Simple Gifts

The old Shaker song rings true in these days of isolation here at the farm:

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free, ’tis the gift to come down where we ought to be. And when we find ourselves in the place just right, ’twill be in the valley of love and delight.

Elder Joseph Brackett

I find myself enjoying the simpler things these days… catching a glimpse of my new friend, the woodpecker, as he flies over the field (three times now I’ve seen him, gliding up and down on the breeze); watching the anole lizards skitter across the front porch, stopping to catch a snooze in the sun’s rays; delighting in the tiny sprouts of seeds in the garden I planted last week; and swinging on the porch swing on a warm afternoon with my sweetie by my side.

About a month ago, Bill installed something I’d been waiting for over the last five years: a clothesline! I have always gloried in hanging out clothes, but lines were not allowed in our previous community. Here on the farm, we found the perfect spot, where the sun hits both morning and afternoon, and the clothes have freedom to blow with abandon in the breeze.

While it may seem silly, for the past 20 years I’ve been saving a very special roll of clothesline rope — a Christmas gift from Mom and Dad. I’ve held on to it all these years, waiting for just the right time to use it. We’ve used the rope to tie down items in the truck now and then. In fact, it ended up in a friend’s truck a few months ago. When I realized this, I quickly contacted him and told him he was holding on to a treasure and not to let it out of his sight until I retrieved it. Thank goodness, he understood (but probably also thought I was nuts), and I picked it up right away.

The treasured rope.

Now, with my clothesline installed, I hang sheets and garments as I soak up the sun, listen to the birds, and recall the days of helping Mom hang out laundry off our back stoop. I can still hear the squeal of the pulley as she pushed the line filled with clothes up the hill to the oak tree at the other end. And I remember the delight of taking down stiff jeans and t-shirts that froze on the line on a New England winter’s day. On those frigid days, Mom would finish drying Dad’s frozen work clothes in the oven with nary a scorched knee!

As I think about simple gifts such as my rope and now my beloved clothesline, I’m reminded of the words that a good friend, Becky Mogob, would read to all of our students (and to all of the adults) at the end of the school year — simple reminders that we can all use…

• Remember the smell of the warm air in your bedroom
• When all is quiet, look out your bedroom window screen and enjoy the night sounds like crickets and frogs
• Lay on a lawn chair at night and look up at the stars, count them or try to find the little and big dipper and other constellations
• Get a jar, poke holes in the cover, catch fire flies and then set them free
• Find a cool patch under a tree, pack a lunch and enjoy the time with a friend
• Take a cool bath every night before bed, dunk your head under water, put a towel on your pillow and enjoy a good night’s sleep
• If you know of someone with a vegetable garden, help them weed and notice the difference between garden veggies and store-bought veggies
• Read your book under your sheets with a flash light
• Don’t stop learning just because it’s summer there are learning experiences all around you
• Talk to your elderly relatives about what they did during the summer when they were kids
• Ride a bike (but use a helmet)
• Play a game of hopscotch
• Respect your neighbor’s yard
• Have relay races with your friends
• Form teams and make sure your teammates change every time. Be sure to pick the kid for your team that isn’t the fastest runner, they need a chance too
• Camp outdoors
• Remember the smell of sunscreen
• Have a marshmallow roast
• Don’t play with fireworks or go near anyone who has them
• Celebrate the true meaning of July 4th, sing the patriotic songs you learned at school
• No T.V. even on rainy days…a little rain never hurt anyone ( I don’t ever remember watching TV as kid if I had a chance to play outside)
• Don’t talk to strangers and always walk with someone else.
• Read at least 3 books through the summer
• Try extra hard to get along with your sister or brother…peace is better than war
• Spend your summers outdoors, come in to eat, sleep and use the bathroom
• Stay active, drink a lot of water, take naps in the shade, help your mom or dad with some chores so they can spend some outdoor time with you
• Be a kid, don’t try to act like an adult
• After a storm – Catch a Rainbow

(Thank you, Becky Mogob!)

As we are in the midst of springtime, with summer quickly approaching, I hope you’re finding simple gifts all around you.

What are you noticing?

The Dearest Spot, by Barbara Hengstenberg