A Year of Small Joys
Day 1: Crossing the back yard, warm Bermuda grass around my feet – out to the studio.
Day 2: Hot towel against my face – fresh laundry smell.
Day 3: Groundsman raking pine needles in slanted sunlight, clearing shaped spaces beneath the trees.
Day 4: Bird to fence, sounding off. Try to spot him hidden there.
Day 5: Hard day... Flattened. Whipped. Driving home, James McMurtry comes on the radio – Choctaw Bingo, band like a high-speed freight train…. yeah.
Day 6: A trawler off-shore, surreal so large, fresh sun illuminating its eastward planes.
Day 7: Stepping out the front door, light rain - the first in it seems like months.
Sprinkles in my hair.
Steady, muted "shsssshhssshhhshssshhh" of the tires on wet pavement as we glide through the quiet neighborhood.
Asynchronous, sporadic spat of drops on the car roof stopped at the light.
Snare drum cadence going through heavier patches.
The empty patches.
Back and forth.
That startling rainbow - huge, radiant, it's southern arc spreading into the ocean on my right.
Light like the Old Masters on buildings, hills, sea, mist...
Everywhere you turn - beauty.
Day 8: Project done. Days before deadline.
Day 9: Crisp ironed shirt.
Day 10: Bacon smell wakes me up. Familiar talk in the kitchen.
Day 11: At work, the lightness of knowing vacation starts tomorrow.
Day 12: Headin' to the airport. Rockin' music. Blue sky.
Day 13: Ursa Major a blazing tower on dark horizon. An hour before dawn in the western islands.
Day 14: Open my eyes in bed, motionless. Sky and ocean. Lines and lines and lines of waves rolling in.
Day 15: Scrambling eggs and making hash browns. Sea breeze blowing in.
Day 16: Jungle trail run. Red dirt. Chickens. Mulch.
Day 17: Salt air.
Day 18: Market in the morning. No destination. For days.
Day 19: Wavesound.
Day 20: Hot tub. Pacific in my eyes.
Day 21: Jagged island mountain, jade misted.
Day 22: Everybody in the kitchen. Everybody. Cooking and talking.
Day 23: Hike the jungle trail -- to the point bluff -- sweating.
Day 24: Hanalei pier...swingin' my feet...sippin' my beer.
Day 25: Banded ocean
Purpled ultramarine, aqua green, and blue again
Transparent unbelievable tourquise
Day 26: Yellow leaves on wet asphalt
Day 27: Familiar things
Day 28: Shampoo lather patterns on the shower floor
Day 29: Dog running along the roadside path
Day 30: Blue mustang, coast highway
Day 31: That pothole fixed
Day 32: Spicy fragrance of pepper trees on this hot afternoon
Day 33: Gazing straight up
At a pale morning half moon
A bird bisects the sky
Day 34: Shaggy ponies, stable smell
Day 35: Middle of the night, dreamy awareness of rain
Spattered music on the roof and around the yard
Day 36: Email queue cleared!
Day 37: James McMurtry singing "Just Us Kids"
Day 38: Mid-morning run
In and out of cool shady stretches
Crunch sound - crossing dry pine needles
Snare drum sound on sandy pavement
Push-broom sound crossing grass
Day 39: That old man and his pushcart
Walking two old dogs in the morning
Sometimes one dog rides
Sometimes the other
Day 40: See the train in the station, loading passengers and soon to go.
Day 41: Doves perched shoulder-to-shoulder along the raised arm of the traffic light
Arrayed like spectators as the morning swirls under them
Day 42: Wet pavement smell
Day 43: Walking up the gravel road after rain
Day 44: Long, quiet ride. Just driving.
Day 45: The ponies flank-to-flank, leaning on each other,
Eyeing me walking up the driveway to get the paper.
Waiting on the neighbor girl to come feed them.
