Delights: April 1 to April 7

April 1: “What did you do today?” “We listened to a raisin.”

My friend Eileen and I spent a day at the Bon Secours Retreat Center practicing mindfulness. Our teacher invited each of us to ponder a raisin with a curious, beginner’s mind and to explore it with all of our senses. 

During three timeless minutes, I saw the raisin’s ridges and chestnut accents. I felt its textures and malleability. I smelled its gentle sweetness and heard its adamant quiet (although it emitted a tiny gasp when I squeezed it). And, biting down once, I tasted a trickle of juice; a second and third bite produced more intense flavor. I swallowed my raisin with gratitude and a little regret after three minutes in its company. For during that time, my mind cleared, my jaw relaxed and my heart rate slowed.

Our teacher read to us from a Jewish Sabbath prayer, which observed that “we walk sightless among miracles.” I have four more raisins in a little bag in my purse, awaiting a time when I will choose to slow down and experience this tiny miracle again. Or maybe I’ll keep them as a talisman to remind me to find the wonder in other tiny overlooked things.

My dear friend Anne Ryan sent me these magnificent photos from Montaña de Oro State Park along the California coast. What a glorious place and so beautifully captured by her and Nina’s cameras.

April 2: The long, long line at Rare Bird Coffee Roasters wasn’t long enough; I was reading Louise Erdrich’s new novel “The Sentence” and welcomed the extra quiet time. Eventually my book and I landed at a seat by the window, where I took mindful bites of my bacon, egg and cheese biscuit and waved to the lady from the Pho restaurant next door. 

Mostly, though, I delighted in my teapot of Anxi tea and matching cup resting on a rimmed wood tray. Over the past few months, the coffee shop had moved from pandemic-paper to ceramic mugs all the way to proper teapots. The barista told me the cups and pots had been in storage for almost a decade, and the time seemed right to bring them out again. The glaze was a tiny bit scuffed and crackled; the wood was smooth and faded from use; the cup warmed my hands; and the tea leaves released a forest-after-the-rain scent. All my senses were engaged.

Little raisin, I salute you.

More Montaña de Oro State Park. I’m awestruck. Thank you, Anne and Nina.

April 3: I am a pokey, pokey email correspondent. Perhaps part of me sits placidly in the 20th century when to-and-from letter communications took up to a week. (I almost wrote of the 19th century, but novels tell me that places like London enjoyed mail delivery twice a day and telegrams in between; too frenetic a pace for me!)

The price of delinquency, for me, is guilt and (eventually) overwhelm. The virtue of my delinquency is opening the floodgates on love. And here I speak to you, dear Commenters on this blog. 

Each Thursday I throw feathers into the breeze; some may drift away, others might prompt wonder, still others might tickle one’s nose. And a few days later, some of you write to tell me so. I am more grateful to you than I can say. I truly feel like I have new friends around the world: in New Zealand, Singapore, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Maine, in addition to you, dear friends, whom I’ve known for years.

I am blessed by such a kind and giving community. I believe that every comment you post is a thread of connection and an affirmation that I matter; every comment that I write on your blogs is an affirmation that you matter, that your creativity, love of life, wisdom and joy matter to me and to the world.

I am definitely not fishing for more comments or “likes”! I know, dear friends, that you’re there. Please know how much you mean to me. 

Another photo from Anne and Nina’s cliffside hike.

April 4: Somehow I managed to make all the wrong turns on my drive back from the elementary school where I taught “my” fifth-grade class. My woes were compounded by traffic lights, crossing guards, even a school bus releasing a dozen children within shouting distance of my house. 

I was tired, and suddenly delighted: Skipping out of the school bus, gripping her iconic stuffed red octopus, and wearing her customary smile was the “Mayor” of the class I’d just taught. From the very beginning, she made sure I knew the students’ names and the classroom customs; she helped me with dismissals and transitions; and on behalf of the class bravely asked for five more minutes of recess. (One time I said yes, but today I said no.)

I rolled down the window of my car. “Excuse me, young lady. Did you have a substitute teacher today?” She turned toward me and shouted, “Mrs. Ogle!”

Apparently, my young lady lives right up the street from me. She knows my house and the swing-set on the side yard. She knows my son Jeremiah. And now she knows me.

I think back on all those pandemic-telework days when I watched school children play in my front yard. I think I’ve watched her at 8, 9 and 10 years of age. And I think she was the subject of at least one Delight during those days when my window was my world. Now she delights me again.

