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An American Bittern — Art by Pat Bean

          I woke up this morning,

          Smiled at the rising sun,

          Three little birds,

          Sat on my doorstep,

          Singing sweet songs. – Bob Marley

          One early autumn morning in Maine some years back, I set out for a short walk in Scarborough Marsh, a boggy landscape created thousands of years ago when icebergs advanced and retreated across the land, leaving behind a depression into which the ocean crept.

The marsh was filled with egrets, gulls, doves, chickadees, sparrows, robins, kingfishers, and jays that kept luring me on until my short walk turned into a four-hour hike, making me late getting on the road for the day’s actual destination.

Scarborough Marsh, Mine. — Photo by Pat Bean

A wooden boardwalk took me through the middle of a saltwater marsh, past islands of grass surrounded by patches of water, and a few birch trees, whose gold and red leaves shimmered in the sunlight. In the distance, a belted kingfisher sat on a lone stump in a golden field of waving grasses.

But my best bird sighting of the morning was an American bittern. The tall bird’s streaky brown feathers and reach-to-the sky stance camouflaged it quite neatly among the reeds. It was only when I caught its movement to snatch a tidbit from the waterlogged ground that I saw it.

Bitterns belong to the heron family, and North America has two, the American Bittern and the Least Bittern. Because they are a secretive species with excellent camouflage features, I’m always delighted to find one. Over my lifetime I’ve probably only seen maybe a dozen American and just one Least.

Yellow Bittern — Wikimedia photo

I did, however, see a Yellow Bittern when I visited Guam. That sighting was a special treat because it was New Year’s Day and I wanted my first bird of the year to be something other than a house sparrow, my first bird of the year back then for five years running.

Because birds were scarce on Guam, having been decimated by the arrival of non-native brown tree snakes, it was nearly noon before I saw my first bird that year, a small Yellow Bittern that flew directly in front of me.

Thinking about birds this morning is a distraction from thinking about all the chaos currently going on the world – or of yesterday’s dentist appointment to be followed an upcoming one to extract a tooth and get a partial fitted.

Such is life. Good memories are the silver lining of aging. I’m glad my cup runneth-over with them.

You can read more about my visit to Scarborough Marsh in Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

While it’s exciting to hike new trails, it’s just as satisfying to see the blossoms of a saguaro grow and blossom with the passing days. — Photo by Pat Bean

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

These days, my pre-dawn walks with my canine companion Scamp, who wakes me and won’t consider letting me go back to sleep, are mostly limited to short treks around my Catalina Foothills apartment complex here in Tucson.

Even so, I enjoy the walks and usually find something new and interesting to see on them, like the toad Scamp

Resident juvenile great horned owls from a couple years past sitting on the top of one of the apartment buildings. — Photo by Pat Bean

scared out of the bushes last week. “You don’t want to mess with that,” I told him as I pulled him away.

For the past couple of months, I’ve also been frequently sighting two juvenile great horned owls, that are the offspring of our resident great horns. As they’ve matured, the sightings have become less frequent. They’re learning that we homo sapiens aren’t always safe to be around.

But I suspect there will be more unafraid young owls to watch next year. Of the eight years, I’ve lived in the complex, I’ve seen baby owls six of them.

This year’s young owls, meanwhile, have taken an interest in my downstairs neighbor’s chihuahua Ginger, who weighs just about nothing. “I stand over her while she does her business,” my neighbor says, “and keep an eye out for those dang owls.”

I don’t have to worry about Scamp as he weighs about 40 pounds and is quite rambunctious besides. So, when I do see the owls, I simply go into bird-watching mode, a hobby I took up 20 years ago. While the owls didn’t show up during this morning’s walk, I did get to watch a gila woodpecker, sitting atop a saguaro, the one whose blossoms I have been daily tracking for the past two weeks.

And it’s a rare day when I don’t see doves, both mourning and white-winged species. The smaller mourning doves

A white-winged dove keeping an eye on Scamp and me as we walk past. — Photo by Pat Bean

sleep on the ground and Scamp is always trying to sneak up on them. He enjoys chasing after the doves, well until the leash pulls him up short.

