Posted tagged ‘rituals’

“Morning is the dream renewed, the heart refreshed, earth’s forgiveness painted in the colors of the dawn.”

August 28, 2017

I love these cool and sunny mornings. When I take Gracie out, I sit on the shaded back steps for a while until I get cold or until I can smell the coffee.

There is something wonderful about mornings. The whole day is in front of me. I can do what I please and seldom have expectations as to what the day might bring. I take everything as it comes. Sometimes I have lists, but they are more like guidelines. If I don’t want to do anything, I don’t. There’s always tomorrow.

My morning rituals take about 5 minutes to complete before I can sit and drink my coffee, also a ritual I suppose. They are the only parts of the day which never change. I take Gracie out and then feed her and Maddie breakfast. The two patiently wait knowing what’s coming. After breakfast each gets a treat. Maddie’s patience is usually gone by then, and she meows at me while Gracie just sits waiting. Satisfied, the two then take their first naps of the day.

When I was a kid, I was seldom home on a summer day. I’d go to the playground or  roam around on my bike. My mother never really knew where I was at any given time,  but she didn’t worry. No mothers worried back then. Our world was small, confined mostly to the neighborhood, the school and church and to the main square of our town where the library, the movie theater and the stores were. Nothing bad ever happened when I was a kid.

My mother taught us not to talk to strangers. I figure she was just hedging her bets. My town didn’t have strangers. I think my father knew everybody. He and my mother had lived there since before high school, before they’d met each other. I was simply George’s oldest, and people would stop me and say hello and tell me to say hello to my mother or father or both.

I hitchhiked when I was a senior in high school and when I was in college. I also hitched when I was in Ghana which was a quicker way to get home than to wait for the lorry to fill. Never did I think of my mother and her admonition about strangers. I just wanted to get from one place to another. Nothing ever happened. I never even felt threatened. That’s the way it was back then.

“How terribly strange to be 70.”

August 17, 2017

The morning is again glorious. The sun is wonderfully bright, the sky looks like the blue in a Van Gogh painting, and there is no humidity. Here it is August, and there is no humidity. The days are in the high 70’s and the nights in the mid 60’s. If I were Mother Nature, I couldn’t do better than today.

Every morning I put the coffee on then Gracie and I go get the papers. After the first paper and cup of coffee, I feed the animals. Each of my companions, Gracie and Maddie, have two dishes: one for dry and one for canned food. After filling their dishes, I have another cup of coffee and read the Cape Times. It seems my morning rituals are etched in stone. Maddie and Gracie have expectations so I seldom divert from the usual.

I have wonderful memories of growing up. At times I seem to have an idyllic view of my life back then mostly because I held on to the good with all my might and pushed the bad memories to the backs of my memory drawers. The things I remember aren’t milestones in my life. They are simply the good memories.

My life is filled with lucky choices. One you hear most about is my time in the Peace Corps, in Ghana. My hopes, my beliefs and my sense of self grew out of those two plus years. I can’t imagine what my life would have been without that experience. I think of all the places I’ve traveled, all the strange, weird foods I’ve tried and the wonderful people I’ve met, but mostly I think of how easy it has been to pick up and go to unfamiliar places and never feel lost or alone. Ghana gave me that.

Today I turned 70. It feels no different than yesterday when I was 69. It feels no different than when I turned twenty or thirty, but I don’t look the same. My hair is mostly gray. My face is wrinkled. My back hurts so I sometimes walk stooped. But what hasn’t changed are the basics of who I am, all I believe, all I know and all I have experienced through time. For that I am immensely thankful. For that I celebrate turning 70.

“I believe in rituals.”

October 16, 2014

Last night it rained and today it is supposed to rain again, heavily. The sun is popping in and out of the clouds. The temperatures of the last couple of days have been in the 70’s with mild nights in the 60’s. My windows are opened and the front door still has its screen. Gracie sits there and looks out for the longest time. I wonder what keeps her interest as my street is a quiet one. I stand with her every now and then just to keep her company.

All my life I have had morning rituals. During my childhood the weekday mornings were always the same. Get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, do teeth then walk to school. For breakfast I always drank cocoa. My mother gave us toast and eggs and in the winter we had oatmeal, the sort which always has lumps. When I was in high school, I had to get up earlier and getting the bus was added to the ritual. In college, I grabbed breakfast on the way out, and every morning my friends and I would sit together in the canteen, drink coffee and race each other in finishing the newspaper’s crossword puzzle. Usually we worked in teams of two. When I was in Ghana, I had the same thing every morning: horrible coffee, two fried eggs and toast. The eggs were cooked in peanut oil, and they were the best fried eggs I ever had. If I had a break in classes, I’d walk to my house and have another cup of coffee and sit on the porch to drink it. Breakfast never varied. I had margarine on my toast as butter was imported and not in my budget. I’d sometimes add groundnut paste, the Ghanaian version of thick, thick peanut butter which needed to be mixed with peanut oil to make it spreadable. The Ghanaians used it as a soup base. Those mornings in Ghana were amazing, every single day.

When I started teaching, I got up 5, had two cups of coffee, read as much of the paper as I could, got dressed and left for school at 6:20. On the way to school, I’d stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for a medium coffee. I did that every weekday until I retired.

