January 15: I’m very fond of my neighbor. We do little favors for each other, and we chat when we meet on our walks. Even so, we see each other only rarely, and I’ve taken to bringing her daily paper to her doorstep. “You don’t need to do that,” she’s reminded me. I know, I replied. It’s just my way to say I’m thinking about you. And so, this morning, I am.
January 16: Early morning, in the golden field outside my house, I glimpsed a baby gorilla wander into view holding a basketball. It sat down and shot toward a basket outside the window frame. The ball bounced back a bit closer and the gorilla stood, grabbed the ball, seated itself and shot again. Another miss, another attempt. This time the ball didn’t come back. Another gorilla came into view and, embracing the baby, led it away. I was charmed: I’d found my Delight. Waking moments later, I thought, Why not?
January 17: Jeremiah was laughing and incredulous: “Are you kidding? They taught you that song in grammar school?! I can just see you in a school assembly, Mom, warbling in your cute little voices, What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor, Early in the Morning?”
January 18: When I signed up to help the Anacostia Riverkeeper clear trash from Pope Branch, I expected winter chill, food wrappers, and the pleasure of doing good. All three enthusiastically appeared along with a few surprises: a raccoon skull with one fang, a bit of abandoned railroad track and — in stooping, scooping, bagging companionship — a circus performer. She teaches trapeze at the moment. “We can’t get too close now,” she said, “so they have to fail a little more on their own.” Reach, fall and bounce. And we did a good job cleaning our bit of bramble.
January 19: A colleague described the cheery sound of birds outside his window. “We put suet out there,” he said. “The feeder has become my cat’s Netflix.”
January 20: In theory, dismantling our Christmas village should be a sad endeavor. In fact, I relish the slow process of wiping each fleck of dust; I turn the houses in my hand and savor the charming details I overlook amid the excitement of setting it up. Of course Hatly Hall (“Dormitory for Elves”) would have a rack for skis, a bench for perching, a sack of laundry, and a jingle bell or two. Sometimes I think if we left the village up forever we would miss its secret charms.
January 20 (bonus): With the rest of the country, and perhaps the world, I was delighted — moved — inspired by the poetic gifts of our country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman. Her poem “The Hill We Climb” beautifully enriched the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris. Poised and shining in a canary yellow coat and the red turban and cross-hatched braids of a queen, Ms. Gorman prophesied: We will rise; we will rebuild. We will recover and reconcile. And she reminded us:
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it
January 21: A promising light this morning slipped through our drawn blinds. I peeked and saw a spectacular sunrise, right there, beyond my pillow. I ran to the door, ran back for my flip flops, and then plunged into the cold to see this. Perhaps I should have stayed warm and watching from my window, so as not to miss the brilliance yielding so quickly to ordinary light. Yet being in it, bare toed and bed tousled, allowed me to fling my arms wide in joy.
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