While my morning walks aren’t as exciting as they were when I was traveling around the country in a small RV, and every few days would have new territory to explore, I’m fortunate to live next door to a bit of undeveloped desert full of wildlife, including javelinas, roadrunners, coyotes, quail, and even a bobcat or two.

Such encounters, at a safe distance from some of them of course, almost make me glad that Scamp insists on getting me out of bed at o’dark-hundred.

Bean Pat: To Caroline Randall Williams for her eye-opening essay in the New York Times on why the southern monuments are a slap in the face to Blacks. It offered this southern white girl, who has never considered herself racist, a better understanding of the inequities of the past and the present. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/26/opinion/confederate-monuments-racism.html

Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.

 

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

Saturday evening view of the Bighorn Fire from my Tucson apartment balcony. — Photo by Pat Bean

“We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” – Barbara De Angelis

I was born in Dallas, where tornadoes sometimes ravage the landscape, including a recent one near a granddaughter’s home as it rampaged through her neighborhood destroying quite a few homes and nearby businesses.

I lived for 15 years on The Texas Gulf Coast where I survived several hurricanes, including Carla in 1961, when our family had to evacuate the area and not return for over two weeks. We lost a freezer full of meat meant to feed the family for several months – and because of the stench, I trashed the freezer as well. The electrical power was off for weeks.

Another view of the fire in the Arizona Star.

For 25 years, I lived along the earthquake fault line of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah, and although I never went through a major shake, I was bounced around a few times by shock waves. And I narrowly avoided a landslide in Sardine Canyon between Logan and Brigham City just a couple of months after I moved to Utah.

I’ve been stranded a few times by floods, and watched as rivers rose to destroy homes and land. In 1995, I enjoyed a camping trip from hell when a landslide took out the Zion Canyon Road in Zion National Park. Our group was snowed on, rained on, and had our tents blown down by the storm that hit the area.

Mother Nature can be cruel.

But I try to respect her while continuing to enjoy her bounties, which have given many delightful pleasures and much peace during my lifetime.

Sitting quietly by a rivulet of water as it gurgles its way down a mountain canyon, basking in the colorful shimmer of aspen leaves in fall, eating lunch behind a waterfall in Deer Creek Canyon in Grand Canyon National Park, or hiking a bench trail on Mount Ogden have been just a tiny few nature activities that have kept me sane in an unsane world.

The road to the top of Mount Lemmon in a photo I took last year on a day trip is now closed. — Photo by Pat Bean

Even in today’s self-isolation environment I daily watch birds, and the ever-changing seasons of the landscape from my third-floor balconies. I often see the sun blossom from behind the mountains before I rise from my bed, and I try to be on my living room balcony to watch sunsets as they dazzlingly color the sky with yellow, gold, orange and red before disappearing below the horizon.

Such scenes lower my blood pressure.

But not the one I saw Saturday night from my bedroom balcony. A fire started by a lightning strike in the Catalina Mountains has now consumed nearly 60,000 acres and forced numerous evacuations of small mountain communities. And the news this morning noted that the fire has only been about 20 percent contained. Nearly 1,000 firefighters and plane-dropped retardants haven’t yet been able to match Mother Nature’s power.

Eventually, the landscape will recover and actually be richer because of the fire. But many people may not have the means to recover. And this is just a small pocket of the larger picture of what the coronavirus is doing to the world’s economy.

Let’s face it. Life is not fair. And the only control we have is how we react to it. My hope is that somewhere in the equation kindness and love will win out over the destructive forces of nature — and the harmful and hateful side of the human species.

Bean Pat: To all the firefighters and support crew working to contain the Bighorn Fire in the Catalina Mountains.