Day 46: Not having run out of milk in the morning
Day 47: Train a'comin
Day 48: Dog footprints in tar...a trail weaving along the sidewalk
Day 49: Down the Grapevine, the 99 appears
A glittering, golden compass needle that splits the night straight north
Day 50: A new grandson asleep on my right
Day 51: Oatmeal with almond slivers and brown sugar
Day 52: Up early on a day you don't have to be,
leaning on the kitchen counter, sipping coffe, boys waking up.
Day 53: Squadrons of quail sprinting across the road
Day 54: Waking up deep in the night, in the middle hours,
rolling over, and back...comfortable that hours remain.
Day 55: Bad poetry sucks. But, taken as an impulse, not as poetry, even bad poetry is ok.
Day 56: The sound of tires moving across smooth pavement still wet after rain -
a soft, slow and steady exhalation---hhzhzzzzzhzzzzzzhzzzzzzz
Day 57: Precise line of the garden hose in parabolic arc across the lawn.
Day 58: Saturday morning breakfast at my favorite home town cafe.
Day 59: A slight variation in routine.
Day 60: Plenty of light in the bathroom after replacing the bulbs.
Day 61: Taking an alternate rout to work.
Day 62: Cruising quietly down mainstreet before business opens doors,
a solitary seagull gliding at 20 feet.
Head-on and centered perfectly between the buildings,
aligned with the midstripe...like a jetliner landing.
Day 63: Hand watering the lantanas, catching all five bushes in a single arc of spray.
Day 64: A shiny red Camaro in front of me at the light
Bright as the morning.
Day 65: Up and out earlier than usual -
Different walkers on the street, different runners
Day 66: Dog riding shotgun in the car next to mine smiles at me as they pass by.
Day 67: Do-it-yourself replacement of that bad tail light on the Ford.
Day 68: Every once in a while in the midst of work turmoil, pausing...remembering,
recognizing this is small stuff.
Day 69: Guy at the bus stop in the morning doing knee bends while waiting for the bus.
Day 70: That day-starting glass of water – cold, lemon, refreshing.
Day 71: Running an old familiar trail for the first time in a long time. Fresh again.
Day 72: A cleared desk.
Day 73: Catching all the green lights.
Day 74: Doing a grade 3 hill with Runner's Legs.
Day 75: The paint. Right hue, transparency and viscosity. The right brush stroke in the right place.
Day 76: Painting listening to the Brandenburg Concertos. As if 38 years had not gone by.
Day 77: Sicilian lemons.
Day 78: Grandson sitting in a cardboard box. Happy with himself.
Day 79: Exhaustion after running.
Day 80: Big "WHUMPFF!" sound from the room where Thomas and Romey are playing...
followed by Thomas saying, "He did it hisself!"
Day 81: Vapor rising off the barbecue cover.
Day 82: Possum in a shambling hurry along the base of the fence bordering the back yard.
Day 83: Pedaling the beach cruiser an easy mile up the road for coffee.
Day 84: Light traffic day.
Day 85: The old guy with his old dogs.
Day 86: Small cup at the base of the floor-to-ceiling window in our hallway - trace of a
one-and-a-half year old.
Day 87: A pleasant dream just before waking.
Day 88: Little girl's laughter in the restaurant.
Day 89: Getting the drawing right!
Day 90: In the midst of the chaos, take a minute...let it go.
Day 91: A blank mind
Day 92: Whitecaps
Day 93: A flag straight out.
Day 94: The parts and the whole
Day 95: Each and every thing moving
Day 96: Goosebumps
Day 97: Perfect clean shave with a new blade.
Day 98: Smell of sage
Day 99: Little brown birds perfectly camoflaged among the dry eucalyptus leaves.
Day 100: Black crows on a bright green lawn.
Day 101: Someone strung a line of helium balloons, red and white, a ninety foot floating arc.
Day 102: Liking what you've got on.
Day 103: Surfers and stand-up paddle boarders - out there even in the rain.
Day 104: Dinner with friends.
Day 105: Remembering Mom and Dad.
