It’s that first whiff as a wave of wood smoke wafts by your nose. It’s the lawn chairs pulled out from the back of the garage, now waiting on the patio. It’s the surprising warmth of the sun in the late afternoon. It’s the pile of brush heaped into the portable firepit, spitting sparks and sinking into coals and ash. It’s all of this that draws me outdoors, out into the fresh spring air.
That’s when the bag of marshmallows emerges, and last summer’s marshmallow sticks are pulled from their hiding place. The stick ends are whittled clean, and the familiar ritual begins. Bundled against the chilling breeze, we lean into the warmth of the fire as we meditatively twirl our marshmallows over the hot coals. Smoke tendrils spiral upwards as the white-coated sweets turn brown and pocked with heat. I lift the perfectly toasted marshmallow to my mouth. Mmm.
Photo taken on April 10, 2011
Wait a minute. Yes yes, of course you’re busy, there’s much to do, but you can afford one minute. OK, take a deep breath and let it out again slowly. Let your shoulders relax. Now, I know it’s less than three weeks to Christmas, but picture each day as a separate event instead of letting them all run together. Then imagine that each day on the calendar has a door that you can open ahead of time and peak inside.
Before you look, think first about what you would like to find behind tomorrow’s door. It might be something as simple as enjoying a cup of tea while the smell of baking cookies wafts from the oven. Or the single perfect snowflake that falls on your sleeve when you are walking to work. Or throwing the ball high in the air, watching the dogs quiver with anticipation and seeing, for a split second, time suspended.
Now imagine what you would like to find when you open the next door, and the next. Think of things you can look forward to over the next three weeks. Think of this as your Advent calendar, full of little gifts and small joys waiting to surprise you each day. The things you aren’t looking forward to will happen the way they always do, of course, and then they will disappear into the past just like everything else you once worried about. But if you don’t stop, now, and deliberately anticipate some of the good things that might happen, you might miss them entirely.
Photo taken on November 24, 2010
I’ve been flitting about like a moth today, touching on half-a-dozen projects that need to be completed, bouncing between one task and another. There is so much to do that I’m having trouble settling on one thing.
There is music to practice for next week’s choir concert, my annual calendars I’ve resolved to actually get printed this year, photographs that need to be processed, and I’d really like to bake some bread. I have two unfinished sweaters that will not be knitted in time for Christmas (again!) and a cushion cover that is still waiting to be completed weeks after the sewing machine returned from the repair shop. Starting projects is always so much easier than finishing them!
Yesterday I went on a daytrip with my parents, driving across the U.S. border for a little light shopping in Calais. It was a wonderful escape, but today I feel the clock ticking. With Christmas now officially on the calendar (ack), I need to prioritize, organize, energize. I need to settle in, settle down, settle on one thing… and hopefully the rest will follow!
Photo taken on November 20, 2009
Every now and then, something ordinary will catch your eye. You will stop and lean down for a closer look, and you will say: Wow, look at this spiderweb! Yet you’ll know that the spider has been building this web across the corner of the front porch for a days or even a couple of weeks. But you didn’t notice it — really notice it — until today. Because today the sun was shining when you walked out the front door. Today when you went to work you didn’t have something else on your mind. Today there were water droplets strung like pearls on the delicate threads, and the sunlight caught them just so, making them glitter like tiny diamonds. Today something ordinary became extraordinary, a gift for you to enjoy.
Taken on August 10, 2010