One of the great pleasures in my life is sitting here at my desk in Colorado and looking out onto our front yard. Currently it's snow covered. There are some evergreen trees and bushes, green against the white snow and light blue sky this morning, but the aspen and tall cottonwood branches are bare and brown. Our juniper shrubs protect a myriad of critters, from raccoons to cottontails and the occasional toad. Even though I don't spend much time outdoors, it's a feast for my eyes and my spirit to look out onto the scenery.
Another simple pleasure that I enjoy almost daily is a pot of decaf coffee brewed in my Krups coffeemaker. Mom prefers her little Mr. Coffee. She brews caffeinated hazelnut flavored coffee to which she adds Coffeemate and Splenda. One of these days I'll find another Chemex coffee pot, which got lost along the way with a former relationship some years ago. I gave up caffeinated coffee in the spring to prepare for the 12-day marathon of General Convention, and I find that I do sleep better drinking only decaf.
Petting Tink and listening to her purr are high on the list of simple pleasures, although she doesn't do a good job of keeping her claws pulled in. Yesterday night yielded two forearms of scratches along with some on the front of my thighs after she jumped on and off my lap. What is it about our companion animals that causes us to give them such forebearance, which we probably wouldn't give to our human companions? That is certainly something for us to ponder. What is it that our human companions "do" to us that makes us so hard-hearted towards them?
For Herb, the greatest simple pleasure is the opportunity to take a long steam shower in our newly remodeled master bathroom that was finally completed after almost a year of disruption. As Herb's anemia has become more pronounced, a by-product of his advancing kidney disease, his desire for warmth has increased. A steam shower is just about the ultimate creature comfort for someone who's cold all the time. Our biggest arguments these days arise out of control of the thermostat. Herb prefers a temperature somewhere over 80F, and I'm firmly in the 70-72F range. So, you'll find me in tank tops while Herb is in sweats.
I really enjoy just sitting a lot these days in all the different ways that one can just sit, by one's self or with others. Sitting and thinking is an activity that gets short shrift in the midst of our busy, purpose-filled lives. That's another thing to ponder - why we think it's important to be so purposeful all the time. Yet sitting and thinking is perhaps the single activity that most renews us for the next task, the next encounter with loved ones, or the next adventure. Sitting and observing our setting, whether it's our living room or a sidewalk cafe in Paris, can afford rich inputs for reflection.
People watching in particular is a delightful occupation for leisurely afternoons. I like people watching best on a sunny day when the air is crisp and the clouds are moving swiftly across the sky. There are benches staggered around the lake down the road, where I sometimes spend an afternoon, watching dog owners and their canines stroll by. The dogs swim in the lake when it's warm enough, and their people throw sticks and balls into the lake for the dogs to fetch. I have to be quick to step aside as the wet dogs come charging out of the lake to shake themselves off, attracted to unfamiliar humans in their overly friendly way.
There are lessons to be learned from our companion animals. They really know simplicity and its blessings. Something good to eat, someplace warm to sleep, someone loving to snuggle up with, and a good run in the sun and a swim in the lake, what more can a simple soul want? Their only purpose in life is to just be, and if you're lucky enough to be a dog or a cat's "people," then they're happy to just be with you.