Andrea here, inspired by Anne’s recent post on “Simple Pleasures” I, too, have been thinking more about the small things in my everyday life that make me stop and smile, and appreciate my blessings.
I have a daily ritual of taking a long walk, usually in the late afternoon. I call it my plotting walk, as I use it to think about the pages I’ve written that day . . . and how to untangle any kinks that crept into the story or character development. It’s something I really look forward to, not only for story aspects, but because it’s also—quite literally—a breath of fresh air. After sitting in my writing room for hours, it resets my perspective. I’m a very visual person, and there is so much outdoors that catches my eye and reminds me of all the little unexpected beauties in the “ordinary.”
For me that’s become more important than ever. When I sit down first thing in the morning with my cup of coffee to look at the newspaper, it’s a bit overwhelming and discouraging to see how fraught things are. I’ve decided that to counter the gloom and doom, it’s important to stay positive and remind myself that there is Light all around us as well as Darkness. We just have to make the effort to see it.
I have two regulars routes for my walk. One loops around from my house down a quiet, wooded country lane to a village enclave of old houses—some from the 1700s— that cluster around harbor on Long Island Sound. It winds back past my local landmark library, a distinctive stone building with turrets and a red-tile roof. The second, which I use throughout the summer, meanders through a 100-year-old golf course with tidal marshes that juts out into Long Island Sound.
They have both become very familiar to me, and I’ve come to know all the little changes that happen throughout the seasons. So I thought I would share—both in words and in photos—some of the many joys I get as I take my daily walk. It can be sunny and warm, or cloudy and cold, but I always come home feeling that my spirits have been lifted. There is always some little thing that catches my eye (I always have my i-phone camera ready, and amuse myself by stopping to capture it in digital pixels.)
When the leaves unfurl in spring, I’m always amazed at all the different shapes and hues and sizes. (I particularly like the heart-shaped one I found.) Flowers are also a joy to see burst into bloom. There are a number of picket fences around the harbor that are clearly tended by avid gardeners. One of them has the most gorgeous array of roses, twined in with a cheerful array of other vine-like blooms. (They look even more lovely after a passing summer shower.)
It’s fun to watch the cycle of their growth—the buds, the richness of full bloom and then the quiet fading of the petals. The changes make each moment special. Autumn brings its own unique beauty with the colors and patterns of falling fall. And in winter, there is a wonderful abstract artistry to the bare trees, and the chill air gives the sunsets sharper, richer color.
The walk on the golf course is all about light and the wildlife. There are a wonderful assortment of birds, and I’ve come to know a number of them. A pair of swans lives in one lagoon, and watching their hatchlings grow from ugly ducklings into graceful snowy white adults is very special. Loons gravitats to one of the larger ponds. I love watching them dive and then pop up in another section of the water.
Great grey herons and egrets hunt in the reeds and grasses growing at the water’s edge. Osprey and seagulls fly overhead. Last year was a thrill because a pair of bald eagles nested nearby. Seeing those magnificent raptors soaring overhead always takes my breath away.
Deer wander the course. A highlight of last summer was rounding a stand of tall reeds and coming upon two fawns that couldn’t have been more than a day or two old. A while back there was a family of foxes by the first hole. The kits came out at twilight and played in the sand traps! It was hilarious to watch them slide around.
And then there is the sunlight, and how it plays on the water and through the clouds. The infinite range of colors in the sky as day gives way to night is truly amazing. I never cease to be awed by the beauty of nature.
I feel very fortunate that these simple joys lift my spirits. For me, a daily walk really does help dispel the stresses and worries that can ties us into knots. What about you? Do you have a daily ritual, or some regular activity that helps you stay positive and upbeat?