The older I get, the more I appreciate the beauty of life.

Lately, I'm making even more of a conscious effort to soak up the beauty of my world. I'm filled with an intense appreciation for what I call the smorgasbord of life.

A food smorgasbord offers so many tempting offerings. It's impossible to eat everything and we sometimes come away regretting that we ate too much.

That's not the case with the smorgasbord of life. While we can't sample everything, the more we do, the more we appreciate what is before us.

Today was just what some may regard as an ordinary day. But from start to finish, I reveled in the world around me, taking in every little detail.

When I went outside for the morning paper, I felt the way the breeze blessed me and made me feel happy to be alive. In the soft early morning light, even the little white flowers that are actually weeds look pretty as they do a little shimmy with the breeze.

When I walk outside each morning, I pause every day to appreciate the world around me. I put all my senses on alert. I want to inhale every smell, hear every sound and see everything that stirs.

The soft cooing of mourning doves, the loud cackle of crows and the sweet melody of mocking birds blend together in nature's chorus.

Do they know they always put a smile on my face? Do they know how much I appreciate their morning concert?

There's something soothing about the still of early morning before the rest of the world wakes up. Before too many cars are on the roads, I decide to ride my bike.

Usually, I ride for exercise, putting as much effort as I can into pedaling. I like to think of it as boosting my circulation system and making my heart stronger.

Today, I forget about all that and just do a relaxed ride for pleasure. I take time to watch a rabbit run in the field and to listen to the distinctive call of an osprey.

When I get to the small, waterside park at the edge of beautiful Charlotte Harbor, I decide to park my bike and sit on a bench, enjoying the scenery.

The harbor is only a mile from our house. We ride by often and we remark about the spectacular view every time we see it. We notice and appreciate the beauty of the harbor, but we seldom stop to spend any time there.

Towns and counties create these peaceful parks everywhere. Almost every town has at least one public park with benches to welcome you to sit a while.

Here's a question I've wondered about: Why don't more people use these peaceful pockets of peace and beauty?

The particular park I visited today is especially beautiful. Located on a bay, it's a picture out of paradise with large live oak trees for shade and picnic tables and park benches for comfort.

Yet, every time I come by, the park is relatively empty, except for some homeless people who like to gather in the picnic area.

This morning, I'm the only one here, except for a young couple smart enough to enjoy their take out coffee in front of the water.

As I sit listening to the gentle waves lap against the shoreline, I drink in the beauty around me. Sun glistens off the water like a thousand points of light while seagulls add to my delight.

I can't help but think once again about the unsurpassed beauty of nature. Every single area has its own version of nature's bounty.

Sometimes it's majestic mountains. Sometimes it's green pastures or rolling hills.

How many times do you actually stop to enjoy what I call "a nature moment?" You don't have to spend a long time there to reap results.

What I find is a short time spent in a tranquil setting restores something in us, something we didn't even miss until we find it again in nature.

My husband and I make it a point when we are traveling to pack a lunch instead of stopping at fast food restaurants. Then we look for peaceful parks or pretty settings to enjoy our lunch. It always adds to the pleasure of the trip.

Just like great food should be savored, every day we are given should be relished. In every small act of my so-called "ordinary day," I glory in the greatness of small gifts.

Dinner and conversation with my husband is one of those gifts. So is sitting together as the day comes to an end.

The smorgasbord of life is simply delicious.

Why not enjoy every single morsel?