April is always a special month for me.
One reason is because it's the month of my birth and I always make my birthday celebration last all month.
April is also special because it's one of rebirth. In Pennsylvania, we start to see trees budding and the start of spring flowers pushing from the earth.
I always loved walking about my yard and neighborhood, alert to the rebirth all around me. It's always a celebration when our world turns green.
Here in Florida, we don't have that delicious delineation of seasons. When my daughter came to visit last week and got to sample our glorious weather, she proclaimed, "It's summer! Do you ever get a spring?"
Not really, at least not the same way as "up north."
But April has its own rewards here in the sunshine state. The month brings one perfectly beautiful day after another. It's seldom too cold or too hot. The perfect weather just calls for being outdoors.
This month I'm celebrating the beauty of life more intensely that I normally do. I am always one who appreciates every small pleasure. But this month, I'm relishing those simple pleasures with much more intensity.
A few years ago I interviewed a teenage boy caught up by the addiction of drugs. He tried to explain to me why he continued to take LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs.
"It makes everything in life more beautiful," he told me. "Colors are more intense. Music is more beautiful."
I recalled his conversation this week because I'm feeling that intensity of beauty. But I'm high on life, not drugs.
While I'm always an up person, my own personal happiness quotient increases in April. I secretly regard it as "my month."
When Lent started, our parish priest encouraged us to think about the Easter season differently. Instead of denying ourselves something we like by "giving it up for Lent," he encouraged us to do something positive.
"This Lent I would like each of you to tune in to the joy of life," he said. "Instead of depriving yourself, taste every simple pleasure and give thanks for it. Tune into the beauty of life," he encouraged.
His words were music to my ears. I was planning to give up chocolate as my Lenten sacrifice. But after listening to Father Jerry, I went home and had a candy bar, relishing every little lick.
That's the way I am this month – I'm relishing every little bit of every day.
Sometimes, I sit outdoors to listen to the day long concert all around me. There are so many stars in this daily concert.
The strongest soloist, a little wren sitting on the end of a branch, starts a new song with a confident voice. I'm often amused to notice that the strongest songs come from the smallest birds.
The little wren's feathered friends join in her song, building a more complex melody. While a big, black crow adds its laconic caw-ha! to the concert, one lone sparrow chirps in timidly.
The Mourning doves are always in the chorus. I have to laugh when three ducks add to the serenade, sounding as if they were auditioning for an Aflac commercial.
I sit here with my eyes closed, appreciating the chorus with all its varied voices, applauding nature's fine concert.
As I listen, the sun bathes me in warmth while a gentle breeze kisses my face. Basking in having all my senses tickled by the splendor of everyday pleasures, I think once again how good it feels to be alive.
I believe to live fully is to be aware of nature's kaleidoscope of daily delights.
Lately, I've been making even more effort not to miss a single simple pleasure.
When I go on a kayak trip with our club, I sometimes fall behind the group as I slow my pace to see the red blooms among the water lilies or a turtle sitting on a log.
I laugh at the yellow and green turtle with the red belly because it looks like a child colored it. But it is no child that is the Grand Master of this majestic world.
My husband and I drive over the Peace River several times a week and every time we see the water shimmering below us, we comment on the beauty of the harbor. No matter how many times we pass the harbor, we're moved by the beauty all around us.
We have busy schedules, always rushing off to dance class, drumming lessons or dinner with friends. But we have resolved to take more time to soak in the splendor of our area.
We like to walk at night as the sun sets so we can observe the pallet of color that lights the sky. "Ohhhh, look at that!" we often remark, sounding like two kids seeing fireworks for the first time.
Sometimes we drive to the beach to watch the sunset. When we went there after dinner this week, the parking lot was filled. "Must be something big going on," my husband said.
The "something big" that drew a few hundred people was the sunset. Yes, it happens every day but every sunset is a new delight.
Many people must feel the same way because when the sun took a final bow and dipped into the water, everyone clapped in appreciation.
This is my April mantra: Celebrate life. Don't just live it. Celebrate life every day, every way.