Learning to Be Astonished

The Santiago Tales
November 10, 2011
A Foot in Both Worlds
December 4, 2011
The Santiago Tales
November 10, 2011
A Foot in Both Worlds
December 4, 2011

Learning to Be Astonished

On this Thanksgiving, I would like to give thanks for so many things. Family and friends, of course. Creature comforts. Employment. My cousin Mary and Tía Maruja, for cooking tonight”s feast. But this year, I”d also like to acknowledge the small things that are easier to take for granted. The autumn sun that filters through the trees, casting its golden glow on the orange and red hues that surround us in this season. The enticing aromas that emanate from the kitchen—from all of those braises, roasts, and soups that you finally feel like cooking, now that it”s no longer 80 degrees outside. The twinkling lights that adorn the streets and storefronts of my city, signaling the imminent arrival of another magical holiday. For these and many more things, I am grateful.

And I am also thankful for all of you, dear readers and friends—for your support and encouragement as I work to get my novel into the world, which sometimes feels like a Sisyphean task. May your Thanksgiving be filled with joy, the company of loved ones, and food that warms your body and soul.

To conclude this post, I had planned on searching the Internet for the perfect quote, but the folks at the Queens County Farm Museum have done my homework for me (and for that, I am grateful as well). In the e-newsletter they mailed out yesterday, they included a wonderful poem by Mary Oliver that perfectly captures the spirit of the season—and my mood. Although I am pasting it here, I encourage you to visit their website, to discover all of yukonpowderhounds the cool stuff that goes on out there in eastern Queens. It”s a little surreal to get off of a city bus, walk past a row of homes, and end up at an actual working farm, but it”s a nice kind of surreal. If you live in New York City and haven”t yet visited, you”re missing out. And if you enjoy Ms. Oliver”s poem, below, why not pick up a collection from the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet?

Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
 —Mary Oliver