Since restarting the Gratitude Journal, I’ve noticed that sometimes I’m grateful for things that I do–I’m actively pursuing what will fill me with thanks. For example, meeting my mom for lunch. Other times, gratitude is mixed with wonder when the universe just hands something down and points my head in that direction. Through this practice, I hoped to become more observant, more open to the world in all its textures—definitely helpful for writing and for being a human being. Here, I hoped to share those brief joys with you.

I guess that today I cheated—I went looking for that moment. Late in the afternoon, I really wanted to see ducklings, so I walked up the hill to the waterlily ponds. I hadn’t seen any ducklings there a few weeks ago, but today, I was the lucky duck!

ducklings and mother duck

At first I saw two or three, then five, then nine little fluffs zipping like motorboats among the lily pads. One decided to walk up the ramp, followed by mother duck, who watched closely as he stepped off the board and began to walk along the pool’s cement edge, maybe a foot above the water. Wait? What am I doing up here? After several quick looks and a few paces back and forth, he jumped and plopped down with a tiny splash.

For the poem today, not ducks, but sheep—Sally Fisher’s Here in the Psalm.

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Today, I’m grateful for the unexpected. Granted, sometimes it’s a kick in the pants or a punch in the gut—but other times, it’s wonderful.

This morning near the doorway to the office building, a squirrel, perched as though emerging from the mouth of the garbage can, nibbled a pizza crust. I was not quick enough to get a picture.

For today’s poem, we have The Balcony Collapses and I Become a Bird, by Rebecca Valley.

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Yes, water is a theme–and I’ve been always more grateful since our summer and winter of drought.

This morning, walking across the bridge, I saw the goslings again, and I hoped I would see ducklings. A little further down the path, I did! They were too tiny and too quick, zipping behind the log where the turtle sunned, and I could not catch my breath fast enough to get a photo.

At home in the garden, I checked up on the tomatoes and was amazed by their tiny fur. At first I thought it might be a mildew, or some kind of spit bug. Up close, just hundreds of fine bristles.

tomato plants

Later, Tom suggested we go to the Ivar’s barge for dinner. We found parking, and we found a table by the water. Plus fish and chips.

kayak on lake union

For your summer evening reading pleasure by the water or not, here is Petition, by K.A. Hayes.

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Today’s first moment of joy came on the bus, when a mom sat down with her glorious two-year-old son who started a five-way conversation in two languages.

I was on my way to have lunch with my mom–I’m always grateful to spend time with her even though I don’t spend nearly enough. And looking around today, I felt thankful for bodies, these mysterious machines that mostly keep us moving pretty well–despite any extra pounds and bad knees and knobby knuckles, bodies that keep working through time and fighting for us, doing their best against age and illness and plain gravity.

No photo today, and looking for poems, I found this one–a poem that is so much bigger than my quotidian day but too stunning not to share: Testimonial, by Rita Dove.

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This morning, the bald eagle perched on the lamppost above the highway. Traveling at 60 miles an hour, I looked as long as I could but did not attempt to take a picture. Seeing that enormous presence in the morning always feels like a blessing.

Later, restless from sitting too long at my desk and screen, I walked along the creek, and that too feels like a blessing. First, the walking, bad knee and all. Then the bridge with the water sliding under, the daily changes as plants bloom, as the rose hips start to swell fat and bright, as the water rises after rain and then falls low–so low in the drought year I worried it would not come back.

north creek from bridge

Sometimes, a heron. Today, only a small white fluff of a dog running, dragging a dusty red leash, a young woman stumbling to grasp it and stop him. Easy. I took a step to the left, and the pup was so surprised that he stopped. We laughed together as she picked up the leash.

Little moments like these.

For a poem, one of my favorites–yes, urban, and yet the fox is a wildness in Searching for Pittsburgh by Jack Gilbert.

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