The Joy of Camping

Prior to the 19th century, most Americans viewed nature as solely a resource for food, clothing, and shelter. However, by the early 20th century, American families began to discover the joy of camping outdoors, spending their vacation time sleeping under the stars, fishing, hunting, canoeing, hiking, and or backpacking; due, at least in part, to the transcendental movement inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and other early environmentalists. National and State Park systems were developed including the Forest Service. Campgrounds were established, offering places for people to set up their tents, cook on fire pits, collect fresh water, picnic by a stream or lake, take a long walk in the woods, and nap in the sun on a beautiful summer day.

I grew up spending all my family vacations camping by a pristine lake in the remote backwoods of northern Canada; canoeing, preparing meals over an open fire, sleeping on the ground in a lean-to, and listening to the lonely cries of a loon.

When I left home, I worked for the National Park Service for a few years, spending my days hiking the trails and picking up garbage. On weekends, my friends and I explored more out-of-the-way spots in the park systems, camping out in the open air with just our sleeping bags.

I met my husband camping and later, whenever work responsibilities became too much or when difficult decisions needed to be made, we went camping. Long conversations by a fire. Extended hikes in the backcountry. Gazing at the stars on a moonless night.

When our children were born, family camping vacations seemed as natural as rain. We explored national and international parks, upgrading our equipment as we went along, always trying to maintain a certain sense of simplicity, escaping the urban world, experiencing wonderful wild places, and appreciating the art of getting closer to nature. In fact, I think, most of our fondest family memories were made on our camping trips.

I just returned home from a memorable camping trip with our son and his girlfriend, jaunting back to some of the same places I hiked as a young woman. Many things have changed drastically, other things – not so much. But every night we settled into our little camping spot and once again, appreciated the passage of time in the simple ritual of sharing a meal outdoors, watching an elk saunter in the nearby meadow, playing a board game, laughing at commonalities, and letting go of all those things that don’t really matter. Camping by far is my favorite season.

“We can never get enough of nature.” Henry David Thoreau

How did you find solace this week?

Sharon

© 2022. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

Diamonds on the Lake

One of my favorite things to do in summer is to take my kayak out on the large lake near my home. Because there are many people who also enjoy getting out on the water, I tend to prefer a quieter weekday morning, especially when the winds are light and variable, providing just the right amount of breeze –not too hot, not too cold.

This morning was one of those mornings. The day dawned without a cloud in the sky and my husband, and I loaded the kayaks on top of the truck and drove the few miles to a boat launch. When I put my kayak in the water, there were diamonds on the lake. That wonderful phenomenon of the bright sun reflecting off the cerulean blue water.  

I quickly settled into the rhythm of my paddle gliding from side to side and before long we were out of the bay and into the deeper and wider part of the lake. I could see a few sailboats in the distance, their white sails billowing nicely with the gentle wind. Thoughts of book marketing my new book vanished, replaced with the joy of just enjoying the moment.

After about an hour, we came to a small pebble beach, where we got out, and sat on an old washed-up beaver-eaten log, soaking up the warm rays from the mid-morning sun.

My husband said, “These are the best skipping stones ever.”

I watched him skillfully skip stone after stone as if they were ballerinas leaping and pirouetting over the water. When I try to skip stones, they usually plop a couple of times before sinking below the surface.

Heading back, we passed a series of tall cliffs, the diamond effect on the lake shimmering off the dark faces resembling a million butterflies in flight. I stopped paddling to admire the spectacle, letting my kayak bob in the quiet waves. The light and shadow shifted and changed so rapidly it seemed they were in a mesmeric waltz; a beauty that left me feeling light and weightless as if I too were somehow part of it. I breathed in a lungful of air, smiled, and turned my kayak toward home.

“Happiness depends on ourselves.” Aristotle  

How did you find solace this week?

Sharon

© 2022. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

A Good Movie

The first color-tinted films of the early 1900s were not very long, averaging only about eight minutes. Then, in the 1920s, the film industry started using Technicolor and began to make lengthier motion pictures. In 1928, The Academy Awards for motion pictures was created to celebrate movies, actors, producers, directors, etc. The movie Wings won the best picture that year and many great movies have been produced since that time: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930); Mutiny on the Bounty (1935); A Space Odyssey (1968); Titanic (1995); Babel (2006). I’ve always enjoyed a good movie; a chance to be immersed in a different world as if suspended in time. I especially appreciate viewing blockbuster historical films in a movie theater with a big screen and all-around sound.