Silver Lining: Democrats and Republicans, in a rare bipartisan moment this past week, passed the Great American Outdoors Act to fund over $20 billion worth of delayed maintenance projects in America’s parks and public lands. I love this for two reasons, first because I love public lands and second because the two polarized political parties worked together. Hopefully, this unity will continue to foster things that are to the benefit of all Americans and not just benefit one party or the other.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

Living in COVID Time

Scamp wasn’t happy with the grooming process, but he did enjoy the treats I bribed him with to be good. — Photo by Pat Bean 

Headstrong is just a word that others call you when you don’t do what they want. – Jennifer Donnelly   

My canine companion Scamp does not have a mean bone in his body. But he is a headstrong rascal who needs a groomer just as headstrong. I had one. She handled Scamp beautifully. Then along came the coronavirus. My groomer was an older woman who wisely is staying at home.

After waiting almost a month to get a grooming appointment for Scamp this past week, he was then sent home without being groomed.

“He’s just too hard to handle,” the young woman groomer said. I had noticed on checking him in that she appeared to be way overbooked and a bit bitchy. I think he was an easy choice to make her day, as an inexperienced groomer, go better

OK, I’m not happy about Scamp flunking grooming class, and she rejected my dog, so I’m probably the one who is being bitchy.

Maggie was easier to groom than Scamp. I used to plug my clippers into the outside outlet and sit on the step of my RV to groom her. I groomed Scamp on my living room floor yesterday. Did I mention that my vacumn cleaner is now plugged up? — Photo by Pat Bean

I have groomed a couple of my dogs in the past, primarily Maggie, the spoiled cocker spaniel who traveled around the country in a small RV with me for eight years. And since I’m pretty headstrong myself, I tackled Scamp with the grooming clippers yesterday.

It was not fun, and it is not finished. The first error I made was forgetting to put the length guard on my clippers and taking a good swipe down Scamp’s back. That committed me to doing the same for his entire body.

I actually like him with the shorter haircut because his bottom coat is silver while his topcoat is black. But the shorter look means every mistake shows. And, trust me, there are many mistakes.

Today, I need to tackle the toenails. So far, I’ve managed to trim three. My goal is to spend 15 minutes a day on the grooming process until it is finished. I suspect it might become an unending daily task,

No wonder I had a coronavirus nightmare last night.

Bean Pat: To Coursea, which offers free online college classes. One of the more popular classes during COVID Time is the one on psychological first aid for people with depression, anxiety, or emotional distress.

You can read more about Maggie and our adventures in Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.

Today’s Silver Lining: While grooming Scamp is a pain in the behind for this old broad, I’m saving a good bit of money by doing it myself.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

Grand Canyon Memories

Digging through my scrapbooks, I found the story I did about flying in a KC-135 tanker over the Grand Canyon, a National Guard event to entice women to join the service.

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain

I was having a virtual Jack and Coke Zoom night with my good friend Kim Monday when we started talking about celebrations for her approaching 60th birthday. She and I have been observing birthdays together now for just about half our lives.

My friend Kim and I right before we jumped out of an airplane to celebrate my 70th birthday.

Recalling the fantastic time 11 years ago when we had celebrated my 70th birthday by jumping out of an airplane, she wanted to do something just as memorable

Among other things, we had earlier talked about a cruise and visit to Iceland, both of which are off the radar now because of the coronavirus.

“You know I haven’t visited the Grand Canyon,” she interjected into the conversation. “But I think I’m past the time when I can hike down to its bottom.”

That brought a laugh from me, and the comment that I was way past that time. “I gave up my annual birthday hike to the top of Angel’s Landing in Zion some years back now.”

“Perhaps a helicopter ride over the canyon. I could handle that,” Kim said.

Her words brought up a couple of memories for me. I’ve visited the Grand Canyon many times, including twice spending 16 days paddling through it on the Colorado River, and once flying over it in a KC-135 Tanker as it refueled three B-1 Bombers and a fighter jet. I was along for the ride as a reporter covering the outing, which had been planned to show women the sky was the limit if they joined the National Guard.

Kim during one of our outings to Zion National Pak to celebrate one of my birthdays.

