2011 was a year filled with upheaval and stress. A move from Maryland to Virginia, and then another from Virginia to Ohio, each dwelling smaller than the one before, necessitated storing most of our belongings in a storage unit far from where we now live. As if that was not stress enough, unexpected losses and illnesses of loved ones contributed to the jumble of feelings. Things got out of whack. For this year I have resolved to get my life back into whack (whatever ‘whack’ means.) Part of the process involves getting out of the apartment everyday and increasing physical activity. This is more of a challenge in winter when grounds and road surfaces are coated in snow and ice. Living in an apartment complex however, does afford some amenities that make it a bit easier to work toward my goals. The gym is free to all residents, so this year I’ve begun to come here and use the treadmill. Thirty minutes on that and I feel like a new person. As I get more in shape, I will use some of the other equipment, too, but a daily treadmill workout is great for now. I am grateful for gyms that have the tools that help us shape up!
In addition to flowers, I love to photograph trees. These are a stand of Sycamore trees found in Brookside Gardens in Silver Spring, MD. Trees are magnificent! They offer shade from the sun, something we have needed as of late. Their wood can be crafted into all manner of furniture, tools, or buildings. We burn wood for fuel, or mulch them for our gardens. One of my favorite places to read years ago, was sitting on the ground leaning against a gargantuan Willow tree growing beside a gentle stream. Well, I didn’t actually get a lot of reading done, but I was able to ponder nature’s glory while I sat there. Another tree was a Mimosa tree that my brothers and I would climb in. It grew in our back yard and one could usually find a kid or two crawling up its branches–us or the neighbor kids. Here in Virginia, there is a Weeping Cherry Blossom Tree that we pass every Shabbat on our way to shul (synagogue.) Its branches almost touch the ground, and it shades the entire yard and sidewalk. As we walk into the enclosure its branches create, the temperature drops and we stand for a few moments enjoying the coolness before we walk on toward our destination. When we get our house, I want one of those trees in our yard. There are other trees that I enjoy, each offering a particular characteristic that I like: Dogwoods, Cherry Blossoms, Oaks of all kinds, various kinds of Willows, Beechwood, Sycamores, and the list goes on. In the autumn I love to see the vivid reds of the Maples, and in the late winter to taste the syrup that is made from its sap. I am indeed grateful for trees of all kinds!
Recently we made a quick trip to another state. He went on business; I tagged along just for the fun of it. Since we met, Richard and I have loved traveling, both long treks and day-time excursions. We travel by car (pictured above) so that we can stop when we feel like it, make detours along interesting side roads, or even change directions if so inspired. Until recently I owned “my” car (as compared to “his” car). In fact, I’ve owned a car most of my adult life. Due to the fact that my car sat in the driveway 95% of the time after we moved to Virginia, I voluntarily sold it. Why make two car payments each month when we were essentially using one car. Of course, as one might have predicted, once my car sold I found that I “needed” it for a number of reasons. By now though, we are settling into being a one car household. I don’t know any family who does not have a vehicle to transport themselves to myriad destinations for work and play. In metropolitan areas where there is good public transport, one may not need to own their own car, but only because other vehicles are so readily available to whisk them wherever they want to go. Automobiles have become an essential part of our lives, replacing the horse and buggy of a bygone era. So, today I wish to express gratitude for the automobile!