Thursday, Feb 21, 2019 —

                                                                            Gratitude

 I am spending a weekend in the country, at an adorable cottage on my daughter’s farm, near The Plains, VA. The weather has gone from a temperature of 67 degrees when I arrived on Friday, to a cold wet rain with the threat of snow or sleet on Sunday night.  It’s typical Virginia late winter/early spring weather. I don’t believe it will snow tonight. But still, the weather is a constant mystery. And I love it. The fact that it is so changeable is fun. I have plenty of warm clothes. And I am so grateful for everything. So grateful to have the chance to come here and decompress.

The fireplace in the cottage is made of stone, not firebrick, and it throws off a lot of heat. There is a joke around the farm, about how much wood I use. It is true that I am profligate with wood burning; I love the sight and sound of an open fire so much. I could stare at the fire for hours–It brings all sorts of imagination to the fore. Before I knew about meditation, I loved to look at the fire in a fireplace and let my mind rest. “Sometimes I sets and thinks, and sometimes, I just sets” is an old Virginia expression to which I relate. And a fire in the fireplace is one trigger for that same sort of non-thinking that meditation brings about. Restful in the extreme.

Everywhere I look, there is beauty, and peace. A huge pond ripples and glistens with reflected light from the sky– no sun today but a glistening, rippling expanse of water that seems to be trying to move outside its banks. Hundreds of daffodils are emerging, halfway up out of the ground. They must be confused by the different signals that Mother Nature is sending them.” Rise Up!” “No, never mind. Hang tight.” And though the leaves on the poor little struggling spring flowers have brown tips where frost has tainted them, the stems will soar, soon enough and blossoms open. Yellow blooms will extend soon down the driveway and we will know for sure that spring is here. We are on the way to the month of March now. More than halfway through February.

The gratitude I feel extends well past this farm. The entire countryside, unblemished by commercial space or even many houses, is open to all the wildlife that lives here. Deer herds are actually a problem. Bears are sighted regularly, and possums and raccoons and squirrels and rabbits and chipmunks abound. Birds are plentiful; even hawks and eagles soar in the sky above this county. Riders on horseback and runners on foot share these roads with bicyclers, who seem to come in droves. No wonder they are here. We have hundreds of miles of dirt roads. We also have wonderful two- lane, paved roads, which many people wish the bicyclers would stay off. I do worry about someone running them down, by accident.

When I wake up here in the cottage, my heart is full the moment I realize I am in my own bed, my old bed from my own, former house.  Here in the cottage, of course, it is different from city living. Sometimes the heat is off, or it is intensely windy. At times like that I am grateful for the curtains surrounding my bed, and I draw them the moment I get in. It makes a little house for me to stay, snug and warm, and cuddling my dog, Magnus, for added warmth.

Most of the time, I now live in Washington, D.C. with my 101 year old mother. I sleep in my old room, in my childhood house.  There is already a bed in that room, SO, there was no point in bringing my bed to Washington. Besides, my bed is a four-poster, with high posts. We did measure to see if it would fit in my bedroom at Mother’s, but it would not because the eaves in that bedroom come down too close and too low. So. I sleep in the bed that was there, missing my own bed in the cottage, with its pretty hangings which I can draw if it gets too cold. At Mother’s, the central heat is very effective. There is no need for bed-hangings.

My sensitivity to gratitude has been heightened by meditation. I believe that meditation has altered something in me, and I am forever changed. When such intense gratitude engulfs me, I wallow in it. Being grateful for the gratitude may sound silly. But that is how I feel. And I believe it is contagious. Be careful. You might catch it from reading this.

If I let myself, I will never be able to stop thinking of things for which to be grateful. For the peace that engulfs me, and all the things around me. The sheets on the bed, the feather pillows upon which I rest my head and the duvet that keeps me cosy. My warm dog, who sleeps beside me every night. My fireplace and tiny kitchen, indoor plumbing and central heat and air conditioning.

Best of all for daily comfort is Magnus. What a marvelous thing it is to have a loving dog. I appreciate him for the companionship he gives. We all need something to love and if you do not have a partner, it is important to find something else upon whom to bestow your affection. Dogs are super easy to love, and they love us unconditionally. Never underestimate the power of love, even the love between a dog and its owner. That feeling of love actually sends positive physiological signals to our bodies and our souls. Thank goodness for pets, all varieties.  I am grateful.

Magnus

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Copyright©.  2019 Bonnie B. Matheson

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