Both the Grand Canyon rafting and over-flying experiences rank among the top 10 experiences of my life. As a rafter, I disdained the helicopters flying overhead the canyon, but my view of the canyon from the glass bottom at the rear of the KC-135, where the boom operator lay for the refueling process, made me rethink my attitude. While not exactly environmentally correct, I wanted everyone to have such an experience. Sometimes we have to stop thinking about life and just live it – especially if, like me, we’ve survived to become old broads.

And so, I told my friend Kim that if she wanted to do a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon to count me in. Kim, by the way, celebrates her birthday the same day as Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, which is September 22.

Bean Pat: To my granddaughter Keri, who posted “I Love You” on Facebook, noting that if people can hate for no reason, she can love for no reason. I am so proud of her.

Bean Pat Silver Lining: To Wing, a drone company, and a Virginian librarian, who will be joining forces to drop library books to kids. This is such a great idea, as are any others that encourage children to read. A home with children and no books is, to my way of thinking, child abuse. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/drones-will-drop-library-books-for-kids-in-virginia/

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

 

“You can’t escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln.

A small bit of protection for monarch butterflies is my silver lining for today. If I’m going to face reality, I will also need to find a bit of good in the world to keep me sane.

If not wearing a mask while carrying an American flag in a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters, and then purposely coughing on one of the peaceful protesters, is considered patriotic, then I am living in the wrong country.

The above incident actually happened here in Tucson. What has this world evolved into?

When did so many Americans become so hateful? As a person who is always looking for a silver lining, will I be able to find one among the current cacophony of hateful voices? These are questions I’m asking myself this morning.

I’m also asking myself what can I do as an 81-year-old former journalist to halt the hateful acts I see going on around me. Since beginning this blog 11 years ago, I have written nearly 2,000 posts. With rare exceptions, they have all been upbeat and positive.

Perhaps it’s time I lost my Pollyanna persona, which truly is the majority portion of my being, and dipped into the part of myself that writes about the darker side of life that goes on around me – the side I didn’t ignore as a working journalist,

Perhaps I should now take this blog to the political side.

But I am not going to blame Trump for the actions of the American people. I don’t believe in the blame game. While our president often makes me cringe because of his behavior, and even ashamed to belong to the same human race as he, the woman who coughed on another person in these days of the coronavirus virus, is the only one responsible for her bullying, despiteful, hateful act.

But you can bet your life on it, I will not be voting for Trump.

Bean’s Silver-Lining Pat: A partnership of 45 companies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been formed to reduce the loss of monarch butterfly habitat in North America. Perhaps a drop in the bucket to the loss of other wildlife protections these days, but any step forward is one that I consider a silver lining.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

 

 

 

To be outdoors and walking during Arizona sunrises and sunsets makes one feel good to be alive. — Photo by Pat Bean

          ‘The wisdom of age: Don’t stop walking.” – Mason Cooley

A Daily Ritual

            After retiring in 2004, selling my home, and taking to the road in a small motor home, I began a daily ritual that continues to this day. I walk my dog,

Mourning doves are almost a daily sight as Scamp and I take our morning walks. — Photo by Pat Bean

First, there was Maggie, a spoiled cocker spaniel who didn’t wake up until 9 a.m. and who didn’t like to get her feet wet. She was my home-on-wheels companion for eight of the nine years I lived in it.

Pepper, a sweet, gently Scottie-mix who never wanted to get out of my sight, came next and traveled with me for my final unrooted year before we began life in a third-floor walkup apartment, a choice I made because I like being on top and having a view. Six a.m. was Pepper’s wake-up time but she could be persuaded to sleep in for another hour before I had to get up and walk her.

Scamp, a Siberian Husky-Shih Tzu mix who is perfectly named and who has now been with me for a year, demands a 5 a.m. walk, and bullies me until I get up and take him for it. Thankfully I’m a morning person and am usually just as eager for the walk as he. But occasionally, especially when I get to bed late or spend most of the night reading, I get a bit grumpy about the early start to my day.

Living in a third-floor apartment without a yard of my own means these early walks are not optional. I call them my fool-proof exercise program. This is especially true since four more walks are required during the day as well.

