Posts tagged: Spokane Public Radio
(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)
I turned the corner, down an unfamiliar street, my mind so oblivious to where I was going I might just as well have been a dog with its head out the window, lost in the delicious rush of mysterious and fragrant air, just happy to be out and about with no thought of what might be ahead.
Most of the leaves had fallen from the trees, swept down by the wind and an early snowfall, and the sidewalks and street were littered with the russet and copper remnants of a spectacular autumn. But at the end of the block a scarlet tree still blazed, a burning bush, bright and vibrant against the faded landscape. Even the sun could not ignore it and sunlight danced in the tree, painting the leaves with subtle shades and shadows.
It was impossible to look away and I didn’t try. I gazed at it as I drove by and even looked back at it in the rearview mirror.
Thursday my family will sit down to our Thanksgiving meal and for the first time one of our small group will be absent. My son is away, working in Japan, and we will miss him even as we celebrate his success.
We are so fortunate to have made it this far without an empty seat at the table. Even in difficult times—and I have never pretended there weren’t some truly difficult days—we gathered, held hands, and spoke aloud the things for which we were most grateful.
Each year I compose a mental list but when it is my turn to speak, the words fly out of my head. I tear up and can say only that I am grateful for the love of those around me. But what I can never seem to get out is that I am filled with gratitude for the gift of a million small moments.
There were quiet Sundays spent reading, curled in the big chair beside the fire, my husband stretched out on the sofa. There were Saturday morning feasts that lured home grown children who filled the house with the sound of laughter and the smell of bacon and coffee.
There were quiet walks through the park with my dogs and the rapturous look on my daughter’s face as we stood in Notre Dame Cathedral on a rainy January day in Paris. There was the afternoon my son turned to me and recited a poem I’d read to him when he was a boy, and my firstborn’s secret smile when she told us her news.
There were shooting stars glimpsed from my back door and my youngest daughter’s shining face as she sat in the saddle, flying on horseback. There was, just this week, the chance encounter with a beautiful brilliant tree in a landscape that had already surrendered to winter.
On Thanksgiving Day I will blink back tears and fumble the opportunity to say what I feel. But in my heart I will celebrate the quiet gift of time and the chance to have lived one more extraordinary year of ordinary days.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes for The Spokesman-Review and is a contributing editor at Spokane Metro Magazine. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at email@example.com
When I was in my mid-20s, I spent a summer in New York City working and studying. I immediately fell in love with the city and found my pulse danced to the constant rhythm of traffic and people; to a compact space filled with people that was alive and moving at any hour of the day.
It was a world away from the relatively quiet way I’d lived up until then and I couldn’t get enough.
I was staying in an apartment on the campus of Columbia University and working at New York University, at the opposite end of the island and I spent most of my days traveling up and down Manhattan by subway or taxi, sometimes by bus.
One day I was lost in thought as I walked several blocks from the subway stop to my apartment, already accustomed to the noise and crowded sidewalks and the heat, when, suddenly, something arrested me. I stopped, confused. I didn’t know why, but I was instantly and deeply, homesick. I missed my husband. I wanted my grandmother, my cats. I could think of nothing but the important people and places in my life, a life that was a thousand miles away.
I noticed the man pushing a lawnmower across Columbia’s wide quadrangle, a place always populated by students and others moving quickly from one place to another, or lounging, relaxing, socializing and realized it was the scent of freshly mowed grass that had hit me. It was the familiar fragrance so closely associated with summer where I was from that had overpowered the smell of asphalt baking in the sun and garbage in the dumpsters and food from the tiny bars and delis lining the street.
It had found me and wound around me, capturing me the way such things do in cartoons.
I’ve never forgotten the way I felt that day and I was reminded of it again last night when I stepped out my back door to enjoy the last light of the day. My husband had just mowed our tiny back yard and the air was heavy and sweet with the smell of green summer grass.
And, in the peculiar way life has of taking the years and turning them over and inside out, and then at the most unexpected moments handing them back to us to examine, I was assailed by the memory of being young and brave and foolish. Of being so hungry for adventure and experience I would jump at almost any opportunity to go and do and see.
I am now, I realized, a product of the joys and heartaches; the babies, the jobs, the moves and the experiences that have shaped me since that hot August day in New York. I’ve traveled the world. I’ve seen a few things along the way. But long ago I surrendered to the knowledge that wherever I go I am always, inextricably, drawn back to the green grass of home.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes for The Spokesman-Review and is the editor of Spokane Metro Magazine. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons.”
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Each audio essay is then added to the KPBX podcasts and now those podcasts are available on iTunes.
So, if you don't catch it in print or online, you can hear Home Planet on iTunes here.