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 144: Unbelievable! An empty calendar at work! Will this last the day? (It didn't, but nice for a little while.)
Day 145: Seeing an old guy (late 70's) I know, long-time runner, still out there doing it.
Day 146: A lizard skittering so fast you only hear it, and see the quivering leaves left in its wake.
Day 147: Midnight, heavy weather. House wrapped in storm clouds, an envelope of rain and wind.
Day 148: Clouds like vanilla scoops on an ice cream cone.
Day 149: 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 150: Salt Air.
Day 151: Cloud banks lying low in the valleys. Making islands of the hilltops.
Day 152: Ahhh. Thursday. The day before Friday.
Day 153 : Six different ice creams.
Day 154: Two cats on the fence...their tails stirring slowly as they survey the yard.
Day 155: Sun going down. Room going dark.
Day 156: Guessing right on the quick check-out lane.
Day 157: Martha with her new power washer. Power washing the bricks, power washing her car, power washing
the house, power washing the roof...
Day 158: Getting my favorite parking place.
Day 159: Sitting on a bench in a small town not your own. Sunny. Warm.
Day 160: Just a day of small chores with Martha. Seeing them done together.
Day 161: 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 162: That rubbery smell of a bike shop.
Day 163: Tingling scalp from one of those mentholated shampoos.
Day 164: Absence of tailgaters.
Day 165: A noisy house on a holiday and a quiet one afterwards.
Day 166: Rain in a sunny sky.
Day 167: Running today. Jumped a snake. Rattler.
Day 168: A small movie theater with Martha. A crowd our age.
Day 169: Pedaling around on a Spring morning - bursts of color.
Day 170: Sawing. Hzzzhwick! azzhwick! uzzhwick! azzzhwick! hzzzhwick!
Day 171: In front of the refrigerator, this spill pattern that looks like a centipede.
Day 172: A touch in a dream.
Day 173: Early afternoon nap. Low oscillating hum of the dishwasher, like a pulse.
Day 174: Roll the windows down, feel and smell the salty breeze.
Day 175: Crow walking around the back yard, inspecting things.
Day 176: A freight train, sidetracked. Four engines idling, punctuated by hisses, like a giant snake breathing.
Day 177: Sitting around on the front lawn in beach chairs, sipping a beer.
Day 178: Turn on the radio - Ray Wylie Hubbard playing Kilowatts!
Day 179: No hurry.
Day 180: 16 miles, 9 with a broken hand.
Day 181: Wetsuited surfers sprinkled like pepper along the wave line.
Day 182: Wondering "What exactly does that lizard think?"
Day 183: Group discussion about everyone's top 5 books. Top 5, no exceptions.
Day 184: Woodpecker drum roll in the air.
Day 185: Suddenly the scent of Coppertone tanning oil - wafting back to days of lazy, sunny beaches.
Day 186: Pie for breakfast.
Day 187: Facing something that's kind of scary - and coming throught it.
Day 188: Finding yourself singing...for no apparent reason.
Day 189: Remembering this vexing thing is no big deal.
Day 190: Application accepted!
Day 191: Getting rid of stuff you know you'll never need again.
Day 192: Three people napping.
Day 193: Sleep through the night - no dreams.
Day 194: Taking a leap!
Day 195: Uncrowded calendar.
Day 196: Sun-squinty eyes.
Day 197: Flipping your pillow in the middle of the night - getting the cool side.
Day 198: Doing a favor.
Day 199: Knowing you're almost done.
Day 200: People arriving.
Day 201: S'mores.
Day 202: Playground sounds.
Day 203: The shade sails floating gently up and down, breathing.
Day 204: Finding an extra carton of milk in the refrigerator when you thought you were out!
Day 205: Up early watching the Roland Garros final.
Day 206: Your kid doing something just like you used to do it when you were a kid.
Day 207: Finding that lost thing you'd pretty much given up on.
Day 208: Work on a painting for hours, clean up, turn to look at the painting...and fresh eyes show you the way.
Day 209: Reading a book that is self-interrupting because it frequently makes you stop and think.
Day 210: Running, two squirrels talking smack at me as I glide by.
Day 211: Wake up a night, the clock reads 2:22.
Day 212: Rediscovering an old favorite piece of clothing.
Day 213: A good hat.
Day 214: Progress on a job.
Day 215: Just the right color.
Day 216: Watching, unobserved, the neighbor cat stalking silently across the lawn at dusk.
Day 217: Gin and tonic on a summer afternoon.
Day 218: Boysenberry pie.
Day 219: Pinot Noir.
Day 220: Building a really great castle out of blocks.
Day 221: Sitting out on the deck, soaking up the heat and the sound of the river.
Day 222: Heading home.
Day 223: Little kids at a public school.
Day 224: A clean house.
Day 225: A happy two year old.
Day 226: Anticipating a big event.
Day 227: Making unexpected discoveries in the painting while painting.
Day 228: Watching a funny kids' movie with a kid you love.
Day 229: Doing a helpful errand.
Day 230: Fresh laundry. (The smell of it, the warmth, the folding.)
Day 231: Dogs
Day 232: Warm blanket
Day 233: Good effort
Day 234: An unexpected encounter with an old friend.
Day 235: Red ball
Day 236: Hummingbirds at the feeder.
Day 237: Pinot Noir
Day 238: Having time to kill.
Day 239: Meeting a deadline.
Day 240: Yellow bird, black wings
Day 241: Yawn, stretch
Day 242: Back scratch
Day 243: Red leaf tumbling lightly down
Day 244: Chocolate malt
Day 245: Sweeping up
Day 246: Singing