Due to the Pandemic, I have not been to the movie theater in quite a while. So, today I decided to go see Top Gun: Maverick. Usually, I travel to a bigger metro center to see a movie because the theater in my small rural town is, well, outdated, overused with that strange, dark odor. But Maverick has been out for a few months already and most of the modern cinemas have moved on to newer hits.

I chose a matinee thinking it wouldn’t be busy and sure enough I had a whole row to myself with only about a dozen other people in the cinema. For two hours I was completely engrossed in a world of highly trained Naval pilots flying at Mach speeds, trying to outfox the enemy, while also struggling with the usual personal and interpersonal aspects of being human. My heart picked up speed at some of the dramatic stunts. It felt like I too might’ve been in the cockpit. It was wonderful to once again be swept away into a different world and have my worries and to-do list disappear for a bit. A chance to unwind, escape, laugh, cry, and feel energized and awake. Glad to be healthy, alive, and thankful for the opportunity to watch a movie once again on the big screen.

How did you find solace this week?

Sharon

© 2022. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

Ice

One of the things I love about summer is a cold glass of sparkling water with a twist of lemon or lime with lots of ice. I love the clink of the ice followed by the sizzle of the pour. I often drink this refreshing thirst-quencher on my back porch, appreciating the coolness, especially after working on the land in the hot sun.

My refrigerator has an ice maker where I can have ice whenever I want. I don’t know about you, but I think the refrigerator and the ability to make ice at any time is something I would have a really hard time living without. I open my refrigerator several times a day. What do I want for lunch or breakfast or dinner? Sometimes I just stare at the contents, especially after I’ve shopped, admiring all the colors.

The refrigerator for home use was not invented until the early 1900s, with the first self-contained unit being introduced to the American public around 1923. However, the refrigerator didn’t take off till about the 1930s with the creation of Freon. (Freon, of course, was banned in 1994 due to the harmful effects on the environment. Today, a safer refrigerant is used.) In the 1940s, about forty percent of American homes had a refrigerator and by the 1950s, when the price to buy a refrigerator went down, it became an essential kitchen appliance. Before modern refrigeration, people used to harvest ice from frozen lakes or ponds and store it in ice houses covered with sawdust until it was delivered to households by horse drawn wagons.

I grew up with a refrigerator, but my mother never took it for granted ‘nor did my older mother-in-law who was raised in a time when ice blocks were delivered and placed on top of her family’s “icebox.” As she was growing up, her family couldn’t make special dishes for guests ahead of time ‘nor stock up on fresh items. They couldn’t save leftovers and therefore always made their children eat everything on their plates, a habit passed down through the generations.

My mother and my mother-in-law were quite different people in almost every way except for their fascination, and possibly adoration, of the refrigerator and the freezer. A design that made their lives amazingly simpler and easier. Something I should always remember when I complain about cleaning it or when the power goes out.

“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” Thomas Fuller

How did you find solace this week?

Sharon

© 2022. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

The Natural Order of Things

Today dawned a clear blue-sky day, cool in the morning, warming up nicely in the afternoon. Perfect for the few chores I had planned: weeding out some of the thistles in the tall grasses; transplanting a few wildflowers; washing a window or two; sweeping the front porch. I didn’t get to the weeding until later, methodically combing through the dewberry, kinnikinic, and meadow grasslands.

With trowel in hand, I pushed back several tall swards and noticed a lovely circular nest burrowed at the base of a clump of grasses, near the ground, well-hidden from view. As I bent down to inspect it further a large garter snake slithered past, jolting me for a second. I watched the snake, who seemed to have a full belly, glide through a patch of clover and disappear.

Then, I focused my attention on the empty nest. With a few tugs, the nest easily became dislodged from its protective space. I marveled at the symmetry. A thousand blades of grass were woven into a perfect round, about three inches in diameter.

I went back to the house, located my Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds, and quickly found out that small, flat-headed grasshopper sparrows lay four to five creamy white, speckled eggs in well-concealed ground nests where I live; and although wide-spread, they tend to be secretive and therefore, often overlooked.

An image of the full-bellied snake floated through my head, and I contemplated that likely the snake had found the nest before I did. I felt a little sorry for the mama sparrow. But then again, the snake was probably happily basking in the sun somewhere.

