The little things

Good morning

More leeks?


The gang's all here


All afternoon

It’s easy to be thankful for the big things: healthy family, food on the table, four sound walls, a roof, and heat. Tonight, to be sure, I’m thankful for all of those. And then some.

For the turkey that took hours longer to cook than we expected, but turned out delicious anyway.

For the dogs underfoot, stealing my seat every time I got off the sofa, and then putting their soft heads under my hands for affection.

For the cheese, oh lord, the delicious cheese.

For the duchess potato recipe that went horribly wrong and yielded what looked like tiny white cow patties.

For the dinner roll recipe that also went wrong, but we laughed.

For the family members who enjoyed dinner even when it was late and not perfect.

For the goats fighting each other for a taste of leek and brussels sprouts trimmings.

For the clumps of snow that came in with the dogs.

For the intoxicating cranberry spice punch that M concocted. And the one with gin and roasted lemons that L mixed up.

For board games and Doctor Who Yahtzee.

For singing “American Pie” with my sister and my daughter, and doing the dance we made up thirty years ago.

For leftovers wrapped in corn tortillas.

For plentiful hot water and soap.

For listening to the old songs.

For Burton Cummings making us howl with laughter, singing:

When I was a boy I dreamed I was a jeweler
With a family business that was free and clear
Selling golden earrings to Mrs. Mickey Mantle
Trying to be gentle while I stuck it in her ear

For words, hands, brains. For salt, butter, wine. For hearts. For voices. For the quiet moment gathering firewood. For laundry. For the puppy playing catch with himself. For pecan bars. For the snow plow. For smoke curling up from chimneys.

For the half moon, the high clouds, the shy stars. The headlights passing by in the darkness, cars holding tired children in back seats, watching the moon follow them all the way home.

For each and every one of you. Thank you, oh thank you, oh thank you.

52 Weeks – Summer (29/52)

RSiegel_Week29 - Summer

As you can tell, I’ve been trying to catch up on my posts for my 52-week photo project, so what are the odds that today’s post about summer would coincide with the first snow of the season?

I’ll turn this to my advantage.

How about we create a little space of insulation to ward off the chills by thinking back to a specific summer day?

Okay, here’s mine:

July 21, 2012. We’d taken ourselves down to Boston to celebrate my sister’s birthday.

Mid-day, we walked in town, along the beautiful new Greenway where a mess of highways used to be, walked barefoot through the fountains, scorched our feet on the hot pavement, watched children giggle and run, or stand mesmerized by the sparkling sprays of water.

Later, we took the subway to another part of the city, carried folding chairs, blankets, and a picnic-packed cooler, and walked to the band shell by the river’s edge.

Between acts

Little by little, a little later, the sun set. It cast shadows through the leaves. It made ribbons of gold on the river.


Sun water

Sunset sailors

Then, out came Burton Cummings, the reason the crowd was gathered there that evening.

As a member of The Guess Who, and then as a solo singer/songwriter, Burton had sung the songs of our Canadian childhood summers. His was the voice on the car radio as we sat on beach towels so we wouldn’t burn our legs on the hot vinyl seats, the voice crooning from the albums we saved out allowances to buy. As kids, Laurel and I knew all his songs by heart, every word, every beat, every high tenor note.

We still do.

And just as my remembering and writing this has taken me from this November day to that July day, the concert transformed that crowd of mostly gone-to-greys into teenagers again, whooping and dancing and singing in other summers. One memory leading to another, and then deeper back in time to another, like a series of nested matryokshka dolls, each similar, separate, related, connected.

Burton Cummings

There. I feel warmer already.

Okay. Now it’s your turn… tell me a summer memory.