As I've gotten older, I've come to cherish the time and ability to enjoy certain daily rituals. Newness and adventure can be exciting and stimulating, but for relaxation, contentment, and the sheer enjoyment of being alive, give me these daily rituals anytime.
I'm not talking about mundane daily rituals like cleaning up the kitchen or brushing my teeth, I'm talking about the rituals that add richness to life. (I was going to include daily showers as mundane, but remembered that it doesn't take more than a day or two of having to go without one to realize what a wonderful daily luxury they really are! The trick there is remembering to be grateful for their simple pleasure.)
When I'm fortunate, I've got three sets of daily rituals that currently punctuate my days.
The first ritual of the day is in the early morning, when I do a leisurely walkabout of the garden, with a cup of coffee in my hand. As I walk, I visit every plant and give it at least a cursory once-over to see if it needs care of any sort. This is when I decide that I really do need to spend some time weeding, or that the hydrangeas desperately need water, or that it's past time to prune the asters back, or that the garden is looking great and I don't need to do anything much except enjoy it. This morning's revelation was that the *#%@!* armadilloes got back in the yard last night and, if I didn't want to lose a lot of expensive plants, I'd better repair their damage immediately and block the drainage holes again. Unfortunately, they completely uprooted one of my last 3 dwarf cleomes and, with the heat, I don't think it's going to recover.
The second ritual of the day is in the late afternoon or early evening, when I grab my beverage of choice and wander back to the "Outback" to sit and veg or sit and cogitate. Sometimes I do this one by myself while waiting for Prairiewolf to get home, and sometimes I do it with Prairiewolf, if he has gotten home at a reasonable hour and is so inclined. Mainly this is a time for relaxing and letting go of the day's concerns, while watching the birds forage, the leaves dance in the breeze, and the light grow soft and dim. Mosquitoes usually signal the end of this magical time.
The photo here is of the "Outback", complete with my new addition of windchimes, a celebration of age and friendship from our dear friends Flip and Shelley. The chimes are tuned to the notes of the Chicago Jazz Festival, and form a link with far-off friends and places. Note, too, the bright white exclamation points of the bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) blooms, shining beside the Adirondack chairs. Bottlebrush buckeye is one of Michael Dirr's favorite yard shrubs and, as this one gets bigger, I can really see why. When it's in bloom, it lifts my spirit everytime I look at it.
The last enriching ritual of the day occurs as we get into bed for the night. Our cuddly, orange fluffball of a cat suddenly gets a wild, demon-eyed look and leaps upon any movement under the covers, fully intent upon destroying the enemy obviously lurking there. (Needless to say, we keep a heavy quilt on the bed these days!) T.J. stalks and pounces for several minutes, until he's sure that he's made the area safe for the night, then calmly proceeds to curl up for a good night's rest. Not to be left out, our big German Shepherd pup lays his huge head on the bed near our pillows, sincerely requesting a serious and lengthy good-night petting, before he, too, curls up beside us on the floor and goes to sleep.
These routines cost little except time, but how precious they are to me and how lucky I am to be able to enjoy them. Sometimes I think that we, as Americans, get so caught up in making money for more "things" that we lose sight of what really makes us happy.