Possumhaw: What a wonderful day



Shannon Bardwell



"Did you see the sunrise this morning, did you hear the mockingbird sing, did you touch the hand of a good friend, well that's a beautiful thing. Did you taste a strong cup of coffee, did you smell the freshly cut hay, did you sing I'm alive, I'm alive, what a wonderful day."


­-- Tricia Walker, singer/songwriter




Fall has been particularly lovely this year, perhaps because it came so quickly as a much-needed break from scorching temperatures. Now it appears fall is "leaving" just as fast as chilling temperatures arrive early. The wild black cherry tree retains some red, orange and yellow leaves. The ash is all but bare. Fallen leaves blanket the ground. The spider lilies have left us. Pecans are everywhere, blown down by Arctic winds. Our world feels cozy with sweaters and knitted afghans. Already, popcorn and hot chocolate and Mississippi State girls' basketball.


I wanted to celebrate by decorating our doors with autumn wreaths and garlands. We're expecting company for Thanksgiving and, further, it would add to my own enjoyment. Visiting three stores, I found one lonely wreath. It was the first week of November and already fall had disappeared and been replaced by massive Christmas displays. Either everyone was also enthralled by fall and beat me to decorating, or Christmas buying edged out fall and, with it, Thanksgiving.


The wreath fit the bill for the door display as did the garland. I find myself gazing at it and feeling so thankful. Taking a moment to look away from the errands, work and concerns of the day, my world looks beautiful.


Walking to the mailbox, I found it stuffed with seasonal catalogs and also a magazine, Joanna Gaines' magazine, Magnolia Journal -- inspiration for life and home. I enjoy this magazine. It's gratifying to feel paper beneath my fingertips and flip real pages. Sometimes I write my thoughts in the margins. I like that some of the people in the magazine look like me -- Helen Mirren, age 74, in rosy tone moisturizer.


Lately I'm aware I go to more funerals than birthday parties and baby showers. Joanna suggests: To choose instead only the moment that's unfolding right in front of me. To breathe in every sight and every sound. To hold it all dearly. Who we become is shaped more by the mundane than by milestones.


In the magazine there's article on Gabe Grunewald, a beautiful 23-year-old athlete diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2009. It was incurable, and a survival rate of five years was high. Several times she thought she beat it, but it would come back. She didn't stop running. In 2017 she said, "I think sometimes we're too quick to give up on the things we love and the things that makes us feel alive when something is going wrong in our lives. But I really feel strongly that we have to hold onto them."


All of the above made me realize we choose our days and how to live them, even our busyness. When Gabe was told in June of this year she was dying, she yelled out, "Not today."


Every day holds something wonderful. Don't give up. Don't give in. Not today.



Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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