Sometimes grey is just the right color for a day. I’m grateful for a cloudy day with scattered snow showers and mist. Wren, Topaz and I enjoyed a break from work with a mid-afternoon walk up the driveway.
Minutes after we got back inside, the dark clouds opened and snow pelted down for a few minutes, but overall only an inch or so fell here. In the mountains, though, a wealth of snow to replenish the reservoirs. I’m grateful for a cloudy day.
Another sunny day! Another lunch outside, and more hours to winterize the yarden, draining more hoses, storing plant pots, tidying garden tools. Each ‘last sunny day’ a respite before the strongly predicted storm due to arrive now in about three hours. We’ll know more later!
The aspen has lost all her leaves, but the crabapple still clings to color. I’m grateful for the small display of deciduous trees in the yard, and sometimes wish I’d planted more. I was limited by how much water I had for them, but now that they are all established maybe I can add another one… or two… in spring. A sour cherry, and a red maple, those are my dream trees.
I’m grateful for another delicious zoom cooking with Amy. I can no longer recall which of us spotted this recipe on Instagram, but Amy tracked it down so we could read it easily and then alerted me this afternoon that the salmon had to marinate for at least an hour and the rice had to be completely cooled. I got those things done just in time to get online with her for assembly and cooking, and then we sat down to enjoy our meal.
Nori squares, sushi rice, and salmon marinated in soy sauce, honey, hot sauce, ginger and some other yummies, all tucked into muffin cups and baked hot for fifteen minutes; then glazed with another delicious concoction and served hot and crispy, sweet and sour and salty, crunchy and sticky and soft. I will definitely be making these again!
Shortly after we toasted our salmon ‘muffins,’ she got a call from a friend who needed an urgent ride to the emergency vet for a badly injured dog. Amy is just the kind of friend you need in a situation like that. She didn’t bat an eye. She explained, and I said “Bye!” and ended the zoom. I’m grateful for that kind of friend whether mine or someone else’s; we all need them. And I’m grateful that you’re the kind of friend who is now worried about a dog you’ve never met, so I’m glad to tell you that though it was ghastly it was only a flesh wound, and Boone is going to be fine with some stitches and a night or two in the hospital.
One of my dear next-door neighbors came over this morning to help pick the last basket of apricots off the tree. We dropped plenty for the deer, Wren, and Biko, and left plenty pecked ones on the tree for the birds. I was grateful for help with the last basket, and she was happy to take them home. I’m grateful beyond words for the joy this amazing tree brings to me and to others, for its beauty all year long, for the history we’ve shared, and for the generosity of its harvest this year.
My friend John picked sour cherries from the tree in their garden and his partner invited me to come get some. I tried to grow a sour cherry tree once but something went wrong and it died; I haven’t tried again. I’m grateful I live where fruit thrives, markets in summer are abundant with it, and friends are generous with it. I’m grateful for sour cherries, and also sweet cherries, nectarines, peaches, apricots, apples and pears. While I’m at it, I’m grateful for the fruits that don’t grow locally, like oranges, and for the work of thousands of people growing, packing, and shipping it so that it ends up in my kitchen.
I woke this morning and thought, I’m so grateful I live here and not somewhere else, and I’m grateful I’m alive and not dead. I could have woken up anywhere besides here if any of the conditions of my life to this point had been different. I’m grateful for the work, the home, the community, family, and friends in this moment in my life. I’m grateful for the beautiful flowers that continue to carpet the forest floor in mid-June this odd, wet year. The wild onions and the sego lilies are blooming in profusion like I’ve never seen them before in thirty years.
I’m grateful to my neighbor who texted me there were some weird clouds over Mendicant Ridge this evening. I’d been outside for awhile until twenty minutes before that, and from my perch inside I couldn’t see what was happening. I jumped up and Wren followed me out to enjoy the Cloud and Light Show til sunset. Stratocumulus with virga would be my guess, but I’m going to submit it to the Cloud Appreciation Society and see if they’ll name it for us. I’m grateful for a fleeting moment of insight that everything in life is as ephemeral as clouds.
