One of my dear college friends recently tagged me in a note on FB. I preferred not to respond there, but rather, here. The original name of this meme was “7 Loves” but I decided to change the name as well; however, I am going to limit this list to seven things that never fail to please me out of all proportion to their size. Additionally, this list is not ranked in order of particular preference, because at any given time, one of the items may please me more than another. You know how it is. Once again, I’m not tagging, but feel free to play along if you like.
I love radical weather. I love wind. I love the scents it brings. I love the feel of it on my face, in my hair, down my shirt. I love roiling clouds overhead and heat lightning in the summer. I love the contrast of light when the sun angles down in the west against a bank of slate-gray, threatening clouds in the east and a brilliant rainbow connecting them. I love the soft whispering sound of snow when it falls, the kiss of rain on thirsty garden plants, the stillness of summer when the cicadas sing and you can hear the ants crawling. I especially love the violent things, the storms and hail and pouring rain, even if I may not love the aftermath so much. Nothing connects be back to my essential being faster than a good storm. One day I’ll go on a storm chasing trip and see tornadoes. I may complain about it, but I love the weather here in Pueblo most of all.
Who doesn’t love food, right? But it’s not just the eating of it, which is, of course, a subject for an entire post. And if you’ve seen my pictures, you’ll know I love to eat. But I also love the whole idea of food as a subject, a genre, a way of life. I love to read about food, to watch programs about food, I love growing it, preparing it, sharing it, studying it. I love to learn about the regions of the world through the classroom of the kitchen. When I was working as a banquet manager for a large hotel chain, most of my staff was from other countries. I LOVED talking to them about their native foods, and I like to think that they appreciated my interest (one young man later asked me to help him study for his citizenship exam). Once, when I was married to my 2nd husband, he told me there was a young intern at the paper who was from Algeria and he wanted to know if we could invite her to dinner. I said of course and went to research Algerian food. There were many involved dishes, but I found a particular bread recipe and made a big batch in addition to the “traditional” American fare of burgers, etc. When we greeted her in our house and I put the plate of bread down in front of her, she seemed so surprised that 1) someone had bothered to think about what she might eat at home, and 2) that it was correct–“just like home!”–was the best compliment she could have given me, as well as telling me it was tradition in her country to greet a guest with a plate of just that bread. We had a wonderful time, even though all she did was nibble on the bread for the whole night, and I sent her home with what was left as a batch of true comfort food.
I don’t remember not knowing how to read. Since forever, I have found solace and adventure in books. As a kid with lots of allergies, I took a weekly trip to the doctor for shots. Every Saturday morning, my dad took me to the office where I dutifully held out my arm to be poked with the stuff that kept me breathing during the week. I could practically overlook the agonizing anticipation of an injection by thinking about what happened afterwards–a trip to the library where I was allowed to get whatever books I wanted. At that time, it was cowboys and horses, all the way. Later, I moved to mythology, science fiction, fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction, historical fiction (as long as it wasn’t romantic!), spy thrillers, reference books, genealogy, and everything in between. My parents never set limits on what I could read, and neither did my teachers or any librarian. I can’t not be around books. You can have your Kindle or your Nook. Give me a good solid book any day or night of the week. I can never get enough. Good words are strong food for the soul.
Even though I have really become a home-body in the last 3 years, I love to travel and see new places. When you travel anywhere, you get to experience different weather, eat different food, and read new books in anticipation of the trip. I love looking for new travel gadgets, lightweight and handy things that make schleping all the travel necessities easier. Though I must say that since my trip to Spain in 2007, I have learned that I don’t really need much to travel quite well. I try to be as unobtrusive as I can when I travel. I want the places I go to impact me instead of the other way around. I like to sit in quiet cafes and listen to local talk (even if I don’t always understand the language). I like to walk and wander, with or without a guide book. I have learned to enter the “travel bubble” when I leave my house and to understand that whatever happens while in the “travel bubble” is supposed to happen and that at the end, it will all bring me back home with better stories to tell.
I have to work on Christmas day this year, as it falls on a Friday. However, if I didn’t, my only wish for a Christmas present would be to be dropped off at the movie theater when it opens and to be picked up on Christmas night when it closes. I enjoy watching movies at home, but nothing, nothing, beats sitting in a dark movie theater, alone, getting lost in a story until the whole place around you disappears and you literally go into the movie. G doesn’t understand that; in fact, most people don’t. They look at movies as a place to go WITH someone. I do enjoy that, but more, it’s a place to travel without leaving your seat. I “go away” when I watch a movie. I’m there. I’m with the characters, I’m in the location, I’m swept away by the story. And if I’m not, for whatever reason, I really feel cheated and cranky. It took a long time for G to understand that when I said, “Do you want to watch a movie?” here at home, that meant actually sitting down on the couch and WATCHING the movie–it didn’t mean having the movie on while she made a quilt, or mopped the floor or ran the vacuum. That’s what you do during Dr. Phil. Movies are way too important to waste like that!
How much to I love movies? So much that I actually prefer NOT to have popcorn etc. when I watch them. Movies trump food in the movie theater.
6. This house.
When I first went into this house to look at the possibility of buying it, I didn’t really like it all that much. It seemed small and dark. And G bought it with all the furniture and everything still here, so really, I’ve never seen it empty. But now, going on 8 years here, this place seems bigger and lighter the longer we live in it. I love this house. I love its sturdy concrete-ness. I love the yard on the corner, and its openness (even though I still miss the big trees), and the way we’ve been able to configure and re-configure the yard and garden areas as new ideas hit us. I love the porch we put on. I love the meditation garden we enclosed in the back, and I love how the ground seems to respond to the love and energy we put into it, and give us back so much more than we could ever expect. I love that my daughter and her husband and the grandkids painted the house this summer and that the colors pick up the shades of sunrise and sunset here in Pueblo. I’ve only ever felt this way about one other house, and I got ripped away from it with no say-so in the matter. It took a long time to recover from that, and from then till now, I never really thought of any place as “home”. But finally, I can say I have put down my roots. I hope to travel many more places in the world with the time that’s left to me, but in the end, this is where I will always return.
The older I get, the less able to tolerate noise I become. Even conversation sometimes is just too much. I think that’s why I love the Internet and e-mails and IMs so much–I can be my introverted self and still communicate richly and broadly. There are times when I just CRAVE silence and can’t get enough of it. Two years ago, I went on a guided vision quest on Navajo Land in Arizona. For three days and two nights I was alone in an area where the silence was so profound, there were times I felt like I had cotton stuffed in my ears. Out there, the silence sucks up sound like a sponge–there is room to accommodate the noises we make every day just by being alive. I spent a lot of those days sitting and just enjoying the silence. When I find myself in a particularly loud or distracting situation, I take a moment to go back into my sacred, silent circle, with the new crescent moon hanging overhead. All the noise around me seems to fall away, and after a bit, I can jump back in with the rowdies.
These are the things that feed my soul as well as my palate or body. I’m lucky enough to have had a lifetime of great experiences with all of them so far, and if things keep going as planned and hoped, more experiences will come.
I wish for all of you 7 special things you love that bring you joy and happiness and peace.