Day 106: An unexpected day off work.
Day 107: Deciphering the face of a new grandchild.
Who's that look like?
Where'd that come from?
Day 108: Smell of eucalyptus. Bracing morning air.
Day 109: Pristine landscape. Layered. Receding in atmospheric perspective.
Day 110: Paired jets overhead.
Day 111: The stretch of roadwork they've been working on all year - Wow! Paved overnite - smooth new surface!
Day 112: Racing down the road on my bike. Split the 20!
Day 113: No hurry. No place I have to be today.
Day 114: Birds hoppin' around.
Day 115: Tang of lemon.
Day 116: Chevron formation of pelicans, frozen in mid air.
Day 117: One of those race walkers working out, scuttling down the road like an eager marionette.
Day 118: Wake up in the morning...look out the slatted windows through tree branches...a star is framed.
Day 119: The bustle of the coffee shop.
Day 120: Smell of turpentine and linseed oil.
Day 121: Dog walking up from the beach, in his teeth a piece of driftwood twice his own length.
Day 122: Driving out of town at night, side by side with the slow moving train, its big windows like lanterns
glowing from within. In one, a figure backlit...silhouette of a man leaning forward, peering out.
Day 123: Sunglight and shadow defining buildings.
Day 124: Swooping through curves.
Day 125: A single ball, left like a sentinel on a playground...awaiting the return of kids.
Day 126: Noticing the "Four Sisters" palm trees...their hair's been cut.
Day 127: Witnessing the happiness of others.
Day 128: Afternoon on the patio drinking beer with friends.
Day 129: Train ride with grandchildren.
Day 130: Running in the rain.
Day 131: A mess cleaned up.
Day 132: Smell of popcorn in the stairwell.
Day 133: Midway on a long run, on the horizon a feather plume
becomes a geyser.
Broken water main sending a tower fifty feet high, three feet thick.
How many PSI is that?
Run alongside a new river in the gulley beside the railroad tracks.
Day 134: Quiet in the office early.
Day 135: A clean driveway.
Day 136: Fat bird on a post, tail up and looking you straight in the eye.
Day 137: Window ten miles off glinting gold in the downing sun.
Day 138: Wow! Fine old woodie - bright yellow, light grain side panels, whitewall tires.
Day 139: Perfect wave!
Day 140: Playing cards with friends - Jack Daniels and laughing so hard it hurts.
Day 141: Cloud patterns on the hill - dappled sunlight and shadows.
Day 142: Car heater kicking in, warmth rising at my heels.
Day 143: The cries of seagulls not visible.
Day 143: Unbelievable! An empty calendar at work! Will this last the day? (It didn't, but nice for a little while.)
Day 144: Seeing an old guy (late 70's) I know, long-time runner, still out there doing it.
Day 145: A lizard skittering so fast you only hear it, and see the quivering leaves left in its wake.
Day 146: Midnight, heavy weather. House wrapped in storm clouds, an envelope of rain and wind.
Day 147: Clouds like vanilla scoops on an ice cream cone.
Day 148: Approaching an intersection, a skateboarder sprinting flat out to make the light...without pause, at full speed
and absolutely no break in stride, he slaps that skateboard down, leaps aboard and streaks across -
gone in a flash!
Day 149: Salt Air.
Day 150: Cloud banks lying low in the valleys. Making islands of the hilltops.
Day 151: Ahhh. Thursday. The day before Friday.
Day 152 : Six different ice creams.
Day 153: Two cats on the fence...their tails stirring slowly as they survey the yard.
Day 154: Sun going down. Room going dark.
Day 155: Guessing right on the quick check-out lane.
Day 156: Martha with her new power washer. Power washing the bricks, power washing her car, power washing
the house, power washing the roof...
Day 157: Getting my favorite parking place.
Day 158: Sitting on a bench in a small town not your own. Sunny. Warm.
Day 159: Just a day of small chores with Martha. Seeing them done together.