I love how tulips close up at night, and open with the sun. I was up and out early enough to catch these gorgeous tulips before they opened, and back out later to enjoy their sunny insides. Wish I could remember what variety they are, but maybe I’ll find the receipt for them one day.
I’m grateful for a full day of gratitude practice. For the nice internet repair guy who came and fixed my connection for real, finally; he said there’s still a lot of trouble since the lightning strike more than two weeks ago, but he thinks he got my system squared away. For the kind personnel at the clinic where I spent the early afternoon getting my second shingles shot (for shingles shots), and annual physical. For coming home to a good little dog who leapt and bounced for a few minutes then quickly calmed down. For a hot shower, and a talk and meditation with one of the Dalai Lama’s right hand monks, Thupten Jinpa: Connecting with Purpose & Joy in Everyday Life. For a wonderful zoom with a bunch of women exploring sustainable end-of-life options, hosted by Natural Transitions and featuring Mallory McDuff, author of Our Last Best Act discussing her reasons for and research into alternatives to standard burial.
And I’m grateful for a quiet evening savoring the sky, birdsong, and flowering trees. I got lucky with this shot of the clouds to the north, and this of the apricot sky south beyond the apricot tree.
Wren and I had quite an adventure today, and I’m glad we did because tomorrow it will probably be raining all day. And tomorrow is the day I’ve declared to be Wren’s Birthday! We don’t know exactly when she was born, but we do know she was born into her new life with me last year on April 25, and that she was allegedly two years old then. So tomorrow I’ll be grateful for one year with Wren…
Today, I’m grateful for many, many things, and perhaps chief among them is helping. After all the gratitudes of the day, late tonight I had the opportunity to help a friend in need, and that feels as good as or better than the big adventures and the sensory pleasures of the day.
We found a sad trail of beautiful feathers along the canyon rim, the drifted remains of a northern flicker. When I spotted the first feather I was delighted, a molted gift; finding the second feather I suspected foul play; at the third feather and beyond it was clear that the flicker had met its demise, and the only thing I can imagine spreading its feathers far and wide was a midair attack by a falcon or other raptor. All told we gathered a handful of feathers, and left a few below the rim.
And it was soothing to return home to the tamer pleasures of the yarden. I was also grateful to get my permanent crown, which happened to arrive at the dentist quickly and be ready to replace the broken temp, so Wren bravely stayed home alone while I dashed to town for the quick fix. I was grateful for the helping hands of the dentist and his kind and capable technician. I’ve chosen to spare you the sight of the crown in my mouth and trust you are grateful for that.
I am also grateful that I read about and ordered this nifty bug catcher-magnifier last week, so that when I went in to shower after the trip to town I was able to safely capture the scorpion who had crawled up the drain into the bathtub–and magnify her 5x–and then help her outside. This handy item is sold as a toy, but doubles as a humane tool to remove bugs from inappropriate places and return them to appropriate places, like, anywhere besides my bathtub. This is at least the fifth scorpion to climb into the bathtub this winter, which equals the total of all scorpions in the house in all the years I’ve lived here. A new normal?
I’m grateful to see Ice Canyon forming up, and to be able to walk there with my little dog. I’m grateful for the vast, tremendous sky and all that happens in it day to day, moment to moment. I’m grateful for my life just as it is on this day of giving thanks, for where I live and how, for teachers and students, for friends and community, for a sense, in this moment, of safety and ease. I’m grateful for knowing any of this can change in any moment, which inspires me to appreciate all of it every moment as much as possible.
I’m grateful for a tidy stack of wood in the shed, protected from the elements, and for the helpers who stacked it. I’m grateful for the simple meal I made for my Thanksgiving dinner, cheesy samosa puffs, and for the jar of last year’s salsa verde I pulled from the pantry to dip them in. It was a delicious early dinner.
