Weird accounting aside, here I am Monday morning, ass in chair, writing. It’s wet, gray and autumn-ish except for a late-summer lingering mugginess. I’m looking out my window (yep, I am an old-school typist) at the fattest cardinal I have ever seen.
In fact, it doesn’t look like a cardinal at all–sort of pale colored with a bright gray beak and reddish tail feathers. In fact, I probably would have mis-identified if a spectacularly red parent weren’t a few branches above mirroring the small fat bird’s every move. It has to be a fledgling.
The back yard cardinals, hopping from one thin honeysuckle-entwined branch to another in the tangle of burning bushes along the fencerow, remind me on this news-addled Monday morning that there are indeed many things to be thankful for.
Sometimes I forget. Just a quick example:
When a woman comes forward with accusations of sexual assault against a man who is seeking a lifetime appointment on the highest court in our judicial system, accusations that will forever change the course of not only her life, but also the life of her family, and she is vilified and called a liar by the President of the United States, I forget to be thankful.
When I see a group of Republican women on TV discussing the allegations, and one of the women claims that all 17 year old boys act that way, I forget to be thankful.
Some days it takes a lot of reminding.
I’m going to be honest here, sometimes reminding myself that there’s a lot to be thankful for seems like a luxury, an indulgence I can’t afford. And then I read some Emily Dickinson–Find ecstasy in life–the mere sense of living is enough–and realize that being thankful is not a luxury at all. It’s a necessity.
So that’s where I’m headed this Monday morning in this winding and meandering–looking out the window at the still yellow honeysuckle blooming, and the still green grass growing, and one really fat cardinal, and tiny chipmunks, and a single green pepper plant that refuses to quit–essay.
The world outside the window, just what I can see from my desk, gives me plenty to be thankful for.
An Abecedarian, from where I sit,
Angles of grey light through branches of the white pine trees, and the Breeze ruffling leaves, and my iced Coffee with simple syrup and soy milk, and those tenacious Dandelions refusing to give up, and the squared off Edges of pallets from Sydni’s wedding now a Fence covered with trumpet vines, and the box Garden my dad crafted from treated lumber and filled with Humus and manure and topsoil, and the Honeysuckle I can’t help but love, and even the poison Ivy (well not the poison Ivy, but I need an I), and the Jangle of wind chimes my neighbor brought back from the Philippines, and Kindness and Love and Memory and Notepads with lists and reminders and wishes, and Oscillating fans for their whispery sound and wind, and Pencils and Pens and Paper and Prayers, and the Quizzical turn of a pug dog’s head.
Should I go on?
How about the Red crested feathers of the cardinal, or the air Swollen with cricket and cicada Song?
How about the Ta-wheee of the killdeer, the Usefulness of the garden hoe leaning against the pallet fence, the Whistle of the car wheels against the Wet pavement.
I’m skipping X and Z, but I will say that I’m grateful to, thankful for, and wildly in love with Yellow–Yellow leaves, Yellow mums, the Yellow beach shovel lying atop the dirt pile, and the old Yellow bee swing hanging on the chipped black swing frame we bought and never used.
Listen, I know it’s a bit contrived–this ABC thing–and still I love it. I love the shape it. I love the broad yet constrictive form. I love the exercise of fitting my thoughts into something already created. And doing this particular exercise–giving thanks–forces me to acknowledge how fucking small we and our problems are. The world is so big and so beautiful.
A couple of weeks ago I began my post with a quote from Emily Dickinson. This week, I am going to end with the one that got me started today.
Find ecstasy in life–the mere sense of living is joy enough.