April Showers


Yesterday was a perfect day to work in the garden — soft April breezes and pale sunshine; I gathered my gardening tools and set about doing some much-needed weeding, marveling at the tiny perennials that are struggling to grow in this chillier than normal spring weather.  I accomplished quite a bit before my back and shoulders warned me that they could do only so much at a time.  There were errands to be run and shopping to be done, so I left the garden and spent the afternoon away from the house, grateful for the mild day as I went about my many travels.

This morning dawned cloudy, chilly, and showery, eventually turning to a much-needed soaking April rain.  On a morning such as this, it is a luxury to be snuggled in my cozy house, watching the rain from the window.  I have organized my desk and paid some bills, done a bit of laundry, and finished a book I was too sleepy to read last night.  Now I will  warm up a bowl of soup for lunch, pick out a new book to begin, and settle in for a quiet afternoon, unless, of course, fickle April changes her mind; the rain may stop and skies clear, and I will be more inclined to join the world again.


The Nature Challenge


I am a cautious user of Facebook, and seldom participate in the many challenges and re-posting requests that are abundant.  However, a few days ago, a friend of mine “nominated” me to be a part of The Nature Challenge, which consists of posting a nature photo each day for seven days, and nominating another friend each day to participate.  What a lovely idea for someone like me who loves nature and can never resist taking a photo of the beauty found all around us in our natural world.  As well, I have several friends whose photography is exquisite.

The challenge has brought me much pleasure this week, as I spent time sorting through my photos to find one to share each day, whipped out my camera when the perfect photo presented itself in my daily travels, and savored the beauty of the photos my friends shared.   While I have never traveled far from home, many of my friends’ photos were of more distant locales, bringing a different perspective to my experiences of nature’s bounty. 

To find joy, comfort, and excitement in nature is a gift.  In the midst of chaos, I often look to nature for solace and peace.  There is such beauty unique to each season in my little corner of the world — always something to look forward to as one season slowly turns into the next.  When life gets particularly stressful, I step outside to breathe the perfumed air of summer, or turn my eyes to the clarity of the chill winter sky filled with stars and moonlight.  

And so, this Nature Challenge has been particularly helpful to me throughout this busy and stressful week.  One of the photos I shared was taken as I was hurrying to complete an errand and stopped by a peaceful little pond nearby.  Somehow, as I stood in the midday spring sunshine and watched the geese, my spirits lightened, and I continued on my way with a weight lifted from my heart.


I am reminded of a quote by William Wordsworth.  

“Pleasure is spread through the earth in stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find.”


A Shop of My Own


Years ago, when my friend and I sat together midst the chaos of preparing lunch for our children, we sometimes dreamed of a day in the future when our children were in school and we could open a little restaurant downtown, where we would ladle out our homemade soups and bake our own bread, to satisfy the noontime appetites of nearby workers.  That dream never came to pass, although I do think about it at times as I stir a pot of simmering soup on my kitchen stove.

Later, in the 1990’s, the trend for small shops of all types blossomed, and my heart was filled with a dream of opening a shop of my own, with a hodgepodge of merchandise that was  popular in those days that celebrated the Victorian era of a hundred years before.  Shops were brimming with teapots, antique lace, old quilts, books and teddy bears.  How I longed for a shop in an old brick building where I would always have a pot of coffee brewing and cozy chairs for shoppers to sit and relax.  I treasured my visits to the lovely little shops in Stockbridge and Saratoga and Manchester, as ideas blossomed for the merchandise I would carry and the atmosphere I would create in my own shop.  I read books about the business of owning a shop, and counted the years until all of my children were grown and I was free to devote my heart and hands to my shop.

However, fate intervened, and instead my husband started an electrical contracting business in which I was responsible for the office administration — not something which interested me, but a necessary turn of events in my life.  My dreams were put on hold as I dealt with estimates and shop drawings, and accounting, rather than teacups and lace.  When my children were grown, and my dream of a shop could have been fulfilled, I was working instead in the office each day.  Time passes swiftly.  Fifteen years after opening, our business was forced into bankruptcy by the recession, and at the same time, most of the little shops I had loved to visit were shuttered and replaced by chain stores and a new generation of consumers who had no desire for the types of merchandise these shops had carried.  

Recently I read an announcement of sale for a local used-book store.  It is a lovely little shop, with the coziness and warmth I had planned for my own shop.  And, I do so love books!  However, as much as my heart would love to purchase this store, my life is very different now.  I have a husband who needs me at home most of the day, grandchildren that I care for before and after school, a paltry income from Social Security, and a dwindling physical stamina.  

And so, the dream of a shop of my own will remain an unfulfilled dream.  Sometimes, though, the dream itself can be enough.  I still imagine the coziness of it all — the aroma of fresh coffee, the cozy chairs, the shelves filled with delicate teacups, lace-covered antique hats, lovely old jewelry, quilts, vases of fresh flowers scattered here and there, and conversations with my customers who would feel so welcome and warmed each time they visited.  Possibly, the imaginings are almost as fulfilling as the reality might have been.