I’m grateful for eggs, flour, sugar, cocoa, and vanilla extract, cream cheese and butter, and the knowledge to turn them into a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. It’s not exactly like the Sarah Lee cakes I grew up with, but pretty good nonetheless! I did substitute cream cheese for some of the butter in the frosting because I could and plain butter cream is too–well, buttery–for my taste. I’m grateful that two dear neighbors wanted to share their Thanksgiving dinners with me, and that I was able to share this cake with them. And so glad that I’ll have plenty of turkey, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and more to enjoy for the next few days. I’m grateful for leftovers! I’m grateful for friends. I’m grateful for the leisure and opportunity to cultivate contentment in my life.
As Wren and I were out on our afternoon walk, everything in front of us looking much the same as usual, the ground, sagebrush, trees, green mosses, and soft dry mud, I chanced to turn and look over my shoulder, and “ah, bright wings!” We followed the marvel through the woods until, as everything always does, it shifted, dispersed, dissipated. I’m so grateful for those moments when I am stopped in my tracks by looking up in wonder.
I’m grateful for the single Tabasco pepper I grew this summer, for its precious little hot peppers, and for it hanging on long enough after I potted it up and brought it inside to load up with ripe or ripening fruits. When I went to water it today I noticed an aphid infestation, and I’m grateful I had a plan for such an eventuality. Having observed in previous years that outside food plants brought in, peppers or herbs, often succumb to aphids, I was on the lookout, and had steeled myself for the necessary: I cut off all the peppers and put the plant and aphids outside to freeze gently to death; trying to control them has always failed and resulted in more houseplants becoming infested. I’m grateful I had “the strength to get up and do what needs to be done.”
Wren got to meet our new chiropractor Dr. Leigh this morning, way too early. It was 25℉ when we had to get up and I didn’t make time for coffee before we left. But it was a lovely session for me providing much relief from sciatic discomfort, and Dr. Leigh delighted in her little assistant who followed her around until settling down on her bed when she was sure everything was in order. I’m grateful she gets to go with me. I’m also grateful for gravity. I mention it sometimes when I lead a meditation, suggesting we relax into the warm embrace of gravity or something similar. As I lay on the table with sacral blocks stabilizing my off-kilter pelvis and needles in my legs and hands, I was delighted to hear Dr. Leigh say as she encouraged me to relax, “We live on a planet with gravity, might as well make the most of it.”
I’ve been wanting to photograph this mural for months, maybe years. As I drove by one time I saw the young woman artist just finishing it up but I didn’t have time to stop. I don’t get out much anymore, and don’t make time to stop when I do, but this morning town was empty as I headed home, and more importantly the new coffee shop next door to this building was empty but open, so I turned around and parked along the curb, went in and ordered a delicious vanilla latté, and made the most of being parked beside the mural. I’m grateful to live in a valley that values art, and allows artists to paint the buildings. I hope this mural will be here for decades to come.
On the way out of town I was grateful to be stopped for road construction so that I could snap this extraordinary sky both west and east. The flagmen seemed oblivious to the splendor above them, and I hope that my getting out and looking up may have influenced them and the drivers stopped behind me to also look up and enjoy the celestial view. Though we are held to earth by gravity, the clouds are not, and only succumb to it when they are heavy with rain or snow. As I drove the twenty minutes home I watched these cloud from many angles as they slowly dissipated into nothingness just as I reached my driveway.
It was a busy afternoon and evening, and when all was done all I wanted to do was sit with a bowl of popcorn and watch some TV. But not just any popcorn. An epicurious recipe had popped into my inbox the other day which I was excited to try: Maple pecan popcorn. OMG. So… simple, so delicious! It really was simple, just time consuming, and I was grateful for a clip-on candy thermometer. Pop a bunch of corn. Chop and toast some pecans. Melt butter and bring to a boil with maple syrup (real maple syrup, of course) and a pinch of salt, and let it boil for a long time (at this altitude) until it reaches 287℉ (altitude correction for 300℉), then pour over and quickly stir with the popcorn/pecans, and spread into a baking pan until it cools. Break it up into bits and pieces and enjoy! I could hardly stop eating it, but it made a LOT, and I’m grateful it keeps for up to a week–if it lasts that long.