For a moment I thought it might have been better to have discovered the nest just before the snake did and have chased it away. But it’s probably good I didn’t because when I try to fix things out of my control, I end up making things worse, only to feel guilty or sad that I just didn’t leave well enough alone, especially with the natural order of things.

“The best thing we can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” Henry Wadsworth

How did you find solace this week?

Sharon

© 2022. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

A Long Enduring Mind

When I lived in India, a teacher there once told me that I should cultivate a “long, enduring mind.”  At first, I didn’t know what he was talking about. The statement seemed more like a paradoxical anecdote or riddle. My mind tended to jump from one idea to another quite rapidly, more like a hummingbird buzzing from flower to flower than an eagle perched quietly on top of a high treetop observing the landscape for hours. I wrote the words down in big capital letters and underlined the statement.

At the time I believed I had to change the way I thought or remove my thoughts altogether which seemed daunting or even impossible. And whenever I scolded myself for not having extended periods of silence between my train of thoughts, my skipping-all-over-the-place mind only got more restless. So, I gave up trying to coax my mind to behave and just accepted the fact that I’d probably always be a little skittish.

To this day, I still leap from one notion to the next with lightning-quick speed. It irritates, maybe even exasperates, my loved ones and close friends who sometimes have a hard time following what I’m saying because, by the time I’ve voiced an opinion about something, for example, my mind has already moved on to the next shiny object.

“What? I didn’t get that,” or “Are you talking about…” or “I’m having a hard time following you,” are common comments, which in turn frustrates me. Don’t they know I’ve moved on to something else?

I’m not quite sure what that teacher might have been trying to tell me those many years ago, but I’ve interpreted a long and enduring mind to mean a mind that is far-seeing, tolerant, stable, and able to withstand the tides of change with grace. Because of that, I’m discovering solace in simply taking one day at a time. To laugh more and above all, to not take my thoughts, or me, so seriously. As each day passes, I’m reminded that life is too short not to.

“Don’t take life too seriously, you’ll never get out alive.” Bugs Bunny

How did you find solace today?

Sharon

© 2022. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

A Year of Solace

Every week, at the end of my blog, I write: How did you find solace this week? So, for this week, I would appreciate hearing from all of you on those things in your life that may have increased your well-being, brought you comfort, and or gladdened your heart. Here is a recap of my weekly Tuesday blogs—65 to be exact—on how I found solace for over a year now:

Old journals, autumn, the joy of writing

acceptance, taking a nap, publishing Sylvie

eating chocolate cake, cleaning my home

receiving handwritten notes from my loved ones

and

empty spaces, laughter, watching the moon

listening to music, letting go, dancing in the wind

water, slipping my feet

into timeworn moccasins

and

giving thanks, trying something new

a cup of tea

being nobody special

celebrating new beginnings

smelling wildflowers, reveling in a solitary day

and

cross-country skiing lost in daydreams

taking a break from things

being patient, never giving up, eating out

remembering that less is more

and

that color, the sky, truth, and the people in my life

are more precious and more beautiful than

I could ever find words.

The synonyms for solace are many: comfort, support, relief, soothe, console, ease, coziness, wellbeing, security, relaxation, and contentment. Solace will likely have a different meaning to each of you and I look forward to reading about what may have brought you consolation or reassurance this past year. Simply post a comment in the comments section after this blog or find me on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, or on the contact page on my website http://www.sharonkreider.com.

Here’s to another year of finding solace in all things great and small.

“I don’t consider myself a great talent, so the only solace I can take is to hope I’m growing.” Paul Simon

“True solace is in finding none, which is to say, it is everywhere.” G. Ehrlich

How did you find solace this week?

Sharon

© 2022. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

The Big Smoke

The Big Smoke means a large city in Australian lingo or slang. Some say it stemmed from the Aboriginal people who used the term for any European settlement, in contrast to the “small smoke” of their campfires. Others assert it was a popular phrase used by rural residents in nineteenth-century England when they traveled to London where they could see thick smoke enveloping the city, primarily caused by the burning of coal. The Smoke or the Old Smoke or the Big Smoke insinuates the same thing: a big, hustling, and bustling city.

