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Ordinary pleasures are the zest of life

Published August 16. 2014 09:00AM

Here I am sitting outside on our lanai during nature's light show. Most people call it lightning.

Our lanai is covered so I can sit outdoors during most storms. Florida is the lightning capital of the world, and tonight it is claiming that distinction with a vengeance.

There is so much lightning that it lights up the night sky like one of those continuous light shows at a big mall. Of course that means constant thunder, too.

I just sit here enjoying the spectacle, taking comfort in being dry while I enjoy nature's kaleidoscope of sight and sound. I feel the same awe as I do during our Fourth of July fireworks.

When I tear myself away and go indoors, my husband says I was out there so long he was starting to worry about me. "It's not like you to want to be outdoors when there's lightning," he says.

Well, it's true that I don't want to be on the water when there's lightning. When we're kayaking and the sky darkens, I'm in a bit of a panic trying to get to shore before the lightning starts.

But when I'm safely at home, I like watching it.

Anything that has to do with nature is pleasurable for me.

Last night I huddled with David's family under a picnic shed at the beach while we were waiting for the rain to stop.

I told them if you don't like the weather at a beach, wait a minute because it will change. When the skies were black and the rain was pounding, I don't think they believed this cock-eyed optimist.

Sure enough, right before our patience was rewarded with a glorious sunset, a big rainbow filled the sky and we had a great time on the beach.

While everyone was enjoying the warm waters of the Gulf, I sat at the water's edge, listening to the mesmerizing sound of waves gently lapping at the shore. For me, listening to that sound is one the most pleasurable moments of life.

I believe it's the little pleasures that add up to a satisfying life.

I'm in the process of rereading Elizabeth Berg's book, "Year of Pleasures." I first read the novel when it came out in 2005 and don't usually reread older fiction.

But what I like most about the book, besides Berg's lyrical writing, is its theme: finding solace in ordinary things things like the companionship of a dog and the comfort of old friends.

Berg writes of a woman determined to find pleasure in her simple daily routine after her husband died.

I sure can relate to finding pleasure in daily routine. When I get up in the morning, I don't just HAVE a cup of coffee. I savor that first cup. Even the aroma of coffee brewing gets my day started with an acknowledgment of simple pleasures.

I never take for granted the simple pleasure of morning conversation with my husband. One of the things I enjoy most about him is that he, too, savors simple pleasures. He often comments about the beauty of a moody evening sky or about a roseate spoonbill in flight.

When I think of the simple pleasures that fill me with joy, birds are at the top of my list.

I did a recent story on a wildlife sanctuary and was absolutely enthralled when they allowed me close-up access to white pelicans and several species of exotic birds.

Just sitting on my back lanai and watching the action at the birdbath and bird feeder is such pleasure for me. I suspect it is for a lot of people.

That's why backyards have so many bird feeders. Those birdfeeders probably bring more reward to people than to the birds.

Sometimes it's a nice, juicy peach that brings me pleasure. Or a freshly picked tomato still warm from the garden.

Another ordinary pleasure for me is going into my backyard herb garden to clip fresh herbs.

My friend Jan gave me some exotic varieties of oregano and basil that continue to give me pleasure every time I use them.

If it's a rainy day and I can't do outdoor activities, I find my pleasure in the kitchen in the simple act of cooking. I love giving an old recipe a new twist, or just concocting my idea of comfort food. Even rain brings its own pleasure. I like the soothing sound of rain on the roof and the fresh way the ground smells after a summer rain.

When I was a kid, my simple pleasure was running in puddles after the rain stopped. Now that I'm an older kid, my simple pleasure is taking a walk and noticing how the rain refreshes all the flowers and lush vegetation.

Did you ever notice how rain smells different in the summer?

The more I tune in to the glories of nature, the more pleasure I find in each day. And the older I grow, the more I look for these ordinary pleasures.

Every now and then my husband and I splurge on play tickets or a weekend trip. While these are definite pleasures, they are not everyday events.

Fortunately, it's the ordinary pleasures of everyday life that offer the most rewards.

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