(Sigh.)

April 5: I nibbled the last bits of breakfast and reached for my phone. I’d been reading an article about Scott Joplin and wanted to hear his Maple Leaf Rag. I found the song . . . and a text message from the elementary school principal: can you substitute right now for our Spanish teacher? And, by the way, you don’t need to know Spanish.

Um, I guess so. So I scrambled to pack my lunch and dash out the door, right into the enthusiastic arms of ten-year olds who knew Spanish far better than I did. But that’s ok: they have computer-based lessons, right? Nope: they’d completed those already, which meant I had five classes during which I had no choice but to:

  • teach them a little Latin (“ubi, oh, ubi est mea sub-ubi?” (Hint: “ubi” means “where”);
  • teach them a little Italian (which suddenly came flooding back); 
  • invite them to tell me about the family tree of Romance languages;
  • beg them to teach me how to say “My name is Señora Ogle” and count to 15;
  • dispatch singing groups to the hallway to practice and then dance when they serenaded me; 

And finally, in the time-honored tradition of substitute teachers everywhere, cue up the movie “Coco” and recover in time for the next grupo de niñas marvillosas.

My son Nate is a high school special ed teacher. He sent this to me today.

April 6: Jeremiah announced a new Opening Day ritual: to buy 2 or 3 packs of fresh baseball cards. He doesn’t plan to start a traditional collection or to search for rarities. Instead, he’s celebrating the day with a nod to history, which shimmers around baseball like peanut dust, beer foam and mustard. I imagine Jeremiah sustaining the tradition for seventy years — with each Opening Day recalling heroes from years past and predicting the newest stars. I salute you, Jeremiah. Let’s Play Ball!

April 7: Today I attended yoga class for the first time in a month, and I hurried to get there. I glanced at the early tulips poking through the pansies but did not stop to look. I listened to the rain teasing the puddles, but didn’t smile. I inhaled only as much as necessary to power my legs to the studio.

And then our  teacher brought us to profound and nourishing stillness. We held our warriors until we could both stretch and rest. We bent and twisted with attention to ease. And best of all, we folded onto ourselves again and again, to go inside and tap into quietude.

I’m slowly walking home now in the drizzle along the creek, where the birds call to each other and the trees stretch and rest. My breathing is deep and centering. I feel a new kind of power, because I am quiet and still at last.

The watery forest along Four Mile Run.

Readers, to receive notifications by email each time I make a post, just scroll all the way down this page (next to the “word cloud”), look to the left and click on the black button that says “Join Me!” And if you think a friend might enjoy these, please share the Delight!

If you’d like to browse my past essays, please consult the “word cloud” featured at the very bottom of this post. Find a theme or two that interests you and sift through the sands. Or learn a bit more about my Blog by visiting my Welcome page. You’ll also see links to my four published essays. I’m glad you’re here!

23 thoughts on “Delights: April 1 to April 7

  1. What a beautiful post! So many delights…especially the coffee shop visit. Gorgeous treat in the middle of my working day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you know how inspired I am by your coffee-shop dispatches! I’m glad you felt a bit of the steamy fragrant warmth from Virginia…

      Like

  2. Oh, those pictures of the flowers and the coast! Sigh is right. Made me smile to see Maine mentioned in your post. And I really enjoyed reading about how your life went from quiet contemplation to busy substitute teaching. Back and forth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aren’t those photos spectacular? I’m glad you liked them too. And I truly am delighted to be your pen pal. Your posts open my eyes to a new world (and soothe my soul), and I appreciate your insights. I did indeed have a seesaw week. And seesaws are fun, right?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, thanks so much! The feeling is definitely mutual. And, yes, seesaws are fun. Up and down, up and down. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your sentence that reads “Each Thursday I throw feathers into the breeze; some may drift away, others might prompt wonder, still others might tickle one’s nose” – what a wonderful way to describe your blogging experience. Mine is similar, although it was rather unexpected: when I started blogging it was all about the writing, an attempt to keep my brain active following retirement from work. I had not anticipated that anyone would wish to comment on my writing, and that I might enter into thoughtful – joyful, even – online relationships with some of them. Equally, I did not expect to be entranced by the stories told in the blogs of some of the people I follow, nor that I would relish so much the exchange of comments, stories and banter with some of them. Blogging has enriched my retirement in ways that I had never imagined when I began…long may the fun continue, for both you and I!