In retirement I haven’t changed much though now I get up whenever. I feed the cats, fill the water dish, fill the dog’s dry food dish, let the dog out, put the coffee on and get the papers in the driveway. Sometimes I have toast and sometimes I have a bagel but mostly I just have coffee, usually two cups, one with each paper. I take my time reading the papers. I then check my e-mail and finally start writing Coffee.

I think of my mornings as ritual, as almost sacred.

“Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.”

October 1, 2013

My mornings are leisurely. I brew the coffee, get the papers from the driveway, grab a cup of coffee when it’s finished brewing then sit down and read the papers. I generally read everything from the headlines to the sports pages. I do two crossword puzzles and one cryptogram. I check the local weather. I seldom know anyone on the Names page in the Globe. Today I knew two, actors who are in town for filming. With each paper, I drink a cup of coffee. Every now and then I drink a third. This morning, though, was a bit different. I had a strange burst of energy caused, I think, by the broken planter and the dirt all over the floor of my dining room which I noticed right away when I came downstairs. It must have fallen during the night, and I never heard it. Obviously Gracie didn’t either as she didn’t bark at the noise. I cleaned up the mess and found a new pot for the plant then ended up watering the rest of the plants, all before I my usual morning ritual. While the coffee was brewing, I swept the kitchen floor and lemon oiled the small wooden whatever it’s called on my kitchen counter. It has two drawers. That’s my only hint as to what it might be. Then and only then did I get my coffee and sit down with the papers. I feel as if I have put in a whole day’s work. Not only that but I also finally dusted the shelves in this room. I did that last night. For some unknown reason, I have become Sally homemaker. I am hoping there is a cure.

According to the Cape Times, it will be in the 70’s every day this whole week while the nights will drop to the 50’s. That sounds ideal to me.

Already I can see the sun has begun its fall journey and has shifted to shine at a different angle than it had all summer. In my garden, the autumn flowers have bloomed, and they are lovely. Purple ones are the newest. The anemones I bought and planted seemed to have settled into the garden and a couple are blooming. Every time I looked at that front garden, I am tempted to buy more flowers, especially with the warm days still coming. Today I’m going to the farm stand for tomatoes and whatever else catches my eye. If, by chance, I happen upon some more flowers, I might just buy them. Let’s face it: I probably will buy them. I am a sucker for flowers.

“Gee, do they still make wooden Christmas trees?”

November 26, 2012

Today is a pretty day filled with sunlight and a clear blue sky. It’s even warm at 48 degrees. The leaves at the end of the branches are blowing, but the wind is gone. It’s a day to get out and do something.

My dance card for the week is fuller than usual, with usual being empty. Wednesday and Thursday are booked, and Skip will be by to put up my outside Christmas lights on Friday so I’ll have to scurry and get my wreaths. I love that errand: walking among the trees and wreaths and filling my nose with the smell of Christmas.

My father and his sister and Christmas trees are a part of my memories. My father used to go with my mother to pick out and buy the tree. He was always aghast at the prices and would try to convince my mother to go with a sparser, less expensive tree. My mother, at heart a Christmas elf, would never agree. She wanted the fullest of all trees, and my father usually gave in. The tree took up a whole corner of the room and was always beautiful. My aunt, my father’s younger sister, would drop by to visit and always admired the tree. She’d say something about how expensive it must have been which was really a subtle way to get the price. She and my dad had a yearly unacknowledged competition as to which one of them had bought the cheaper but more beautiful tree. My father always lied. We knew it and I think she did too. No matter how expensive the tree had been, my father always said $15 or $20, and my aunt was always amazed. None of us ever said a word about the real cost of the tree. We enjoyed the family ritual, the always rigged tree competition.

 

“I saw old Autumn in the misty morn Stand shadow less like silence, listening To silence.”

November 4, 2012

As fall days go, this one is just about perfect. The sun is sharply bright, the air is clear and it’s chilly, around 45˚ chilly, not quite coat weather yet. When I went to get the papers early this morning, I could smell fall. I could smell the fallen leaves and the crispness of the air. Someone had a fire going. I noticed the yellow maple leaves had fallen on the grass in a pattern drawn from a painter’s palette. I stood and took in my little bit more of my world then grabbed the papers and went inside to a house filled with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. My senses were in overdrive.

Gracie got loose this morning. We had just gotten back from breakfast and were on our way into the house when she pulled her head out of her collar and took off down the street. She did me the courtesy of looking back at me as she ran. I called her and was totally ignored. I took out my phone and called my friends, but no one was home. Then I saw my neighbor moving his car and asked him to call Gracie. She, of course, went right to him, gave him a hug and a bunch of kisses. He held on to a wiggly, happy Gracie until I could put her collar back on. Right now she is sleeping, resting from her exploits.

Sunday has a different feel about it than any other day of the week. Saturday was the day for errands so Sunday is a slow day, a day for taking time. On Sunday mornings, breakfast with my friend is a ritual for us. It is when we catch up with one another. Our breakfast is slow by intent and always has plenty of time for an extra cup of coffee. When I come home, I finish reading the papers. The crossword puzzle is saved for last, and I keep going back to it during the day until I finally give up. A nap is inevitable. Tonight my friends and I will play a few games, eat some appetizers as we play then we’ll watch The Amazing Race together.

I love traditions and rituals. They are connections over time, and they are to be cherished even in such simplicity as a morning breakfast or a game of cards.