I just got back from a few days in the Big Smoke and although probably not as smoke-filled as the days of coal factories and wood-burning stoves, it was still filled with lots of activity, commotion, hurry, and buzz. Everyone seemed in a rush. Small trucks, big trucks, work trucks, small and large recreational vehicles, sports cars, fancy cars, and old cars, were all vying for their spot on the freeway. Traffic came to a halt when a fire truck, ambulance, or police car needed to squeeze by. Jets, planes, helicopters, and seaplanes filled the sky. It was difficult to find a parking spot at any of the venues I needed to visit.

I tried walking whenever I could but often it did not work out well. A construction zone blocked access to an adjacent street. A sidewalk was temporarily closed or there were no walkways to places I had to get to. I thought going out to eat at a nice restaurant would be a great idea, but eateries were packed and maybe it’s just me, but holy cow! Are lunches as pricey as dinners now?  

There were great moments, though. I had a wonderful visit with my daughter who cooked and drove me around the Big Smoke with ease. I enjoyed the cultural diversity and the manicured parks, as well as the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of cultural events, but it was all fast-paced and my few days in the city seemed to pass in the space of a heartbeat.

When I got home, the first thing I did was take a leisurely walk in the forest near my quiet rural home, stopping now and again to breathe in the cool air from the recent rain and count my blessings, seeing my life as half-full and not for a moment half-empty. The Big Smoke represents a lot of different things to the people in my life, but for me, after a trip to the Big Smoke, I always reflect on everything that is good and true in my life. Which is a lot.

“The secret to having it all is knowing you already do.” Anonymous

How did you find solace this week?

Sharon

© 2022. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

A Cup of Tea

There are several anonymous quotes about tea that I like: a cup of tea makes everything better; tea is the elixir of life; tea is an answer to most problems; tea is always a good idea; life is like a cup of tea. But the quote by K. Cohen sums up my lifelong love affair with tea the best: “A cup of tea is a cup of peace.”

I drank black teas in my youth, such as English Breakfast, Earl Grey, or Darjeeling; steeped well and mixed with cream and sugar –the favored drink where I grew up. Later, when I returned from living in Asia, I drank chai and green tea. When I developed an intolerance to caffeine, I switched to only herbal teas.

These days, my preferred teas are primarily organic teas made with spices or herbs: chamomile lavender, cardamon with cinnamon and black pepper, turmeric ginger, and rose petals with lemon. I find the hot liquid mixed with these aromatic plants relaxes any tension I might have built up from sitting at a computer for extended periods or if I attended a meeting that didn’t end on time. Usually, the first thing I do when I get back from a vacation, a night out, or attending a conference is to make a cup of tea (even in the summer –which my kids think is a bit weird.) Blowing little ripples on the rim of my cup before sipping, relishing the quietude of doing nothing.

For me, tea is more than just a hot drink. It represents a time to unwind from the fast pace of everyday life. A simple practice to encourage my mind to let go of unhelpful or adverse thoughts. To appreciate all I have. See my life has half full, not half empty. To enjoy the moment. Be thankful. Or, as Thich Nhat Hanh suggests: “Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the earth revolves—slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”

How did you find solace this week?

Sharon

© 2022. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

Never Give Up

In 2010, I attended a writers’ conference that hosted a wide variety of classes, clinics, and talks. One of the seminars I selected was for a group luncheon with about eight agents and a few well-known editors; each sharing knowledge and recent information about the publishing world. They took turns speaking about a particular issue: self-publishing versus traditional publishing, queries, new author blunders, social media, and book marketing. I listened attentively and wrote things down I deemed most beneficial. Then the last speaker stood up.

She paused for a moment to look around the room. “Of all the guidance you will receive this weekend, I think the very best counsel is…” She cleared her throat and yelled, “Never Give Up!!”

Everyone laughed. Then we stood and clapped, shouting in unison, “Never Give Up!” I wrote those words in big bold letters in my notebook because the one thing I have always wanted to do was publish my memoir.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. Joined a professional writing critique group. Worked with skilled editors. Took classes. Researched. Cried. Shredded chapters. Met with agents. Queried. Cried some more. Wrote every day. Many times, I just wanted to throw in the towel. But those three little words kept rolling around in my head so I kept on writing; feeling a bit like the little engine that could (I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…)

So, at long last, after writing Sylvie and short stories and poems, my memoir, Wandering …a long way past the past, will be published and out later this summer. And this sometimes-clumsy writer will have finally accomplished a life dream. Never give up on yours.

