Last week closed with a cool, sun-blasted hike through the Jacksonville Woodlands. The climb fit the bill for fooling my body into thinking this would be a week of healthful endeavors.
More of the trail was uphill than my heart or I remembered, but the red velvet bark of madrones glinting in the sun and varieties of birds I don’t normally find helped distract me from the tom-tom sounding in my chest. Otherwise, the quiet seemed nearly palpable until we stepped through piles of leaves so crisp that the crackling sounded like poppers.
We located the old sluice mine and shot selfies (hoping it would make us look youthful by contrast) with a de-frocked wreck of a car, a Studebaker possibly.
The new week opened with the promise of wetter things. As I watched my lawn and shrubs wither and wane, I recalled my perhaps unwise Facebook post about never wanting to see October’s end. Day upon day of clear, dry skies surrounded by a valley full of tinder began to get on my nerves. But I woke each morning to a fog-free welcome and smiled through my concern, thinking we’d been given an extension of fine weather because of our smothered summer. I’d gotten my wish.
Indian summer days were made for walking, and that’s just what I did. But recently along the trail, I met Dovi, a jubilant, white fluff ball of a pup walking his human. It was mid-November and her human said, “”Nice day, eh? Not hot.” I agreed and then to my horror realized that we were agreeing that it wasn’t hot in mid-November. No, it shouldn’t be anywhere near hot in mid-November. It shouldn’t even be lukewarm. What were we smiling about? Nevertheless, I left the house with a jacket and peeled it off about halfway through the route. Weather was amiss.
Yesterday, at long last, the anticipated storm front began creeping in, making its presence known. I woke to pitter-patter sounding on my roof and exhaled a prayer of sincere gratitude, though I was officially one day premature. Then, expectant and gleeful, I peered through the curtains and realized it was only the pitter-patter of vanquished leaves and not the rain for which I’d uttered thanks.
I figured the next step might be venturing out for a long walk totally without rain gear. It might serve to hurry things along, taunting fate, as it were, but no. The trees rained leaves that swirled and scuttled around me like mischievous pixies, but not one drop fell. I stared at the clouds, making eye contact. I called them big bags of wind. Finally, they could withstand no further humiliation, and let loose their pent-up flow, but not on me.
I’m writing this on Thanksgiving night, and I’m finally and sincerely thankful for the rain. I enjoyed a feast with my dear cousins earlier. Ironically, as one who tries my darndest to show love to my fellow man and shun “white death,” I carried an arsenal of sugar and fat over their threshold. You don’t want to know how many calories are in cranberry fluff salad. The word salad should be illegal here. As for pecan pie, you may as well chug a bottle of Karo dark. I brought an apple pie for health food.
Tonight I’m thankful for the vegetables in my life, especially Brussels sprouts.
Seriously, I’m most thankful for the gracious people in my life, of which there are many faithful and supportive members, with fresh ones added all the time.
Our holiday season has commenced! Let’s carry thankfulness forward, extending it well beyond a day and into one another’s lives, not as cliché, but as a double-edged blessing.
Reach freelance writer Peggy Dover at email@example.com and on her Facebook page.