But since its summer, and Scamp and I live in the desert where it’s currently hot as heck, our morning walks are the

Cactus is plentiful around my apartment complex, and one or another is usually in bloom. — Photo by Pat Bean

only ones of much duration. And these have been shortened in recent years because of the physical limitations that come with becoming an old broad. The long walks I used to have with my other canines is one of the few things I truly miss.

Even so, I find that if I’m observant, each shorter walk these days contains a special moment. Perhaps it’s the sight of a Cheshire moon grinning back at me between the trees as I walk down the steps. This morning, it was one of our resident great horned owls sitting on the pool fence and screeching a hiss at us as we passed it by.

Scamp was intrigued and stopped to watch until I finally pulled him forward. At 40 pounds, Scamp doesn’t much interest the owl, but my downstairs neighbor picks up her four-pound chihuahua whenever she knows this bird of prey is around.

Right now, the saguaros are beginning to bloom, and I have two large ones picked out to watch their day by day progress. Where I live is half city landscape and half undeveloped desert ridges and washes. Morning sights have included a bobcat, roadrunners, Gambel’s quail, and javelinas

Most months, it’s still dark at 5 a.m., but currently, the sun is just beginning to makes its appearance at this hour. Today was a bit overcast but the sky was full of lavender-tinted clouds. Scamp led us to the small dog park here in the apartment complex, and while he ran free for a few minutes, I watched a pair of mourning doves as they sat side-by-side on a high utility wire.

A cool breeze, like a gentle lover’s touch, ruffled my hair. It felt good to be alive – and have a dog that must be walked.

You can read more about Maggie and our morning walks in Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.

Bean Pat: Listen to a great horned owl hoot, coo, screech and hiss. https://www.birdnote.org/show/voices-and-vocabularies-great-horned-owls

            Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

 

Morning Chat

Technology: Aaaccchhh!

While I might not be able to live without my internet, getting out among nature’s wonders and birdwatching are what keep me sane. — Photo by Pat Bean

          “The march of science and technology does not imply growing intellectual complexity in the lives of most people. It often means the opposite.”—Thomas Sowell

Internet Service

          Never mind that our family didn’t get a television until I was 14 years old, and today I don’t even own one, I can’t live without the internet. I go a bit crazy when it doesn’t work, which is exactly what happened about a month ago.

Can I have a bone? I’ll sit in your lap to chew it — and petting me will calm you down. Translation by Pat Bean

It started with interruptions to my service and a message that no internet service was available. About five minutes later, my internet would magically be working again,

After a couple of days of this annoyance, I decided to report the problem, which turned out to be a difficult task that took almost two hours. I waited, I talked to people on the phone, I chatted online and was transferred back and forth between staffers numerous times before someone finally said the problem was most likely my modem and a new one would be sent to me, and that when it arrived, I should return the old one.

After three more days of intermittent internet service the new one, or so I thought, arrived via UPS. I immediately switched the two modems out – and found myself with NO internet service.

So it was that I found myself back on the phone for another two-hour session of waiting and trying to communicate with idiots who kept transferring me around from one to another before I was finally told the problem evidently wasn’t a modem issue and a repairman would have to be sent out to investigate.

Here I got a break. While I was envisioning several days more without internet service before that could happen, I was told a repairman was available that afternoon. About four hours later a congenial guy with a modem in hand knocked on my door.

“I checked all the lines so it has to be your modem,” he said. On investigation, he discovered, and told me, that the “old” modem, which I had originally been sent in February of this year, was out of date, and the “new” modem sent me was even older than that.

          He then hooked up the truly new modem and within a few minutes I had perfect, fast-speed internet service. He then took both the old modems with him.

You think that would be the end of it. Oh! No!

Yesterday I got an email informing me that if I didn’t mail back my old modem, I would be charged $150, My patience, if I ever actually had any, was at an end. I looked down at my canine companion Scamp, who was getting concerned about my state of mind and yelled. They want me to pay $150 for a modem that doesn’t work!  I translated his response as Can I have a bone?

