Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Small Joys

My Facebook and emails overwhelm me with multiple petitions to sign – save the elephants, no to Environmental Protection Agency budget and staff cuts, investigate Trump’s ties with Russia – and I sign them all. I’d vowed to cut my addition to Face book “news” and to CNN, but I haven’t been very successful. Quite honestly, I haven’t tried. Today I miss Wolf Blitzer only because I forget that last Saturday the U.S. went on daylight savings time, so all the programs are an hour later for us in Chile.
            Buried amidst the repetitious posts and emails on the U.S. administration’s latest gaffs and lies, I discover some gems: a video interview with Neil de Grass Tyson, astrophysicist, a new acquaintance of mine. He expressed so eloquently the philosophy of life that I hold to now in my seventieth decade: Knowing that he’ll die creates the focus that he brings to being alive. He speaks of the urgency of accomplishments and the need to express love NOW.
            Reconfirming and expanding on these weighty thoughts are quotes from writers I find in Maria Popova’s Brainpickings newsletter. Two more gems are from Annie Dillard: “How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives.” And on a post-it stuck to my computer screen you will find: “Life consists of what a man is thinking of all day.” Then there are words from Hermann Hesse praising life’s small joys. He asserts that the most available and most overlooked of small joys is our everyday contact with nature. Oh yes.
Brainpickings is addictive. One article links me to another which connects me to a book or an author. I stop to look at an illustration by Maurice Sendak in Ruth Krauss’ book Open House for Butterflies of a small boy sitting by a stream with the caption: “Everybody should be quiet near a stream and listen.” Something I do whenever I can, but not often enough. Streams are not readily available to the big city dweller.
Speaking of city dwellers, writer and photographer Bill Hayes comments on life in New York City, saying he makes a point of waving or nodding hello whenever he can. “…kindness”, he says, “is repaid in unexpected ways….”

My city garden offers me many small joys. This summer I’ve been watching closely the progress of my four potted heirloom tomato plants. I’m learning as I go. Because they are potted, the plants are not very big. I resort to Google to find out why their leaves have curled. Too hot? Too much water? One has several tomatoes, slightly larger than golf balls. We ate the first two to ripen. Absolutely divine. Definitely worth the effort. And the scent of their leaves – heavenly.

More garden events: at summer’s end the apricot leaves are turning lemony yellow and falling to the ground; the abundant avocados grow steadily; the nasturtium leaves are infested with little green voracious caterpillars, the result of eggs laid by white butterflies; two azalea bushes have their first blooms; the camellia is covered with buds, promising winter color.
Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.

                                                                                   John Muir

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