    On the subject of postal communications, I recall that as late as the 1960s we still “enjoyed” two mail deliveries a day in London, although you could not expect a letter posted in the morning to be delivered the same afternoon, as was (I believe) the case in the 19th century. Things began to fall apart when Royal Mail came up with the idea of “First Class” and “Second Class” mail – First Class was guaranteed to be delivered the next day while cheaper Second Class mail would be delivered after 72 hours. That system still continues, but almost nobody uses First Class mail any more (the price of sending a standard size First Class letter has just risen to £0.95 [=$US 1.24], so almost everyone settles for the three-day option.) Many (most?) folk rely entirely on email / text communications these days, and I’ve heard of employers complaining that some young people they employ don’t even understand the basics of how to write a “real letter”. How the world has changed, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear friend, I love both parts of your comment. You are so right: I never imagined that I would make new friends — around the world — from blogging. I, too, started blogging as writing practice; it promotes brevity and the occasional elegant phrase. (Thanks for noticing the “feather” sentence. I liked it too!) It is indeed an enriching experience! I’m so glad to hear your story and, even better, read YOUR blog!

      I really appreciated the snapshot history of postal deliveries in the UK. (My knowledge comes pretty much from Henry James short stories…) I hope you consider elaborating (or just reprinting it) in a post some day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. I think you’re right, there is a post for my own blog lurking within the comment about the history of UK mail deliveries, with a title something like “The times they are a-changing: the rise and fall of the UK postal service”. The run-up to Christmas might be a good time to do it, when postal services are at their busiest. It would also give me the chance to talk about my student days, when I used to do a few days work at the sorting office in December to earn extra beer money!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Loved the juxtaposition of so much life and peace in your week. Your descriptions of your teaching adventures bring smiles! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, dear Cindy. It was indeed a week of contrasts! I think the yin definitely enriches the yang, and vice versa. That’s something for me to thinking about….

      Like

  5. Loved your words today. I came to them, all ready to hear them after a time of prayer and reflection. When true peace is granted to us, we want to ‘achieve’ it again and again. How difficult for us to reflect and accept, rather than to ‘achieve’! Your musings speak to my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Patricia, I’m so happy to hear from you! I did spend a mixed-up week of savoring reflection and then pushing to achieve. I appreciate your comment very much. I will (gently) try to find a way to ponder “a raisin” even in the midst of extreme activity. Let achievement be about internal and external peace!

      Happy Holy Week and Easter to you, friend.

      Like

  6. April 3 resonated deeply with me. I have been feeling guilty & overwhelmed myself with the tardiness of my responses to comments left on my blogposts. After I read your entry (enchanted by your turn of phrase “I throw feathers into the breeze; some may drift away, others might prompt wonder, still others might tickle one’s nose”), touched by your openness, strengthened by your camaraderie & understanding.

    P/S I will never think of raisins in the same way again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Ju-Lyn. You could tell I wrote April 3 truly from the heart (with some vulnerability thrown in). I yearn to be gentle with myself, because I certainly want to be VERY gentle with everyone who shares their joys, insights, and longings in their comments and blog posts.

      I try to remind myself that in this loving blogging community we are all so much harder on ourselves than we are on others. So know that I’m cheering you on, no matter your pace, just as I know you are cheering on me. Grace abounds!

      And thanks for enjoying my raisins and feathers!

      Like

      1. I am so very moved … thank you for your gentleness & generosity. I feel very much understood and am so grateful to be accepted just as I am.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved this post yesterday already but now read it again. Such joy! You always sound so beautiful. 🙂 Serene, reflecting, giving, observant. I rejoiced in the views as well, amazing. And I hoped that “Italy” included me too. The starting paragraph is immediately spectacular: oh, the raisin!! And the return of the crockery! 😮 Over here it never went away. Happy Spanish-learning through teaching, and on to new delights.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Italy most definitely is you, my friend (and I should have put Slovenia too, by extension)! I’m glad you enjoyed the humble raisin and the return of our crockery, Manja. Absence certainly did heighten my appreciation! You honor me with your attention and affection.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Such a great outing and beautiful images. 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for visiting! I will gladly pass along your compliment to my friends. They tell me that I must visit those coastal cliffs. After seeing these images, I think they’re right!

      Like

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