Finally, I settled down and called them once again, but never got through to anyone. I then went to online chat and wasted another hour before the idiot chatting with me said I would have to wait until the charge was actually billed until they could remove it.

As I said: Aaaccchhh!

          Bean Pat: To the repairmen, all of them, who continue to work through the coronavirus crisis, to keep technology working for those of us who can’t live without it. Thank you.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

 

Ten years ago I took this photo of Mount St. Helens from a ridge six miles away that was directly in the blast zone. — Photo by Pat Bean

          “If you are too focused on the end result, you may miss the rewarding journey that will ultimately get you there.” – Anil Kuma Sinhar

          Ten years ago, I was still living and traveling full time in my small RV with my canine companion Maggie. This was the year that I visited Mount St Helens.

Looking out at the gaping mouth of Mount St. Helens from a point six miles away once known as Coldwater Ridge triggered goose pimples on my arms. I knew that David Johnston, the first to report the volcano’s eruption, had been standing on this same ridge, a spot that stood directly in the volcano’s blast zone. The 30-year-old Johnston had been one of 57 people who lost their lives to the angry mountain.

As I noted the 40th anniversary of that tragic event as I drank my coffee and caught up on world news this morning, images of my visit to that once again sleeping volcano dug their way to the surface of my thoughts.

What I remembered, and confirmed by the photos that I had taken at the time, was that life was returning to the blast area. Grasses and trees were reestablishing themselves, and flowers were blooming.

And grasses and Indian Paintbrush were growing around a tree stump left by the blast.

Life changes but it goes on, as it has for millions of years. As it will after the coronavirus is conquered. Not all of us will make it. Whether the virus gets us, a truck runs over us in the middle of the street, a crazed madman shoots us at a MacDonald’s, or we simply run out of the days allotted to us, we’re not going to get out of this world alive.

Focusing on when that final day will be is not something I’m going to do. Instead, I’m going to simply treasure every minute I have left on this planet, and just keep going until my tomorrows run out.

I’m glad today for the memory of looking out on Mount St. Helens as it returned to life and the reminder that view offered me to savor every moment because tomorrow may not come. Everyone dies – but not everyone lives.

Bean Pat: To all those on the front row helping others survive the coronavirus.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

Searching for Joy

“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has the power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.” – Eleonora Duse

Joy was hugging my oldest great-grandchild a few years ago.

Appreciating the Little Things in Life

I developed a habit over the years for the times when I would, for one reason or another, begin to feel sorry for myself. I would ask how many people in the world would trade lives with me?

Since I’ve always had a roof over my head, enough food to eat, adequate clothing, and when I worked a job I loved, I immediately knew there would be millions clamoring to take my place.

Joy is painting a watercolor and actually liking it.

That recognition quickly shut down what I came to call my Pity-Pat-ing minutes.

The past two months of social distancing, which have been hard for the extrovert side of this old broad, has found me adopting a new habit: Looking for, and appropriately appreciating, the little things in life. Toward this goal, I created what I call a Joy Is list. The following are a few things that have made it there.

Joy is books, and always having a stack of them to read.

Joy is getting up in the morning and putting on Helen Reddy’s “I am Woman, Hear Me Roar,” and loudly, off key, singing along with her

Joy is finally finishing a difficult jigsaw puzzle and not having a missing piece.

Joy is a virtual Jack and Coke night via Zoom with my best friend, or a Zoom night with three adult granddaughters.

Joy is a hot bath in a deep tub, hot enough to turn the skin pink and send warmth and ease all the way down to my bones

Joy is that time just before dawn when I lay in bed and listen to the birds waking up and twittering their own joy for a new day.

Joy is solving and fixing a computer glitch all by myself — after an unsuccessful hour on the phone with a computer expert.

          Joy is watching a sliver of moon shining down like the Cheshire Cat on Scamp and me as we take our last walk of the day.

What would make your Joy Is list?

available on Amazon

Bean Pat: Joy is taking a virtual bird walk in Celery Bog with Dave https://pinolaphoto.com/2020/05/17/the-canada-warbler-at-the-celery-bog/#like-15836

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.