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” R. Bach

How did you find solace this week?

Sharon

© 2022. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

Calypso Orchids

This week, whenever I needed to take a break from my writing, I usually went for a walk in the forest near my house, in search of the elusive Calypso Orchids in bloom this time of year. The orchid takes its name from the Greek word ‘calypso’ meaning concealment and only grows to be about three to six inches tall with one single leaf at the bottom. They are petite, delicate plants and are very susceptible to disturbance, even considered endangered in many states. With small pink or purplish flowers, they tend to favor sheltered areas on the conifer forest floor, preferring the moist soil of the northwestern old-growth forest. I have only found these flowers, native to North America, here and there, solitary gems peeking through the moss and fungi soil.

Today, I set out to find as many as I could; careful not to unsettle the soil around them. I smiled every time I noticed one; their showy rosy-pink pointed sepals and two pink petals above a hanging lighter pink slipper. I counted twenty-three.

I’m inclined to think of Calypso Orchids as special somehow –a flower to be revered, never picked or trampled upon. A flower that should be left untouched, kept in its natural state –safe, protected. Last year, whenever I saw one, I thought about my sister who died in December 2020. I still think of her from time to time, and it brings me great comfort when I see those fragile, graceful flowers popping out of the earth reminding me that for everything there is a season – a time to love, a time to weep, a time to die, a time to mourn, a time to heal, a time to laugh, and a time for peace.

For Angel

Eight delicate Calypso orchids

bloom under two large hemlock trees

their fragile pink petals open to the sky.

The soggy, damp moss underneath

yields to my soft touch

and the orchid’s stems tremble slightly in the breeze.

I remember you dying alone in a room

away from family and friends.

To take your last breath in this pandemic

by yourself

gives me no peace.

I watch the wildflowers for a moment longer

before leaving them untouched

to grow and die and live again.

How did you find solace this week?

Sharon

© 2021. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

Solitude

One of my favorite books is a children’s book titled, Island of the Blue Dolphins, written in 1960 by Scott O’Dell and first published in Great Britain by Constable & Co. The book is based on a true story of an American Indian girl abandoned in 1835 on a lonely rocky island off the Californian coast. After her younger brother’s tragic death, she survived eighteen years of great danger and suffering, with only birds and animals for friends. This moving story won several awards and captured my heart as a child. I still read the book from time to time.

I have always enjoyed periods of solitude in my life. A time to put friendship gatherings, conversations,  engagements, social events, and chatter on hold. I usually don’t get lonely or miss the vibrant energy of meeting with family, friends, or colleagues. Just the opposite. I cherish the moments to place my chaos to rest and awaken an inner calm. Perhaps, that is why I loved that little book so much.

After my intense travel week and several social gatherings, many with people I had not seen in years, I longed for solitude. So, I took this entire week to be by myself. I crossed out engagements on my calendar, canceled appointments, and re-scheduled a few meetings.

I have found myself letting out these long sighs for the past week. I’ve slept in. When writing, I make hot cups of tea and leisurely sip them at my desk. I take long walks on the trails near my house in the afternoons.

Everything has slowed down. And as I come to the close of my solitary week, I am already wishing I could keep going. For me, solitude is a great comfort.

“I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” Thoreau

There is a stillness

on the tops of the hills.

In the treetops

you feel

hardly a breath of air.

Simply wait: soon

you too will be silent.

                                             Goethe

How did you find solace this week?

Sharon

© 2022. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

The Sky

The airport was crowded, messy, and noisy. The flight attendant announced that we had to give up our carry-on luggage because the flight was too full. So much for packing light. When I got on the plane, I checked twice to make sure I got the seat assignment right –the middle seat in a non-reclining row. A bulky man got up to let me in and I settled in as best as I could between him and another bigger man. I am not a large person. Many would consider me small. I counted my breaths and kept telling myself, “I can do this. It’s not a problem.”

When I transferred flights in Dallas, four gate changes at different terminals resulted in several hops onto the train trams. I got to the right gate in time to board but missed lunch. That’s okay, I thought. I once again had a non-reclining seat, the latrine right behind me. Every time the toilet door opened; I got a whiff of something foul. Missing lunch was probably a good thing.

When I arrived at my destination, I had to wait a rather extended time at baggage claim for my carry-on. I was almost there; again, trying to be as optimistic as I could be. I had been up since 2:30 am for the hour and a half drive to the nearest international airport. After I got my carry-on, I had an even longer wait for a rental car. That’s okay, I thought once more.

