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Another Day in the Country

What brings you pleasure?

© Another Day in the Country

Do you know? Have you thought about it? It’s important to know, for yourself and for your intimate circle. It’s a grand conversation topic.

So, can you list some answers, quickly, right off the top of your head? What brings you pleasure? Or did you say to yourself, I have to think about it.

First thought! Here’s mine: Sunshine. I love it — no matter the time of year. Feeling the warmth of sunshine is great. It’s soothing. It’s cheerful. It warms your soul.

I love Kansas sunshine. It’s why I couldn’t live in Oregon — too much rain, too much cloudy weather.

Even in 105-degree weather, I like sunshine because of the enormous relief of sitting in the shade or feeling a cold breeze or even walking into the shaded depths of an air-conditioned house. It’s the contrast — delicious.

What else? What brings you pleasure?

The smell of lilacs in spring, Eucalyptus trees on a breezy California winter’s day, the green smell of fresh cut hay, musk perfume — a certain kind, a brand I cannot find anymore, and how it reacts with my skin. Delicious.

The sight of a loved one, when I fly into Oakland or Sacramento and wearily head for the baggage carousel, waiting, and then turn around, and there’s my tall, lovely daughter striding toward me. Or when I get to the car and my even-taller-than-last-time, reserved, grandson opens his arms to me — pure pleasure.

A letter — the kind that comes in an envelope, handwritten, with an interesting stamp on the exterior, postmarked from some far-away place — and you know immediately who it’s from because you recognize that handwriting.

I just hold the letter in my hand and smile for a second. I can’t help myself.

My most recent letter came from my friend DeWitt, the sculptor, with the return address, “Old Dog sans collar,” in the state of Alabama. written on lined notebook paper with a three-hole punch. Who has that around anymore at his age?

“These are the best years of my life,” he writes. “I wonder that I’ve lived so long — 73 years old, and the years run together like so many trucks on the interstate.”

Undiluted pleasure as I drink in every word, even reading between the lines.

Planning things brings me pleasure — even little things. Anticipating brings me pleasure.

My sister and I are longtime event planners, and we still are thrilled at the challenge, even if it’s just breakfast for two or tea for ten.

That’s the latest pleasure we’re revelling in — a small, intimate tea party for our cousin Janet’s friends.

Yesterday we designed the invitation. Creating brings me endless pleasure. It was two hours at the kitchen table, drawing, cutting, pasting, tracing, folding, and gluing it all together.

Meanwhile, my sister is listing possibilities for the menu. That’s her pleasure: creating delicious decadent desserts. (I do the decorations, the invites, and the sandwiches, and she concocts beautiful sweets for the occasion.)

She’s made these miniature pavlovas, topped with diced strawberries (not whole, not sliced, not macerated, but tiny squares of delicious fruit), whipped cream, drizzled with chocolate sauce.

Crispy, soft, sweet, flavorful, finger-licking decadence: pure pleasure in five bites.

Surprises bring me pleasure — at Christmas, on weekends, in the mailbox, even at the door — especially anticipated surprises like when a holiday is coming or your birthday looms.

Winning a game of solitaire brings me pleasure. In fact, winning any game is fun.

Come to think of it, what’s the difference between fun and pleasure? Maybe fun is louder, more rambunctious, with other people involved, where pleasure is quieter, more thoughtful, individualistic, even solitary — uniquely yours.

Capturing things in a photograph brings me pleasure — exquisite pleasure. Looking at those images again and again is still pleasurable years later — maybe even more so.

Words bring me pleasure. There is nothing quite as thrilling as a well-written sentence.

I read lots of books. About one in 10 is actually pleasurable. You’ll know when you find one because you’ll look forward to the moment when you can pick it up and continue on this well-defined journey. Even the thought of it brings pleasure.

The most recent book I’ve been reading is called, “The End of the Story,” by A.J. Finn. May I share a pleasurable sentence?

One of the book’s characters enters what can only be described “as a chamber: deep and broad and tall, hardwood underfoot, the ceiling coffered in walnut. A range of windowpanes scrubbed clear, the Golden Gate springing across the dark bay beyond; but the room — cavernous, ravenous — sucks up the evening light, eats it alive.”

Time brings me pleasure. Of course, it also brings other things, too. But I wake up, check that everything in my body is still working, test the limits, wonder what would please me for breakfast, and pause to relish the day ahead.

That very thought brings a smile, anticipation, courage, and wonder because we, my friend, are spending another day in the country.

Last modified June 12, 2024

 

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