Day 160: Three roadwork guys. One bent over, running some kind of grinder or saw on pavement, or maybe concrete.
Not much sound, really, coming through the car window, but a storm of sparks like a roman candle
held upside down against the road ricocheting all around his legs.
Day 161: That rubbery smell of a bike shop.
Day 162: Tingling scalp from one of those mentholated shampoos.
Day 163: Absence of tailgaters.
Day 164: A noisy house on a holiday and a quiet one afterwards.
Day 165: Rain in a sunny sky.
Day 166: Running today. Jumped a snake. Rattler.
Day 167: A small movie theater with Martha. A crowd our age.
Day 168: Pedaling around on a Spring morning - bursts of color.
Day 169: Sawing. Hzzzhwick! azzhwick! uzzhwick! azzzhwick! hzzzhwick!
Day 170: In front of the refrigerator, this spill pattern that looks like a centipede.
Day 171: A touch in a dream.
Day 172: Early afternoon nap. Low oscillating hum of the dishwasher, like a pulse.
Day 173: Roll the windows down, feel and smell the salty breeze.
Day 174: Crow walking around the back yard, inspecting things.
Day 175: A freight train, sidetracked. Four engines idling, punctuated by hisses, like a giant snake breathing.
Day 176: Sitting around on the front lawn in beach chairs, sipping a beer.
Day 177: Turn on the radio - Ray Wylie Hubbard playing Kilowatts!
Day 178: No hurry.
Day 179: 16 miles, 9 with a broken hand.
Day 180: Wetsuited surfers sprinkled like pepper along the wave line.
Day 181: Wondering "What exactly does that lizard think?"
Day 182: Group discussion about everyone's top 5 books. Top 5, no exceptions.
Day 183: Woodpecker drum roll in the air.
Day 184: Suddenly the scent of Coppertone tanning oil - wafting back to days of lazy, sunny beaches.
Day 185: Pie for breakfast.
Day 186: Facing something that's kind of scary - and coming throught it.
Day 187: Finding yourself singing...for no apparent reason.
Day 188: Remembering this vexing thing is no big deal.
Day 189: Application accepted!
Day 190: Getting rid of stuff you know you'll never need again.
Day 191: Three people napping.
Day 192: Sleep through the night - no dreams.
Day 193: Taking a leap!
Day 194: Uncrowded calendar.
Day 195: Sun-squinty eyes.
Day 196: Flipping your pillow in the middle of the night - getting the cool side.
Day 197: Doing a favor.
Day 198: Knowing you're almost done.
Day 199: People arriving.
Day 200: S'mores.
Day 201: Playground sounds.
Day 202: The shade sails floating gently up and down, breathing.
Day 203: Finding an extra carton of milk in the refrigerator when you thought you were out!
Day 204: Up early watching the Roland Garros final.
Day 205: Your kid doing something just like you used to do it when you were a kid.
Day 206: Finding that lost thing you'd pretty much given up on.
Day 207: Work on a painting for hours, clean up, turn to look at the painting...and fresh eyes show you the way.
Day 208: Reading a book that is self-interrupting because it frequently makes you stop and think.
Day 209: Running, two squirrels talking smack at me as I glide by.
Day 210: Wake up a night, the clock reads 2:22.
Day 211: Rediscovering an old favorite piece of clothing.
Day 212: A good hat.
Day 213: Progress on a job.
Day 214: Just the right color.
Day 215: Watching, unobserved, the neighbor cat stalking silently across the lawn at dusk.
Day 216: Gin and tonic on a summer afternoon.
Day 217: Boysenberry pie.
Day 218: Pinot Noir.
Day 219: Building a really great castle out of blocks.
Day 220: Sitting out on the deck, soaking up the heat and the sound of the river.
Day 221: Heading home.
Day 222: Little kids at a public school.
Day 223: A clean house.
Day 224: A happy two year old.
Day 220: Anticipating a big event.