What Lucky Is

Snowy Trail

So there I was, lost in a trance of beauty,
the scene looking like a poster for winter,
draped in sun-dazzled, shimmering snow,
near tears, thinking how lucky I was
just to be here, seeing this,
when all of a sudden, down the hill
and around the trail’s’ curve
comes this golden retriever,
bounding at me full speed.

“Max! Max!” his owner called, afraid
that he would scare me.
But how could I be frightened
by such exuberant joy?
“It’s okay!” I called back, kneeling
to greet the dog, his golden fur
glistening with snow as he bounded
in circles around me, panting, his face
telling me that I had no idea
what lucky was.  To know,
you’d have to be a big dog,
released from the house at last
to play in the woods and snow,
on a shining mid-winter day.

Hearing the Call: A Happiness Tale

Horned GrebeIt was during the blinding snow storm that the little horned grebe lost his way.   It had been all he could do just to stay aloft.  And when at last the air cleared, his flock was nowhere in sight.

He kept flying, landing at the lakes, large and small, and keeping an eye out for his companions.  But it had been many days now and he was beginning to accept that he was alone.

One morning, as he flew through a stretch of especially pleasant air, he heard a beautiful and alluring song unlike any he had heard before.  It sounded a bit like the sighing of trees, but it had a melody to it that seemed, somehow, to be calling him.

He adjusted his course and flew toward the song, growing more and more enraptured by it with every stroke of his wings.   It almost seemed that the song itself was holding him aloft and guiding his direction.

At last he found himself over a pair of small, twin lakes, joined by a sweet little waterfall.  And it seemed as if it were these lakes themselves and the trees surrounding them that were singing the music that had called him.  “Welcome, little bird.  Welcome,” they sang.

He lowered himself to the waters and found them just the right temperature and depth for perfect swimming.  Below him he saw abundant fishes in patches of dancing light and shade.  Looking about, he saw a tall heron wading at the west edge of the pond, and a single, elegant mallard paddling gracefully near the eastern shore.

He didn’t know if these were ponds for the lost or for the lucky.  But they felt like heaven, and he decided to call them home.

Making Wishes

Apple Star

“When an apple has a star inside,” Mother said, her voice dripping with magic, “you get to make a wish.”

I stand close by, shifting from one foot to the other in anticipation and watch her paring knife slice through the dark red skin and down into the crisp flesh.  Juice bubbles  up along the knife’s blade and my mouth waters at its fragrance.

Finally, the apple falls into halves, exposing its center.  “A star!  It’s a star, Mother!”

“Quick,” she says, “Make a wish!”

I close my eyes and think the happiest thought I can conjure, feeling lucky down to my toes.

Birthday candles, dandelion and milk weed seeds, the evening’s first star, and now stars within apples.  Oh, the world is filled with so many wonderful chances!

The Messenger: A Happiness Tale

Spirit DoveLittle Pine wandered through the woods all day thinking about his friend, Red Leaf.  What could he take home as a token of their friendship?

Of all the leaves he had befriended this year, Red Leaf held a special place in Little Pine’s heart.  He had grown so close to the ground, right beside Little Pine’s branches.  They had shared so many adventures.

“What could I find that would remind me of him?” Little Pine wondered.  Red Leaf had loved everything and heard the song of the Great Yes in every sprig of moss, every blade of grass.

Little Pine remembered how Red Leaf would laugh out loud sometimes for no reason.  And when Little Pine would ask him why he was laughing, he would say “Just because I’m so lucky to have come here.”

When late afternoon came, Little Pine stopped beneath the branches of a cousin pine.  He and Red Leaf often rested here together in the afternoon.  Red Leaf loved to watch the songbirds at play high in the elder pine’s boughs.   They were one of his favorite things.

Little Pine sat down and leaned against the tree’s sturdy trunk.  He would rest here, he thought, for just a little while.

As he closed his eyes, he imagined that he could hear the singing of summer birds and that Red Leaf was sitting beside him.   The sound of softly fluttering wings caught his attention, and when he looked up, he saw a beautiful white dove with golden ribbon tied in a bow around her neck.  The spirits of leaves danced all around her.

“I bring you greetings, Little Pine, from Red Leaf,” she cooed.  “He sends you great waves of joy.  He wants you to know that he hears the singing of your heart and that the two of you will be brothers in spirit always.”

Then the dove flew away.  And when Little Pine opened his eyes, right in front of him he saw a soft, pure white feather.   When he picked it up, he thought he heard the singing of summer birds, and mixed with their song, Red Leaf’s gentle laugh.

He laughed, too, and skipped happily home, the feather singing in his hands.

Garden Fairy

Luna MothOnly because I spotted the tip of her wing did I find her.   I was watering the flowers.

“What’s there?” I said, kneeling down to look up at the hydrangea leaf from below.  “Oh, my!”

“Look!  Look, Bob!” I said excitedly to my neighbor who had raised his eyebrows, watching me crawl beneath the bush.  “Look!  It’s a Luna Moth!”  I had never seen one intact, alive; I’d only found wing fragments in the grass on lucky days.

She was larger than my hand, and she took my breath away.  What a magical being!

“They only live for seven days,” I told him.   “Look!  Isn’t she beautiful?”

Radiant Coins of Joy

ColtsfootScattered along the roadside, as if angels had dropped golden coins, the coltsfoot appeared today.  Not many, I suppose, noticed.  The blossoms are hardly bigger than a quarter, after all, and grow low to the ground.

But when they caught my eye, I shouted their name right out loud.  Coltsfoot!  They’re the first wildflowers of spring hereabouts, and sighting them feels as lucky as seeing the first robin.  They’re plentiful, edible, and absolutely gorgeous in a spring salad.  They have multiple healing and magical properties, too.

And as if that were not wondrous enough, when you take a blossom in your hand and look at it closely, its beauty is so stunning that it can almost make you cry.  Look at this intricate design, with the little buds inside that open into blossoms within blossoms, and the delicate little seeds dancing on their pale green stems, and the joyous radiant petals, fanning out like a child’s drawing of the sun.

And here they are, just wantonly scattered along the roadside, little golden coins of joy, free for the taking.  How can you see such a thing and not know that all is well, and that we are loved?

The Least We Can Do

Sunrise

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Sink down past the superficial words of thanks.  Park your hurry and your rushing by the door.  They’ll wait.

Just for now, let yourself taste the sheer lucky of eyes, of ears, of breathing, of feeling everything you feel.  Can’t you see that it’s a miracle?

All this—all of it—is for us, you know.  We’re why they hang the stars at night and why they invented shoes and noodles.  It’s all for us. Everything.

Think of the molecules they had to cram together just to make it real.  Think how unlikely it is.  And then to top it all off, they let us love.

The least we can do is be amazed, offer some applause.  I mean check out that morning sky.  Doesn’t it make you want to go into the day glad and singing?

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Coins of Golden Joy

Showering Yellow Maples LeavesAs they ride October’s parade to the end of her days, the sugar maples toss down their leaves as if they were coins of golden joy.   They shower down around us bright as butter, looking like they snatched the sun itself from sky.  The forest floor glows with their light.

It’s impossible to walk here now and feel anything but rich, even if our pockets hold nothing but wishes and our old play socks have holes.

The air wraps around us warm and fragrant.  Geese fly overhead in long, noisy Vs.  Under the oak, squirrels are stashing acorns.

We feel like we own the world. We laugh for no reason except that we’re lucky and free. And here beneath a blue bowl of sky, we’re ankle deep in coins of joy.