Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tiny Thankful Things

Today I was thinking of the "little" thankful things.

My emphasis is on the word little -- as I think the small stuff tends to get a bad rap. Not to take away from the big important stuff like health, family, friends, food and shelter, but what little teensy tiny things make up big piles of joy in your life?

Here's my teeny tiny thankful list:

1. The first cup of coffee on a cold morning.

2. The way my body hums after a 3 mile run on a dreary day.

3. Sunlight as it just begins to touch the treetops first thing in the morning.

4. When people tell me that my writing changed the way they think about things.

5. Love notes from my son.

6. The way my husband takes my hand before we enter a crowded room.

7. The miracle of my snowy white Camellias blooming in the winter when you least expect it.

8. The velvet warmth of a sultry Southern evening paired with the magic of fireflies.

9. Chocolate croissants from Trader Joe's.

10. Taking a long, steamy bath with Chris Botti's jazz playing in the background.

Now it's your turn -- what's on your teeny thankful list?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Purse Memories

It all began with the missing iPod.

I knew it was somewhere in the contents of my purse/snack bag/portable brain of mine. Out of desperation, I dumped the entire contents of my purse on the counter for total reconnaissance.

After sorting through the immense pile, I began to notice the contents were sort of bag-like-scrapbook of my life. Spread out before me was not only a pile of junky stuff, but bits of memories, funny little items and things saved for no apparent reason.

There was the pressed penny from a recent trip to the zoo. It housed the sweet memory of a summery week spent in Michigan visiting family and friends. Not just a penny, but a chance to treasure my son's viewpoint of seeing my birthplace through his eyes.

Then there was the Thomas the Train sticker. My son's reward for a trip to the doctor. The quiet comment from him saying "Mom, I'm not too old for Thomas the Train," then watching him secretly slip it into my purse out of the sight where no one would see.

A collection of leftover Tylenol Junior tablet wrappers brought the reminder of a family wedding in Florida. Upon arrival, my son developed a scary-too-high fever. Alone in a strange hotel room, all night I kept vigil with cold compresses. Watching the clock, I barely slept to stand ready to give him the next dose. I remember the miracle of the next morning, when he completely recovered, allowing us to spend a joyful day with family at the beach.

At the bottom of the purse I found tiny Lego men and strange pieces that I knew had invaded my entire home, but now like Carolina Kudzu had shown up where you least expect it. A surprise was a Moosehead beer cap. I neither drink beer nor like it, except for on extremely hot summer days. The cap must have been saved as treasure from my son and placed in my purse for safekeeping.

I thought about what the contents of my purse might say about me. If it was found by some private detective and analyzed for diagnosis, I'm sure it would come back to say something like "an extreme fetish for breath mints, weird gum, hair tools and lipgloss. Extremely jumbly - how does she find anything?"

Like an adored scrapbook, I was surprised that my purse contents told such history. The items offered sweet nostalgia from a past season of my life. Not simply a bunch of stuff in a bag, but things that told my story. I never did find my iPod in there, but I did find something even better -- treasures of times in my life worth remembering.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Little Cowboy

We are counting down the days until my son gets to unleash his "inner buckaroo."

As we make our way to the motherland of rural Michigan, we arrive just in time for the opening of deer hunting season. My 8 year-old son is completely beside himself at the idea of the great outdoors, guns and wide open spaces. It may not be PC, but it's true. The cowboy gene cannot be denied.

Part of me is glad for it. I want him to know what it's like to walk through a frosty field. To understand the silent quiet of watching the world from the hidden perch of a deer blind. To be completely enveloped in nature without the worry of getting hit by a car, stolen by child molesters or having to be perfectly-mannered at a desk.

He will walk in the footsteps behind his grandfather and his uncles, just as I did as a young girl. I can see him now, wearing oversized hunter orange gear, ambling quietly behind, studying the field's movements. As a girl, my dad and I would perch quietly in our grown-up size fort, listening to our own steady breathing, watching the grey field become ablaze with the red sunrise. After what felt like hours, we would numbly come home for hot chocolate, while my dad would fry up some corn fritters to go along with homeade maple syrup.

The simplicity of taking a walk in nature and appreciating its delicate balance is a lesson you can only learn by doing. I want him to discover memories of a time and a place that is simple. A place that doesn't require a carpool, a suburb or a commute on a highway. To appreciate that hunting was how people used to sustain themselves -- like it or not, it was the way people survived.

As a mom, I'm about as pro-NRA as the rest of the mommy club. But I want my son to know what it's like to be a part of a place that knows how to take care of basic needs. In rural Michigan, people know how to survive both with the land and from the land. There is an underlying respect of nature that can't be appreciated going down the road at 65 miles per hour. It takes a slow quiet walk in the woods. It takes a watchful eye, an appreciation for the rhythm of nature and all creatures within.