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Warmest regards: Small pleasures grow in importance

By Pattie Mihalik

Although it’s been five months since I’ve been able to spend time with my family, we are getting together once a week thanks to Zoom.

While it may seem silly to shower and do my hair before our weekly video sessions, I just want to approximate real life.

There are about 10 of us family members from multiple states who look forward to Zoom as our only way to actually see each other.

After we each give a short “what’s new” synopsis, Carrie will often ask a question for each of us to answer.

This week her question was, “What positive change have you enjoyed during the time you spent sheltering in place?”

I was glad she put a positive spin on her question, forcing us to look beyond the misery of lost employment, no paychecks and none of the socializing we all enjoy.

My son-in-law Greg said what he is most enjoying is something new in his life: silence.

“I don’t hear the usual heavy traffic on the street and don’t even hear airplanes overhead. It’s nice to just walk the dog and enjoy all the peace,” he said.

My daughter Andrea said she is enjoying time for herself to do what she wants instead of what she has to do. Now she has more time to exercise and just relax sitting on the porch, she said.

(Anyone who knows Andrea knows she doesn’t sit still for long. She’s a perpetual motion machine.)

She’s enjoying trying new recipes as she whips up special meals each day.

Granddaughter Sophie, who is spending her freshman year of college having online classes, said she is enjoying having more time to do yoga with her mom and to work out.

My daughter Maria said she most enjoys time to leisurely read several newspapers thoroughly instead of just reading the headlines like she had to do when she was rushing to work.

Carrie, who owns the unique toy store pucciManuli is a confirmed workaholic who normally works seven days a week.

Since stores had to shut down, she says she’s enjoying a slower pace, realizing what’s important in life and what’s not.

Time to reflect has made her realize the importance of spending more time with what’s truly important to her - her family.

Ironically, the travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus are making it harder than ever to spent time with family.

I think that’s why she came up with the idea of having us all get together each week via Zoom.

My answer to the question of what positive change I am most enjoying during sheltering in place probably doesn’t sound like much of a change for me.

What I am most enjoying are my daily nature encounters. While it’s true that’s something I’ve always enjoyed, I am now doing it with a new intensity.

There is no need to tell myself I can only walk along the waterway for a half-hour because I have an appointment to rush off to. I am truly enjoying nature at my leisure.

Normally, back in everyday life before the coronavirus invasion, my mornings were highly structured just about down to the minute.

I started each day with a brisk half-hour gratitude walk that rejuvenated all of my senses.

When we began our forced social isolation, I continued doing those half-hour walks. As a creature of habit, it didn’t dawn on me that I could lengthen my walk because I didn’t have to rush off to an appointment.

When I started my walk today, I was all set for the half-hour. But then I heard the distinctive sound of a nearby sandhill crane. Like many people here in Florida, I love seeing those birds.

Today was a special treat I didn’t anticipate. Instead of seeing one or two cranes that I normally see, there were six of those magnificent creatures having breakfast on the golf course across from my house.

I abandoned any thought of leaving and stayed there watching them until two golf carts came into view. I figured the golfers would make the cranes fly away.

Instead, as one golfer lined up his shot, all six of the cranes surrounded him in a wide circle while the biggest crane seemed to be a sports announcer calling out the golfer’s shots.

I never saw them do anything like that. I tried to capture their funny antics on video but I wasn’t fast enough.

Later that day it was the unusual antics of an osprey that captured my attention.

Normally I only see osprey in flight or guarding their nests high above ground.

I was happy to see one come to my backyard pond where it suddenly started doing its own version of jumping jacks. With flapping wings and its high-pitched call the osprey was wildly hopping up and down.

Someone said it was a mating dance. If so the bird must have been disappointed because the only thing it attracted was a small wren that for some crazy reason jumped on the osprey’s head.

My husband commented that the birds are singing much louder and sweeter than usual.

I think it’s only because we are now listening more and noticing more.

In this pandemic we are much more apt to tune into small pleasures.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at newsgirl@comcast.net.