Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Best Things in Life are Free

All year I dream of January, that time when everything seems simple and fresh. A time when I clear the clutter of decorations adorning every room, (enough red and green please), and rid the cupboards of the final remnants of Christmas goodies. In return, I enjoy the outdoors more, cook simple meals and feeling well rested and organized I try to focus my 'almost ready for bi-focal' eyes on the new year. Rather than making any new year's resolutions, this year I have a mental list of things to do, which we may, or more likely, may not accomplish.

I have two lists running through my mind daily. There is the list of things that will need to be done this year and the much longer list of things I would really love to do. However, current calculations tell me the list of must do items may soon exceed the wish list and in fact, my practical husband would probably say it already does.

Yes, we do need to get ready for next year's winter, totally unprepared were we to hear how loud the wind howls as it passes through our house. It really gathers steam as it wraps around the kitchen and races up the stairs into our bathroom before escaping through the one inch gap over an improperly installed window. Adding missing screens to some of our windows will, also, provide comfort on those days when a beautiful warm breeze strolls down our road but the no vacancy sign has been hung at the fly motel aka the kitchen. Not to mention, they would make life easier for our daughter, who has a high sensitivity to mosquitoes and an even higher sensitivity to the sight of any bug in general. (We'll make a country girl of her yet, but I'll save that for another post.)

But does anyone, in their right mind, want to dream about abating the wind and flies? I save my dreaming for the second list. Dreaming is free, so you may as well dream big or go home. When I dream about my vegetable garden, I'll have so many different vegetables and herbs that we'll be putting canned tomatoes in the Christmas gift baskets we make for our family and friends for the next five years. Thankfully, I have finally come to realize that dreaming big doesn't mean you have to act big. It's taken me almost forty years but I realize that I can easily overwhelm myself with my dreams. Just ask my parents. They were witness to the first house I bought on my own and the havoc that ensued. They helped me renovate after I had completely gutted it only to run into financing trouble to reconstruct. There were a few tears, on more than one occasion, before everything was sorted out, but I own a beautiful house on a river (that someone else hopefully enjoys living in) and more importantly, we're still on speaking terms. So while I have come to an understanding of my limits, I still enjoy the reverie of large vasts of perennial gardens with a tiered stream running through it, I just omit the part about it being the year 2024 and the fact that I'm retired.

Of course, it helps to be able to have a dream or two that can come to fruition easily. A little instant gratification or something close to it can help get you over the hump while you wait for those grander illusions to come true. The pond in our backyard effortlessly helps with that. With a little time spent by my husband and neighbour keeping it clear of snow, everyone has enjoyed countless hours skating and playing hockey. In the last week alone, our 3 year old neighbour has gone from barely being able to stand on his skates to almost skating on his own. He's almost as determined as the red squirrel who keeps trying to invade our sun room. Without a doubt, when my husband viewed our property for the first time, the main selling feature was the pond and over the last few weeks he has been able to enjoy it for all it's worth...immeasurable.

My husband's long time friend from his public school days came to visit us over the holidays, to play a little pickup hockey on the pond, of course. He noted in a card to us, how after helping us move, he realized just how much stuff we have and that we probably didn't really need any 'thing'. How right I thought to myself as I pictured the garage and workshop overflowing with items that we really should divest ourselves of. As a gesture of real Christmas giving, he offered his labour free of charge for whatever projects we do decide to progress with this summer, in his words "there is lots to do". A gift of time, it was the best thing we received this year.

Dreams, skating ponds and friendship. The best things in life really are free.

No comments: