[Quiet Thoughts] The Simple Surprises of Every Day

Photo: The Husband custom designed a charm for my Pandora bracelet for Valentine’s Day. It is engraved with the Maryland Flag (the prettiest one in the Union, obviously), so home is with me and on me wherever I go. You can take the girl out of Maryland, and even give her some land somewhere else… but Maryland will always hold the biggest chunk of her heart.


Confession: I was a total brat about Valentine’s Day last year. There is evidence of the tantrum somewhere. I let my brattyness fester all the way until Mother’s Day. Not a good look.

And the husband, being a good and smart man, learned from the experience and got me a little something something for Valentine’s Day this year. (because, clearly, a house in the ‘burbs just wasn’t enough. Am I right? Am I right???) I’m rewarding him with a clean house, happy children, a most excellent meal (if I can get out of my driveway… thanks, snow!) and a little time to sleep in tomorrow morning. These (among other things 😉 ) are what a wife can give a husband on Valentine’s Day.

My thoughts today aren’t really centered around the holiday. Instead, I’m thinking about the simple surprises of every day.

You see, for the past week, I’ve had the great joy of waking up just after dawn to see footprints in the snow on my lawn. Some of the footprints are tiny, while some of them are quite large. Some of them seem to indicate a chase, while others, an easy trek. A good few seem to leave from the barn and then return to it from a different direction. Some of them come from beyond the stone fence and my neighbor’s (wooded) property, and off toward the train tracks or the houses beyond. The snow has remained pristine for the most part: No “packages” left on the pretty white snow, no yellow markings, and no blood, thank God. Just the glimpses of activities under the light of the moon. Evidence that while we lay down our weary heads, great tales are being told and lives are being lived.

I didn’t realize how much those little whispers in the snow mean to me until this morning, when I found myself disappointed that nothing happened last night. Not only did our most recent foot of snow cover up the tracks that were already there, but nobody came out to play last night. With the exception of what I think is a fox who lives under our barn. I see his tracks going out of the barn and over the stone fence and then return. I wish I could post a picture of what I’m looking at, but, as we all know, the camera on my phone freaking sucks.

The coolest part about the footprints in the snow is that I recognize that they ignite a lot of feelings in me at once: Excitement–“Look, something happened last night!” Fear– “what kind of prints are those? They are really big! Are they human?” (No. My husband says they aren’t.) So what are they? A bear?? (No. My husband says they aren’t.) A coyote??? (That is possible. My husband says that is possible.) Wonder–“How many animals live out there, any way?” Whimsy–“Wouldn’t it be cool if they are all just dancing in the moonlight while we’re all sleeping?”

It takes just one glance out of the window. A simple gift given by nature, and a thought exercise for me. There is joy in the simple surprises of every day if you simply take a moment to notice. It has, at least for the briefest moment, made this long New England winter interesting and survivable.

Such simple observations can be applied to other things. The new and interesting ways that the boys are using facial expressions (and mirroring my own… which is… funny?). The new and interesting ways that The Husband tinkers with the house and falls in love with it differently than I do. The changes of the house goes through as the sun rises on one side of it, hangs above it at noon, and sinks under the horizon on the other side.

What are the simple surprises of your every day? When was the last time you remarked on or let your mind linger on a little surprise in the peripheral of your day-to-day? What does it do for you, between the diaper changes and the laundry, the tantrums and the scrubbing, the errands and the obligations, to pause for a heartbeat and wonder at something simple and beautiful? On this Valentine’s Day, as we hurry to find a trinket for the partners in our lives, as you deliver your token of amour, what could the sharing of a simple joy or observation do to strengthen the bond? There is beauty in sharing gifts of the mind and soul with the people who we love (platonic or amorous)… even more so than the stuff we tell ourselves that we’re supposed to exchange. (See? I learned something since last year. 🙂 )

I recognize that not all of your wonderful readers are attached to another person. I’m sorry that you have to suffer through this day while everyone else is running around frantically trying to find something for their “special someone.” There are many things that I could write to you, but I fear that they would be quite cliche. So consider this instead: There is joy in today, beyond the reds and pinks, and it is staring at you right now. It might be in the snow covered branch just outside of your window shaking in the breeze. Or maybe the glittering snow blown off of a rooftop briefly bedazzling your daily walk. It might be that first glorious sip of your cocoa or coffee or tea. It might be the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve done great work today, or that you’re on your way to something spectacular tomorrow. Maybe there is joy in knowing that The Fates, known for their cruelty, are also known for their surprises. You just never know what or who will cross your path tomorrow.

And for those of you who are attached… especially those who have been with the same person for a good long while (The Husband and I hit the 12-year mark on the 1st), I hope you’ll take a moment on this V-day to just stare and notice. The boy that I met 12 years ago is a man deserving of my love, awe and admiration today. He still, in brief and fantastic moments, looks like the boy I met so long ago. Yet the man I watched go off to work today is just so much more special and so much stronger than I could ever imagine. These are the gifts of time, should you take a moment to recognize them.

On this cold and snowy Friday, I wish you warmth first and foremost. And if you are in the southern states, I wish you safety and power and support if you need it. For those readers who are unattached, I wish you a moment of connection… an unexpected smile, a drink with a friend, a snuggle from a pet, a text or an email. For you mothers out there, I wish you snuggles from your babies and sincere “I love yous” from little precious mouths. I wish you a warm hand on your back, a strong hug, and a shared moment of quiet intimacy with your partner in life. And for those married or unmarried couples, the ones who are able to get out this evening (or whole weekend! grrr!!) without paying some babysitter or worrying about what time you need to be home… well, I jealous. 😛 and I wish you a good time. Jerks. haha.

My in-laws aren’t coming this weekend. So I’ll see you Monday with a happy post of happiness. Until then, stay warm.



One Comment Add yours

  1. I love this post!! It’s always so amazing when you get a little nudge to take joy in the simple things.

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