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Monday, July 27, 2015

Little Gifts

Time has a way of reminding us of the things that are important.

I don't know the author of this statement, but I believe it's true. It also serves as a reminder for me to pay more attention to the little joys in life.

I awoke one recent day to a cloudy, calm morning. Although I thrive on sunshine, I have to admit that a cloudy day is a welcome break from time to time. The temperature was a pleasant 65 degrees, so I took my cup of hot tea and the daily newspaper out onto the patio. As I sipped my tea and read the paper, my two dogs happily explored our large back yard. Many mornings are either too hot or too windy to sit outside. But that morning was just perfect, and it reminded me how much I used to enjoy taking my tea and newspaper outside. The older I get, the more I appreciate these little gifts.

While in Botswana last month, I opted to do one last early morning game drive while my traveling companions chose to sleep late. Although my guide and I didn't spot any exciting animals, I so enjoyed just being outside on a beautiful morning, trying to soak up every last view of the African landscape while enjoying the morning's soft, warm light.

One morning at home, as I was getting dressed, I noticed a fiery red sunrise. I hurriedly finished dressing, slipped on some shoes and grabbed my camera. I was rewarded with some gorgeous photos.

Little things such as taking my daughter out for lunch or dinner are more special now that she has moved out of my house. And knowing that she calls me first when anything good (or bad) happens in her life. It's great to know that she turns to me first. And when I was gone for 3-1/2 weeks earlier this year, she called me in Turkey just because she wanted to talk to me. That is a special gift, whether she realized it or not.

Yellowstone National Park is my favorite place to visit in the U.S. I love the openness, the thermal features, the wild bison and the wolves. Oh, the wolves. Although they tend to stay well away from humans, I have been fortunate enough to see the Lamar Canyon pack several times, both through spotting scopes and with the naked eye. And I have heard their plaintive howls. That is always a special gift.

Sometimes when I am out walking, I spot a coyote or two. I never feel threatened by them, but I am particularly vigilant if my dogs are with me. I cherish listening to a pack of coyotes yip and howl at night.

Today, as I often am when I walk outside, I was struck by the amazing blueness of the New Mexico sky.  The clean air, low humidity and high altitude make the sky in this state absolutely gorgeous.

I am taking care of my daughter's dog while she is on vacation. He is a big, goofy, somewhat ungainly two-year-old, and some of his antics make me laugh. As I was watering the plants in the front courtyard, I sprayed a stream of water at him. He went absolutely crazy, tearing around the courtyard and then attacking the water as it came out of the hose. I just stood there laughing at this goofball.

I don't especially like waking up really early, but I do enjoy the early morning quiet and the cool, fresh air. It's a great time to be outside, just as the sun is coming up and before the streets get crowded with cars. It's a special time of day that I treasure.

Although I live in the high desert, this year has been exceptionally rainy, which is wonderful. One summer evening, I let the dogs into the back yard and just sat on the covered patio listening to the rain and enjoying the coolness of the evening.

Many of the little things that I so treasure come from nature: the sound of rain on the skylight, a beautiful sunrise or sunset, the howling of coyotes, the way the morning air smells after the rain, the beautiful purple flowers of the Russian sage that is so common in this area. Other gifts are laughing at the antics of my dogs as they play, growl at each other and roll around on the ground. This is a gift because, although they are sisters, they don't often play together.

It's the little things -- too often overlooked -- that make life special.