Friday, November 28, 2014

Thankful for the small things

A lone pelican works our cove, swooping with his huge beak pointed downward, keen eyes following fingerlings below the surface of the water.

He spots a fat one and forming a dagger with his body, he plunges, then bobs to the surface, tilts his enormous beak upward and lets his holiday hors d’oeurvre slip down his throat.

Then, extending his neck, he spreads his wings wide, flaps once, twice, and rises again into the hazy sunshine.  Magnificent.  Serene.  Emblematic of the beauty of nature and the cycle of life.

Across the alley, my neighbor’s boys jump on their trampoline, rising above the fence line in counterpoint, their longish hair rising too, outward, and their arms for balance.  Their young voices call out into the crisp air. 

Leaves on the gingko tree in their yard fan out yellow now.  And behind it, what is that tree?  Scarlet!  Dazzling.

My cat hops onto my lap as I write, turns and curls into her coziest configuration, pushing her nose and lips against my hand as she goes.  Her predecessor lived to 21 years so I’m hoping she will accompany me into my old age.  We are of like minds, after all.

I hear our boomerang son in his room below me, cajoling his online international team members in World of Warcraft.  He’ll be with us another year or so as he reestablishes himself on solid ground this time.  He’s smart and strong and good.  Just like we hoped and planned for, if a little tardy.

Mr. Plath and I have been married almost 25 years now and we have that easy comfort of a pair of old shoes. 

2015, our Silver Anniversary year is shaping up to be a memorable one:  He’s retiring come February and already dancing the happy dance of a short-timer.  A party is definitely in the offing. 

We’re planning a nostalgic repeat of our honeymoon trip to Niagara Falls coupled this time with a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  While we’re in the neighborhood, we might head over to Fenway Park to see Pablo Sandoval play.

There’s even talk of a third pilgrimage to Alaska this year to catch some halibut for the freezer – you really only need one!  Maybe we’ll go to Kodiak Island this time.  See glaciers and bald eagles.  And a moose.  Or a grizzly.  Through the binoculars!

That book I vowed to complete in 2014 is close to its checkered flag.  One last push and I’ll move it to the next phase, still muddling along, learning as I go.

On Facebook, past students send out their Thanksgiving wishes.  Some are married with babies and toddlers and I feel like a virtual grand-mamma.  The least taxing role of all, but still heartwarming.  Maybe before too long the Boomerang Kid will produce some progeny and we will be real-time actual grandparents! 

Oklahoma friends and family send smiling pictures and “wish you were here!”  Out of focus or too far from the lens – it’s OK.  The message still hits the mark.

I have it easy for Thanksgiving dinner again this year.  The Plath family gathers in Sacramento.  Siblings, spouses and the next generation, and the next, arrive bearing side dishes.  Cheesy broccoli and rice casserole.  Candied yams.  My sister-in-law is the only person I’ve ever met who doesn’t want leftovers.  She always sends lots of turkey home with us.  Yum!

My beloved 94-year-old father-in-law will make the trek and hold court at the dinner table.  Seeing him gaze into the eyes of his great-granddaughter is mystical and life-affirming.

These next few weeks leading up to Christmas and the New Year are some of my favorites – joyful and sentimental.  I’ll decorate the house this weekend and have as many mini-parties as I can to share it and show it off and celebrate.

Oh!  A pair of swans glides across the cove now!  And Pachelbel on the radio!  My mother would love this!  She raised me on classical music and Audubon.  Thanks Mom. 

So there it is – my thanks-giving. 

I could go on, but you get the gist.  Life is so good.  Bittersweet and sweet.  Better than I ever imagined it could be.   

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.