In the Dew of Little Things

For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”
― Kahlil Gibran, from The Prophet

It’s a few moments past sunrise, and I am sitting on the back deck in my pajamas and socks, snuggled into the comforting warmth of one of my grandma’s tattered quilts. I have no immediate obligations, nothing on my agenda but to breathe in the tenderness of the morning and to allow the dawn’s first blush to calm my already chattering mind. The air is crisp, almost cold, and heavy with the scent of lilac. All around me the vibrant white of the dogwoods magnifies the lush greenness of the leafy oaks, and just as the rising sun sets fire to the treetops, thousands (millions?) of tiny birds shatter the silence with jubilant song.

And taking their cue from the birds, my two drowsy dogs suddenly rouse themselves into a frenzied wrestling match at my feet before one of them spots a squirrel scampering across the yard, and then they are both bounding down the stairs in their never-ending quest to impress and protect me. And as I lean over the railing to watch their antics (silently willing the squirrel to skitter up a nearby tree in the nick of time), my eyes stray to my recently planted vegetable garden, and I can’t help smiling. Tomatoes and peppers, carrots and onions and lettuce, cucumbers and zucchini and squash–and each plant, I swear, taller and fuller and greener than it was just yesterday. I can’t remember the last time I planted a garden, so how could I have known that so many small plants straining toward the sunlight could feed my soul long before their bounty could satisfy my palate?

Peace. Serenity. Joy.

I used to think that summer–with its high temperatures and even higher humidity–was my favorite season of the year, but now I’m starting to think that perhaps summer received preferential ranking only because I had more time to notice and enjoy its offerings. This is the first spring since I was a pre-schooler (many, many, many years ago) that I haven’t been jumping from bed long before the sunrise in a frantic push to ready myself for an even more frantic day. I’ve never been home day after luxurious day during the spring, never able to marvel at this season’s gentle, early-morning beauty or revel in its peaceful countenance.

I am lucky, and I know it. And I wish others could experience what I’m experiencing–waking up to a carefree day radiant with possibilities and knowing that if it rains today, it’s no big deal because tomorrow (and the day after that and the day after that) will be just as carefree. The sun will shine eventually, and I will be able to play–and sometimes playing after one of those spring rains is even more luscious and delicious and wonderful because the world is somehow brighter and softer at the same time.

This spring I have wandered down backwoods trails, scouring the ground for tiny wildflowers that in previous years I never noticed. This spring I have drifted down to the lake over the hill, sitting in solitude on the bluffs while the wind has whipped through my hair and the whitecapping waves have danced before me. This spring I have followed my husband’s lead down winding goat paths, inching across narrow cliff faces in search of rain-fed waterfalls while slip-sliding in mud and praying that the shaky legs that carried me two miles down into those canyons will also be able to carry me up and out.

And, oh, this spring my efforts have been rewarded–not just through the beauty I have sought and found but also in the inner calm I have discovered along the way. For as long as I can remember, my husband, my sons, my friends and every medical professional I have ever visited have all told me the same thing: “You worry too much. You’re too tense. You need to relax.” I have listened to their admonitions and advice and nodded in agreement, but even though I have recognized the truth in their words, I have lacked the ability (or the desire?) to relinquish control and let myself live in the moment. Until now. I may still have one hand grasping at the reins, but I am trying to loosen my grip, and in this season of rebirth, rejuvenation and renewal, I am learning that old dogs can indeed learn new tricks. I am refreshed, and I am alive.

But enough. I have properly greeted this gift of a day, and now it is time to go back inside, warm my morning bowl of oatmeal, pour my first glass of iced tea and decide which book I want to bring back outside with me when the afternoon sun starts whispering my name.

What a life.

NOTE: To see a larger version of any picture, simply click on it–and then click on it again for an even bigger view. And please remember that all photos are copyrighted and can’t be used without my permission (I’m bossy like that).

dogwood2My dogwood blooms in the morning rain …

lilacs3My lilacs, kissed by raindrops …

waterfall12Triple Falls waterfall, after a heavy spring rain, near Ponca, Arkansas …

wildflowerBlue Phlox (or wild Sweet William), growing along the waterfall’s path …

wildflower3I’m not sure what these are,
but I spotted them on a hiking trail and they were beautiful.

