Music has been a part of my life since early childhood. (See here for precious music memories.) Piano is my instrument of choice, but due to frequent moves, coupled with the cumbersome size and weight of our piano, it sits in storage as I write this. Pictured above however, is my collection of folk instruments acquired–and played–through the years. The drum is thunderous! But there are times when I just want to be loud and feel the reverberations through my body as I beat the drum to an even rhythm. The flute, with it’s snake head, was crafted for me by a Cherokee story-teller and flautist, a gift from my son. The rattle, made from a turtle shell that was found in a field that was once prairie land, is filled with dry seeds and makes a beautiful sound. The bowed psaltery was a gift when I left my position as executive director of a women’s center to go to grad school (first masters). The wonderful thing about these instruments is that I can take them–any one of them, or all–wherever I go without too much hassle. I love music of all kinds, from classical to blue grass, klezmer to rock-n-roll, I can listen to whatever suits the mood in the moment. Music enriches one’s life, tells stories, evokes emotions, stirs passions, is a call to arms (what would the Civil Rights Movement be without music?). I love music, and I am grateful for all kinds of music!
Every morning I awake to a cacophony of birds tweeting back and forth just outside my bedroom window. The large holly tree attracts birds of all kinds in droves. The birds’ chirping make for a delightful alarm clock for me. During the winter (when this photo was taken) the berries must be some sort of delicacy because there will be hundreds of birds (literally) in the tree flitting about and denuding branches of these bright red morsels. Robins and Waxwings are the birds I see at that time of year. This spring I have seen numerous Morning Doves along with gorgeous Cardinals. When the day comes that I have a yard of my own, I will surely put up a bird feeder near a window where I can watch and listen. I am grateful for birds of all kinds.
Vacations are a necessity of life. Without them we run the risk of becoming stagnant. Vacations stimulate creativity and well-being. We all need time away from the routines and drama of everyday life, time to rejuvenate, to see with new eyes, to relax, unwind and reflect, time to play. . . time. Sadly, the U.S.A. is one of the worst nations/cultures to take time off. People who make it a point to vacation recognize its importance. This is a mental health issue! Our family vacationed every summer for two or three weeks. My fondest childhood memories are of vacations to various parts of the country. Richard and I love our vacations, but sadly don’t take them very often. Here we are in Vermont at the Ben and Jerry’s factory, on our way home from Montreal, Canada. It was a glorious vacation even though taken in winter (Richard’s favorite time of year.) I am ever so grateful for vacations!
Butterflies flitting through summer blooms have always mesmerized me. I can spend hours watching them as the flutter about totally oblivious to the passing of time. If one ponders the metamorphosis from the plain, even ugly, caterpillar into a creature of delicate and colorful beauty, the butterfly becomes even more amazing. Butterflies are the perfect metaphor for life. We are tooling through our days without much concern when suddenly we hit a bump–or even a crater!–and then we are forced into a cocoon of sorrow, pain, suffering, doubt, whatever the case may be, only to emerge having metamorphosed into a butterfly ourselves. Romantic vision? Yes. But romance is not all bad. In this case the butterfly is a symbol of hope, renewed life, delicate as it may be. I’ve been through a few of those experiences in my lifetime, and only when I have emerged as a butterfly am I able to appreciate the journey that got me here. I am grateful for butterflies!
We are getting into the warm-soon-to-be-hot time of the year. Last night Richard and I walked to the grocery store, and even though we are still in the spring of the year, our walk back to the apartment was rather warm and we walked at a fast clip. Some of our items needed refrigeration to keep from spoiling; time to start using the insulated grocery bags, especially if we plan to continue walking to and from the grocery mart! Back at the apartment, as I was loading food into the fridge, I wondered what people did before these marvelous inventions became a necessity in our lives. The frost-free fridges are all we see anymore. Before that we had the self-defrosting, before that we had to defrost the thing ourselves from time to time (a task I remember from my childhood.) An older generation remembers the ice man delivering ice for the ice box, and before that were the cellars where food was kept cool. When I think of what “use to be,” I am thankful for the modern convenience that refrigeration provides. Therefore, I am ever so grateful for refrigerators!
What can one say about parents? Through the years my parents have been kind and generous. They have also been mean and “self-centered.” They have been wise and understanding. I remember some foolish times, and instances where they “just don’t understand,” too. They have been fun and entertaining, AND boring and “an embarrassment.” Parents! Through the years they have been sooooo many things to me and my siblings. Through all the stages of our growth and development however, Mom and Dad were the constants in our lives. Their love and stability carried my brothers and me through some rough times. No matter what was going on, Mom and Dad were always rooting for us, and their’s is the home we call our own. Mom and Dad loved us unconditionally, regardless of how we felt about them. (Adolescence was the worst! Thankfully we all survived.) Now that I have reached the status of “senior citizen” by some folks’ definition (a title I am glad to use when it means a discount on tickets or whatever) and have raised my own children, Mom, Dad and I have grown to the point of a special friendship and bond that only parents and children can have. . .if they are lucky. I consider myself one of the lucky ones! G-d willing, Mom and Dad will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in November. I am immensely grateful for my parents.
When thinking about those things in life for which I am thankful, sometimes the most obvious are the things most overlooked. For instance, water. For those of us who have running hot and cold water in our homes, or bottled water within arm’s reach, or lakes and rivers and pools to play in, it is easy to take water for granted. Years ago I had the privilege of spending a few weeks in Nicaragua where water was in short supply. I was amazed at the many ways the Nicaraguan people found to conserve water. From washing clothes to taking showers to cooking, every activity that involved water was thought out. No one wasted water the way we do here in the US. I forget the lessons I learned in this small, Central American country, but when I think of water and gratitude, I am humbled because I remember Nica and I know how much we take this essential life-sustaining resource for granted. I am most grateful for water.
Jacob reading to his cousin, Genevieve.
I had no idea when I became a “bubbe” that life would become so rich, so much fun! They bring out the best in us. I love my children with all my heart, but when I see my grandchildren, my heart literally sings for joy! They bring out the magic and wonder in life. They see the world with inquisitive eyes. The simplest things are magnificent in their lives. All the stresses and worries that seem to be constant companions to us adults are instantly pushed aside when I spend time with Jacob or Genevieve. I love them. I have fun with them. They are pure joy. I am grateful for grandchildren!
My husband and I love to walk. We regularly find natural areas with pathways for strolls or hikes. In fact, on one of our first dates Richard took me on a rigorous hike at a nearby state park. That’s when he had me! This photo is a garden in Maryland with some wonderful trails. I am grateful for nature, the out-of-doors, and wooded trails.
When I was a small child, I remember going to an occassional quilting bee with Mom. As the women quilted, we kids played, not really paying too much attention to what the women were doing. But I remember the products of these “bees.” We had quilts in our home. I loved them because they were made with remnants and scraps of material that Mom used in the clothing she made for the family. (I never owned a store-bought garment until I went to college!) We knew what shirt or dress contributed to each patch of the quilt. Grandmamma was a quilter, too, and I loved to snuggle under one when we visited the farm on a cold winter day. We always had scads of quilts around the house. The quilt pictured here, sad to say, is store-bought. I don’t have any quilts from my youth anymore. Over time the material wears thin and the batting begins to push out at the seams, and then through the threadbare material itself. But this only tends to happen when quilts are used on a regular basis, as we did. This quilt hangs on a wall and collects dust. It just isn’t the same. Quilting bees were times when women gathered and chatted and worked together to create artfully crafted utilitarian masterpieces for daily use. I miss having handmade quilts around the house. I am grateful for quilts, and the memories of a bygone era.