Delights: January 7 to January 13

January 7:  At my coffee shop, a woman placed a small package on the table next to me. Wrapped in brown paper and lots of tape, it listed a bit to the side, lumpy and funny and beckoning. When her friend sat down, she pushed the package toward her. “Don’t open it yet; I want to tell you about it.”

What followed was a story about the Masai Mara of Kenya, where she bought the gift. My mind drifted to my own visit there 31 years ago. I missed the big reveal — but I enjoyed recalling what I brought back: coffee, art and lots of memories.

P.s. The gift turned out to be honey!

We stayed in a “tent” during our three-day safari in the Masai Mara. From our veranda, we could see a muddy river twenty yards away.
We were awakened each morning by hippos bellowing in the muddy river below us. We prudently stayed away, especially after reading in the newspaper that hippos were more dangerous to humans than lions.

January 8: Back on Christmas Eve, I had thumbed ruefully through our Christmas books, aching for my favorite — the one I usually borrow from the church library, but couldn’t these past two years. I sighed aloud to the boys, and then happily read “Carl’s Christmas” instead. 

Today, a package arrived at the house for my son Nate. He swung by to collect it and then handed it to me. “My last Christmas present for you.” Baffled, I opened up the box. Inside lay “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey,” by Susan Wojciechowski, with illustrations by P.J. Lynch. It’s a story of gentle kindnesses, and it’s my favorite. I’ll tuck it away with our other Christmas books, but not before I read the book again to myself and savor the gentle kindness that brought it here.

January 9: Ernie Von Dog arrived on the doorstep of my friend Jennifer when a stranger, seeing Jennifer’s son Doug playing in the front yard, shooed the puppy out of her car and drove off. Jennifer and her family adopted the pup. Doug and Ernie were inseparable until, as a young adult, Doug had to leave Ernie behind with his mom and dad. Ernie lived a long happy life and was eventually buried on Doug’s farm. Before filling the grave, Doug tossed in the ponytail he’d worn years before, when he and Ernie frolicked together.

January 10: Tonight, Jeremiah and I finished watching “Get Back,” the documentary about the Beatles writing and recording songs for their final two albums. We knew the film culminated in the Beatles’ famous rooftop concert, and we watched enthusiastically as the Beatles performed — and crowds (and Bobbies) gathered. When the film was over (please don’t leave us!), Jeremiah said, “I bet half the people watching this documentary now want to go out and start a band.” Maybe. And the rest of us reached for our old Beatles albums and retraced that Long and Winding Road.

January 11: I’m reading a charming audio book called “The Giver of Stars” by JoJo Moyes. Set amid the coal mines of Depression-era Kentucky, it builds a story around real-life women who delivered library books by horse or mule to families scattered across the hollers. One character, named Alice, is a young English woman imbued by the narrator with a charming accent — the same accent as the voice of my new headphones (another Christmas present). “You headset is connected,” my headphones purr — and then my electronic Alice invites me to get lost in a book too.

January 12: I opened the gate to our backyard to retrieve a shovel for extra snow removal. Passing through our garden, I startled a family of deer resting in our neighbor’s yard just a short distance away. They jumped to their feet and gazed at me. I retrieved the shovel, whacked at an annoying boulder, and then returned to the backyard. The deer still stood there. Our eyes met as I shut the gate. Behind me I heard the rustling of shrubs. I hope they settled in for the rest of their afternoon nap.

My deer wouldn’t be as calm around this snoozing Kenyan cat.

January 13: During our breath work at yoga today, our teacher talked about finding the right amount of ease and effort and seeking to balance them. I lingered over her phrase “the right amount,” because it honors those times when balance requires a lot of effort and just a little ease. And it also honors the opposite, when repose is the weightiest thing.

She ended our class with a poem by Samantha Reynolds from her blog Bentlily, which makes this point beautifully. She reminds us that “Balance is found/not in a day,/but in a life.” Here are the last few lines of her poem “The Myth of Finding Balance”:

My dream is that we can all
be like the sea,

nobody rushing us
when we’re calm

and nobody telling us
to slow down
when we are inspired
to rise up and pound
another frothy chapter
on the shore.

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15 thoughts on “Delights: January 7 to January 13

  1. Today, Friday, is the last day of my summer vacation – back to work on Monday. Reading your post brought a smile to my face, and I love that poem, and I thought to myself, I still have the two days of the weekend, and will only be at work for two days before I have my usual Wednesday off. Thank you for putting a perspective on things through your post.

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    1. I appreciate you saying that. I, too, especially like the line “nobody rushing us when we’re calm.” I hope you enjoy the serenity of your quiet time remaining and the anticipation of quiet (and busy) times to come.

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  2. Ahh!! What a glorious poem, and entire post. But really… that sea. Nobody tells it to be anything at all. ❤

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    1. That is so wise. It does what a sea does, and how we admire it in all conditions. You’re right: that’s something else for me to think about. I’m grateful to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The story of Ernie Von Dog brought tears to my eyes, a moving example of how cruel we are and yet how generous we are, too. I, too, love Christmas stories. Have you ever read “The Story of Holly and Ivy” by Rumer Godden? One of my favorites.

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    1. Thank you, Laurie, for celebrating Ernie Von Dog. I’ll be sure to tell my friend Jennifer. She will agree with both your observations.

      Thank you also for telling me about your favorite Christmas book. I’ll make a note to look for it in December!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am very taken by your encounter with Snow, Shovel, Boulder & Deer. Not words which I use on a daily basis nor things I encounter very often at all. My favourite character in this tale: the annoying boulder.

    Sought out the poem your yoga teacher read to you … the line that will follow me today: happiness … is a rhythm – where will I find its beat today?

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    1. Thank you, Ju-Lyn, for highlighting the boulder. You read my mind — I was tempted to build a bigger story around him!

      Thank you also for highlighting that beautiful line in Reynolds’ poem. I will carry it with me too.

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      1. After finding said poem, I looked for Samantha Reynolds’ other work and found her on Instagram – what a treasure trove! I shared her Little Stitches poem with my Marriage Encounter community as it captured the treasured couple moments we parents snatch in our busy day.

        P/S I chanced upon the tribute to you in the Yale Journal on Regulation. I say “chanced” but I actually googled you as I just wanted to quote & credit you properly in my coming weekend post. I learned some about The Professional You during your retirement reflections, and still my jaw dropped while I was reading this article. You have done so much, Carol Ann. in the realm of public service – I am yet again, in awe.

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  5. Hello Carol Ann, I am thoroughly loving these photos and stories! 😀 A gift of honey is so sweet. This post made me go down my South African memories, photos and was reminded how the visit influenced my home decor. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Denise! What a pleasure to hear from you. I hope all is well. I love your comment — it’s an honor to prompt your memories of life in South Africa. I’d love to see photos of your decor!

      I traveled to Kenya in 1991 for work. Isn’t that amazing? I went to Nairobi to attend a UNEP negotiation and jaunted to the Masai Mara over a weekend. What a memorable experience. And how lucky for you to have so many more memories.

      Thank you for finding my blog. I hope we stay in touch.

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