My time back east was fast and furious (at least another blog’s worth), and I once again had to repeat the process to come home, my patience wearing thin.

I had a window seat on my last plane ride. Once we took flight, I looked out the tiny window and watched as the sun dipped toward the horizon lighting up the clouds with tinges of amber, crimson, and lavender. It was a beautiful sight, the sky above a perfect blue.

Whether I had forgotten how to fly due to the Pandemic or how to engage in the hustle and bustle of a family gathering or how to work through the kinks and strains of travel, I found such solace in looking at that sky as it changed from royal to navy blue, a few stars beginning to flicker in the distance. The comfort of something as basic as the sky reminding me once again that for those things that truly matter, all is well, and for everything else… it’s just weather.

How did you find solace this week?

Sharon

© 2022. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

Patience

Yesterday, after I taught my yoga class, a student remarked, “I’ve had it with this cold spring. I need it to warm up so I can sit outside and enjoy my lunch instead of still having to wear my down coat.” She fiddled with the rings on her finger.

I nodded because I too would like to sit outdoors at my favorite coffeehouse. Yet, I had to remind her of the heat dome from last summer. “I get it, but I don’t want it to warm up too fast. Remember what happened last year?”

She shook her head. “Yeah, but I’m done with this lingering icy feel of winter. I say, hurry up already.”

This year I do not feel a sense of urgency for anything to happen too fast. I will wait for the deciduous trees to fill the forest with their lush lime-green growth. I will wait to sit outside on my back porch without my winter jacket. I will wait for the summer flowers, the blueberries, the buzz of insects, and the lazy and hazy days of summer. I will wait to kayak on the lake or picnic at the beach, swim, and enjoy all the wonders that happen throughout our best season.

I am in no rush to hasten anything, whether it be the seasons, publishing my new book, increasing my social media following, or getting to those five things on my writing whiteboard. Which makes me think. Have I finally achieved some level of patience in my life? That quality I’ve admired in others –the art of enduring the ups and downs of life with serenity and forbearance, not complaining, enjoying the moment?

I don’t know. Maybe.

However, there is relief in not goading for events to emerge sooner rather than later. To allow things to unfold in their own good time without my tendency to persuade or urge things along, because in the not-so-distant future, I will likely be teaching my yoga class and a student will say, “It’s too hot. I can’t wait for winter.”

“Most pursue pleasure with such breathless haste, that they hurry past it.” S. Kierkegaard

How did you find solace this week?

Sharon

© 2022. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved.

Eating Out

For the past two years, I have rarely gone out to dinner. The Pandemic was one reason. The other was my favorite restaurants in town closed or went out of business. If I wanted to eat out, I had to drive an hour to the nearest, metro center.

So, this week when my husband suggested we go out for dinner, I enthusiastically replied, “When? Where?”

We agreed on a local eatery, recently renovated and under new ownership.

A young, well-dressed woman guided us to a table near a window. I smelled the hint of garlic wafting off tomato sauce and perhaps onions frying in butter, coming from the back kitchen. Several people sat at the polished mahogany bar. A party of six laughed and talked amiably while enjoying glasses of wine and an array of appetizers. While I glanced over the menu, several more people were seated and before long the place was packed.

When our food arrived, I took a moment to appreciate how lovely the food was displayed on my plate before savoring the luscious cuisine. My husband’s meal looked especially appetizing, grilled halibut with mango chutney, asparagus spears, fluffy rice, and balsamic swirls with basil leaves on the side.

Although I enjoyed chatting with my husband and truly reveled in our meal out together, I found my gaze often wandered to the people clusters around me. A mother chuckled with her teenage son. A group of women placed gifts, wrapped in colorful wrapping paper, near the center of their table. A family of three passed around a platter of bruschetta crostini. A young couple held hands while they fed each other samples from their plate. A boisterous foursome at the other end of the restaurant joked and kept clinking their glasses. My guess is they were celebrating something. Everyone seemed happy.

I don’t know if it was the food, the kind wait staff, the lively atmosphere, the fact that I hadn’t been out for dinner in quite some time, or maybe, just the humble truth that I do well on my own, but community, that sense of belonging, is so much better.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Helen Keller

How did you find solace this week?

Sharon

© 2022. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved