I know to some of my readers I can seem shallow and snarky — which I am — but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Every once in a while I have a really, really deep thought, a thought so deep I get the intellectual equivalent of the bends, rendering me addled and inarticulate. (That this always happens in conjunction with a deadline explains a lot.)
So, to prove I’m not all sniggers and sneers, I’m dedicating this last column of 2008 to gratitude. That’s right: no jokes, no poking fun, just a battered shopping cart of blessings (in other words, ideas that may or may not have made it into columns over the past year).
I give thanks, in no particular order, for …
• Two weeks in Tuscany last May. (I figure the longer I remain grateful for this trip, the likelier the travel gods will smile upon me again and send me back.)
• November 4. I’m glad I chose not to vote absentee, and I’m glad I had to stand in line for a bit. I got to actually feel like a part of the process, rather than apart from it.
• November 5. I woke at dawn, and the sky was ablaze — all pinks and reds. I rode my bike to the gym, and everything was so calm and quiet. I know it may have been the fog and the warmth and the light of that early hour, but the world actually looked different. They (the sneerers) say the honeymoon won’t last, but I’m going to enjoy it for as long as it does. It’s not often we, as a nation, get to collectively hope for anything.
• Being able to ride my bike around town, though I’m pretty sure the brake is rubbing on the front tire, which is why I always get smoked by my husband, John. And I’m grateful for the camaraderie of the Portland biking community, especially our best bike-friend, Jim.
• The fact my injured sciatic nerve (OK, pulled butt muscle) is finally starting to mend after three months. And I’m glad I learned an important lesson: Just because the Olympics are on doesn’t mean you have to prove to your six- and eight-year-old niece and nephew that you did gymnastics 30 years ago in high school (just as well as those little chippies on TV) by demonstrating the proper way to do a handstand, a cartwheel, and then a round-off. Not once. Not twice. But until you hurt yourself (after your second glass of wine).
• The egret/heron tree by the pond at the entrance to Payson Park off Baxter Boulevard. In late summer and fall, the branches of this tree are filled with these large wading birds. This year, it was also home to a pair of black-crowned night herons, one of which I flushed as I was skulking around the periphery of the pond with my binocs. “Cronk,” the female said to me as she lethargically glided from one branch to another.
• John, who never blinks when I beg him to stop the car so I can look at these birds for the millionth time, even though that means we have to park beside the stinky Port-a-Potty, the smell of which seeps up through the floorboard.
• “Yuck on a Stick.” That’s John’s term for the Brussels sprouts he cooked for me throughout this year’s sprout season, despite his revulsion toward the wee cabbages. I’m also thankful he didn’t ditch me when I marched around with a big stalk of them like a court jester at the farmers’ market.
• While we’re on the subject, I give thanks for the Saturday Deering Oaks farmers’ market. I know it’s mostly the same as the Monument Square one on Wednesdays, but Saturday in the Oaks feels like mine, especially when it gets down to the hardcore root-vegetable crowd at the close of the season. (We know we’ll run into Jay from Local 188 until the bitter end.)
• And I am grateful I participated in this year’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in October. I am, by nature, not a joiner. I don’t like sing-alongs, group hand-clapping or mass revolt. But as I crested Munjoy Hill on that brisk Sunday morning, a couple hundred walkers in front of me and a couple thousand behind (this walk was supposed to be competitive, right?), I understood the power of numbers and how meaningful banding together for a common cause can be.
Oh, I could go on. But all this gratitude has left me feeling all floaty and ropy. So get lost. It’s time for my long winter’s nap.
Elizabeth Peavey will see you when she comes back up for air in the bright New Year.