waterfalls7A small, roadside waterfall near Ponca, Arkansas …

About icedteawithlemon

I have recently retired from a 30-year career in education in one of the best school districts in the world. I hope to spend my second life reading, writing, photographing, traveling, biking, cheering on my favorite baseball team (the St. Louis Cardinals), and soaking up glorious sunshine. In my spare time I enjoy playing with my pet tarantulas, trying out new flavors of chewing gum, and knitting socks for prison inmates. I'm almost positive that in a past life I was one of the Seven Dwarfs (most likely "Grumpy"), and in my next life I'm going to be either a taste tester for Hershey's or a model for Victoria's Secret's new line, "Bloomers for Boomers." I want to travel country back roads, singing Vanilla Ice songs at every karaoke bar and rating bathroom cleanliness at every truckstop. And someday I plan to own a private beach where skinny girls aren't allowed. I want to be a writer when I grow up. "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake."--Henry David Thoreau
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17 Responses to In the Dew of Little Things

  1. JIM KIRKLAND says:

    Retirement,, wonderful isn’t it, and your writings are equally great. Thank you.
    Date: Wed, 1 May 2013 11:20:36 +0000

    • Thank you, Jim, and yes, retirement is even better than I had imagined! I hope all of my friends and loved ones will someday have the opportunity to experience the same peace and joy. Happy fishing!

  2. Mary Fritz says:

    Again and again, thank you for your reflections! Can’t wait to someday retire!

  3. RayEtta says:

    Beautiful pictures every one. You are so right…….we hear that throughout grownup lives, “to stop and smell the roses,” but we don’t. I love being retired and taking in the little things all along the way. Keep having fun.We really let busy lives rob us of so much.

    • Thank you, RayEtta. In the past year I have looked back with regret over so many missed opportunities–so many things I wish I would have done differently if I had only known how great the rewards would be. And since I can’t go back and change a single thing, at least I can smell those roses now while the blooms are still fresh …

  4. SUE says:

    All your life you have been giving – to your family, to your friends, your teachers, your students and anyone else who needed someone. You have earned the right to give to yourself – every day – I am so glad you are learning to enjoy each one. Spring IS especially beautiful and so are your words & pictures!!
    PS – I LOVE Mondays!!

  5. Lyn says:

    You have caught how I feel. I am loving retirement. Getting up at dawn and sitting on my deck watching and listening to everything wake up is something I look forward to every night as I go to bed.

    • Thank you, “Lyn.” Last night I slept with the bedroom windows open and woke this morning to the birds greeting the sunrise–what a peaceful, glorious way to start the day. I’m glad you’re enjoying your retirement just as much as I’m enjoying mine!

  6. liliofthefield27 says:

    The more things change…

    Karen, this hypnotic post of yours reads like a field of towering sunflowers and a sea of sweet smelling grass and soil after a resplendent rain. Seriously. I read this with a delicious cup of Earl Grey tea…with lemon.

    And…your post instantly recalled in my mind a delightful book I purchased in England last year, entitled “The English Year”. This book is a collection of personal diary entries made by various people between the years 1755 and 1890. There is an entry made for each calendar day of the year. Your “diary entry” would be very much at home amidst the others.

    If I may, I’d like to “read” you an entry made into Miss Dorothy Woodsworth’s personal diary, dated May 1, 1786. Miss Woodsworth resided in Hampshire, England.

    “A sweet morning that beckons the soul to arise from delicious slumber and laughing somersault dreams. The small birds are singing, lambs bleating, cuckow calling, hens cackling, plum and pear trees are in blossom – apple trees greenish. Indeed, a progress in all foliage around our cottage may be discerned every morning, and again every golden evening. Tea and breakfast with dear husband, then to join the women talking together at old Elizabeth’s door – gossip and worry and fuss over children, then I am off on a solitary walk through deep wood to reflect on deeper thoughts before I am once again swirling in waters of familial content and discontent – which passes as quickly as clouds.”

    Like I said, Girl, you’d be right at home with Miss Woodsworth!

    • Thank you, Lillian, for your most kind and quite poetic words–no one has ever referred to my writing as a “field of towering sunflowers and a sea of sweet smelling grass and soil after a resplendent rain,” and I love the imagery! And thank you so much for sharing the diary entry. The English Year sounds like a book I would enjoy reading, and I wish I had thought of the phrase “delicious slumber and laughing somersault dreams.” How lyrical and beautiful!

  7. Arindam says:

    There are very few people who considers them self lucky. And I believe they are the happiest people among all. Because they realize the value of sun rise falling on their feet or cool breeze touching their body or blessings touching their soul. Great post with some really beautiful pictures.

  8. bronxboy55 says:

    You know it isn’t just your words — even the tone of this post evokes spring. I could see and feel what you were saying (“… inching across narrow cliff faces in search of rain-fed waterfalls while slip-sliding in mud…”). And those photographs — especially the waterfall — beautiful. Thank you, Karen.

    • Thank YOU, Charles! I have so much loved being able to enjoy this spring, especially the early morning hours, and I’m glad I could make you feel the beauty of my surroundings. And I hope to soon be on the search for more rain-fed waterfalls–they do make beautiful photographs!

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