I fixed lunch the other day for the amigos when it struck me: those three are CRAZY about ketchup. They eat it with and/or on any meat product, any potato product, any cheese product, and lots of other stuff, too.
I know this will get the Swensen offspring in trouble with the hoi oligoi of Darke County, but they even plaster it on their Maidrites! I’ve informed them this is a crime in Greenville punishable by severe fines and up to a week of solitary confinement within one of the Great Darke County Fair bathrooms—during fair week—but they just can’t kick the habit. Krista continues to be amazed at how quickly the five-gallon tub (okay…I exaggerate…a little) in our refrigerator becomes empty. But we’re moderately intelligent people, Krista and I, and we’ve made two cagey adaptations: (1) we’ve purchased stock in the H. J. Heinz Company, and (2) we’ve permanently placed “ketchup” on the weekly grocery list.
This little tomato-product lovefest stimulated me to consider in earnest those things in my life which I love in a similar fashion—the daily, under-the-radar-of-consciousness items I enjoy but almost always take for granted. (After all, if you were to ask Abby, Daniel, or Luke “do you like ketchup?” they’d reply with an enthusiastic affirmative; but if you phrased it in an open-ended fashion—“Name me 25 things you really like/enjoy on a nearly day-to-day basis”—they’d almost certainly never offer ketchup as one of those things). For the past 48 hours I’ve been paying closer attention to those small scale blessings and rapidly offering up prayers of thanksgiving for them lest I allow an hour or more to pass and forget them (again) altogether, due in equal part to early onset Alzheimer’s and Chronic Ingratitude Syndrome.
So with apologies to Rogers and Hammerstein, here are a few of my favorite summertime things: the sound of a cleanly struck baseball (as a purist, I prefer the “thwack” of a wooden bat to the “ping” of a metal one, but the latter is growing on me…unless, of course, Luke or one of his teammates happens to be pitching); the pink glow of the clouds as the sun is descending in the western skyline; the sound of cicadas—a sound no words can describe, no combination of vowels and consonants can approximate. It is a sound that always and immediately takes me back to the simple beauty of my childhood, and the sensation and gauzy memory of falling asleep on summer evenings next to a screened window in a tiny bedroom on Hillcrest Road in West Lafayette, Indiana; the smell of fresh coffee brewing and the warmth of it in my mouth, particularly while I’m sitting on our front porch on an unusually cool summer morning listening to the park fowl announce the arrival of a new day; fresh blueberries, peaches, and sweet corn lathered with butter; the feel of the small of Daniel’s back as we lie together in his bed before he falls asleep; the feel of Luke’s, too, and the meandering, unpredictable, and surprisingly deep conversations we have (that often begin with “Why did God….?” Or “I’m sorry for…”) as he’s being courted by the sandman; hearing Abby’s heartfelt laughter when she’s with her friends, and watching her volley tennis balls back and forth with her mother, particularly when she uncorks a stinging backhand that was granted to her by her mother’s genes; encountering Graystripe, our Russian Blue cat, each morning—typically lying at the entrance of the boys’ bedroom, purring softly but also holding vigil over the household at night, guarding us in his desultory, feline fashion; the slightly exhilarating effect of the municipal pool’s chilly water on my skin when I enter it the first time on each visit, especially when I muster the gumption to submerge myself; the colors and textures and variety of sizes and shapes of the flowers Krista has nurtured in our yard; the smell of her hair and skin, the strength of her hand when she grips mine, the tone of her voice when she says “love you.” the feel of her head on my chest; and, in all seasons, the sweet, sweet sensation and freedom and joy that comes from the font of forgiveness.
These are a few of my favorite things.
Timothy Swensen is the author of the weekly column series Virtue and Mischief that is published every Tuesday in The Daily Advocate. He can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.Reach