Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Summer Gratitude List

Now that this summer draws to a close, it seems a good time to reflect. Instead of a simple list of accomplishments, let me think about what makes me grateful:

--So far, the BP oil spill has not wrecked the reefs here. Now, they're still under threat, no doubt, with rising sea temperatures and the acidification of the ocean. But at least they haven't been wiped out all at once. There's not much hope for resurrection if that happens.

--I wrote 20 poems since May 24, and that doesn't count the false starts, the ideas that haven't been developed yet, the lines that may yet develop into something.

--I wrote a short story, the first time I've written a short story since 2003. Better yet, I figured out how to create a volume of linked short stories.

--I did these things because I was so inspired by Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad. What a good book. I feel happy to live in a world that gives me such good books. Runner up for best book of summer: Justin Cronin's The Passage.

--I've had some poems published, and managed to maintain my submission schedule.

--I had a great visit with my family in June, culminating in a boat trip: me, spouse, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew--hurrah, we can be happy on a sailboat for a week.

--I've managed to cut down on the amount of sugar that I put in my morning coffee. I've cut my sugar use in half. It's taken me months to get used to the taste, but just the other morning, it occurred to me that my coffee finally tastes good again. Perhaps it's time to cut back further?

--A few weeks ago, a woman in spin class told me that I was really getting stronger. I feel like I've taken a quantum leap in terms of my biking abilities. I've also been able to do some runs, which during our summer of record breaking heat is no small thing. It's been several years since I did a 3 mile run in summer. This year, most weeks, I've done that at least once (I go to spin class 4 times a week, and I try to run two days a week).

--I'm always grateful for the basics: food, a house, friends near and far, cars that continue to run, good health for me and my loved ones. Even my grandmother, who had a fall and broke her ankle earlier in the summer, has recovered nicely.

--I'm grateful for the good life I enjoy beyond the basics: gourmet food, a job that I like, wine, being able to afford some meals out, musical instruments.

--I've made more bread this summer than I have in a long time. I'm grateful for my sourdough starter and the discipline it imposes on my kitchen.

--Our new AC unit is the gift that keeps giving, first in the tax credit, and this summer in the lowest electrical bills ever for a summer in this house (down here, summer is our high electric bill time; mercifully, no winter furnace costs).

--I realize that I'm especially lucky this summer, because any problem I have is a problem that can be solved if I had just a bit of extra money. I try to adopt the attitude of a friend of Anne Lamott's, which she relates in Travelling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith: " . . . if you have a problem you can solve by throwing money at it, you don't have a very interesting problem" (page 259).

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