I chose to pay attention to them, rather than dwell in the land of helpless overwhelm.
Stellar and I are both grateful today for an unexpected visit from the tiny dogs and their person. He hasn’t seen his main girlfriend Popis for a very long time, and she brought her new adopted sister Phoebe Snow Reno. (Her name is too big for her body.) He was beside himself with excitement, and now he’s unwakeably asleep. But even before that interlude, we were grateful for a good walk to the canyon on an early spring morning, greening trees, flowering shrubs, birdsong, and strong enough legs. Then we were grateful for a thrilling sensory discovery when we took an untried shortcut: a mammoth Fremont holly, far taller than I and at least twenty feet across. The flash of yellow caught my attention, but then the scent arrested my footsteps. I turned immediately toward it, inhaling deeply.
After a good morning rest for Stellar, and a few hours of work for me, the tiny dogs stopped by and gave us a break from our exertions. Stellar wore himself out, utterly distracted by and unable to focus with two of them to pay attention to. It was quite the interlude.
Remarkably, after another several-hours rest while I worked, Stellar had the stamina for a third walk. As we meandered home we discovered another natural treasure, a huge, perfectly circular, claret cup cactus that we’ve never passed before, the first in bloom I’ve seen this season. I’m grateful for all these quotidian wonders in a single day, not the least of which is that this old dog keeps on ticking. Also I’m grateful that this old body I inhabit can keep up with him: we are perfectly matched in pace these days, and equally easy to please.
Stellar, Topaz and I went for a long, slow walk this morning, stepping off the beaten path onto a trail we’ve – well, I’ve – never walked on before. They may have, and certainly plenty of wild creatures who blazed it. I turned to look back, and if I hadn’t known where I was I’d have been lost: same trees, different angle, it was a new place. I love losing myself in these woods, am grateful that for all the years I’ve lived here I can still wander aimlessly, stop, and not know where I am – for at least a few seconds, and sometimes several minutes. It’s comforting to belong to something larger and more mysterious than me.
We wandered for half an hour, slower and slower. We slowed until we stopped in silence, and simply stood still. After awhile I heard a soft tap-tap high above. I looked up to see a brilliant white-breasted nuthatch looking down at us from the top of a juniper snag, his head cocked. Then he went back to tapping the dead wood for food. Eventually he flew to another tree.
Then I caught the faint but unmistakable whiff of smoke. It was too warm for anyone to have an inside fire going, and I couldn’t see the horizon for the trees surrounding us. It was time for coffee anyway, so we turned for home. I’m grateful I could text a neighbor with a view to find out that there was no obvious plume nearby. She said the sky was hazy to the west, and we assumed it was the usual clearing fields with fire or burning ditches that happens every spring. It was the first day in many that it wasn’t too windy to burn, though still exceptionally – dangerously – dry.
We continued slowly toward home on narrow deer trails rarely traversed by our ten feet (or at least my two), and suddenly found ourselves in front of the Triangle Tree. I knew when I discovered it last fall that one day I’d find it in just the right light, and here it was! From this angle, it looks like a majestic old juniper in full sun.
After spending some time savoring the Triangle Tree, we ambled on home and went straight to the pond for Stellar to drink. By then it was already 70º and he was panting heavily after his relaxing exertions. Well, I was relaxed, after waking with a head full of unruly thoughts which got swept away by the wonder of losing myself in the woods. At the pond, I was grateful to see the first northern leopard frog of this season, a big fat female in the curly rushes.
I’m grateful for quotidian, tiny surprises in any day, like this. I set the breadcrumb box there while I was cooking, to remind me to add Panko to the grocery list. Later, I saw it from the other side under the orchid blooms which matched its palette perfectly. A candid color cluster, a fleeting delight.
I’m grateful for all these tiny surprises in a single day, and that all my hopes were met today: I woke up, Stellar woke up, we ate and walked and pooped; nothing horrible happened in our little world, there were no ugly big surprises; Sun shone, hot water filled the tub, fire warmed the house, internet stayed on, we both continued to breathe and love until bedtime. May tomorrow be as great a success as today!