“I remember telling myself that I was going to live the rest of my life as it it were Saturday. – C. Gaines
I woke early this morning. The strong cold wind that had chilled me on last night’s walk had subsided, but the morning breeze combined with temperatures in the low 30’s made the trip down the drive for the paper a chilling experience. The wind lasted into the early morning hours, stripping the trees of leaves and also clearing those in the yard; no need to worry about raking today. The sun had yet to rise above the treeline and a sense of barrenness pervaded. Neighboring homes that were hidden by the summer foliage now peek through leafless trees, and as I walk outside I note the morning’s silence. The air that was once filled with morning bird calls is cold and quiet. The steam from my coffee rises and fogs my glasses as I take a sip. Winter doesn’t officially begin for another three weeks, but this morning, mother nature is saying, “Get ready!” As I finish my coffee, the sun appears above the treeline and I stand in the first rays of a new day. It’s rejuvenating! It’s inspiring! It’s cold; I think I’ll read the paper in the warmth of the kitchen.
The first Saturday after Thanksgiving has become known as “Small Business Saturday.” Some would have you believe that the holiday shopping season begins the day before, but not for me. The commercialization of the Friday after Thanksgiving, and its profit-focused name, “Black Friday” (Is that even politically correct anymore?) doesn’t even seem seasonal. I finish reading the paper, put some coffee in a travel mug and set out for West Reading, a small nearby community with a Main Street filled with small businesses.
The weather was, indeed, seasonal. Snippets of bright warm sun were interspersed with quickly moving dark clouds. Small gusts of wind still swirled leaves on the street and blew them across my windshield. The outside temperature was 41 degrees, but when the clouds covered the sun, it seemed much cooler. On a nearby pond, I notice thin patches of ice covering areas not filled with geese or ducks. As I near my destination, I’m impressed with the number of homes that are fully decorated. A number are in-process and then, like mine, many are still in the planning (aka procratination) stage. Decorating can occur next week, today is Small Business Saturday.
Over the years I’ve learned that a good parking spot on this day takes planning, patience and most of all, luck. Penn Avenue is the main street that runs through West Reading. Parallel parking is the rule and the trick is to enter from the West side. The speed limit is 25 mph, so I move at about 15 mph (much to the ire of the driver behind me) scanning for an open space. Everything is filled, but with one block to go I hit the big one; a Chevy Suburban is loading. I slow a little to time my arrival with the behemoth SUV’s departure. I slide right in, not even needing to demonstrate my exceptional parallel parking skills. And the parking is free.
The sidewalks are filled with shoppers and people just enjoying the atmosphere that seems to surround this day. A small tent has been set-up by the merchant’s association and representatives are thanking the shoppers for supporting the local businesses. A neighbor works in one of the small shops, so I stopped by for some conversation and gift ideas. The next hour is spent wandering in and out of stores, making notes and seeing a few acquaintances. I made a few small purchases, found my way back to the car and headed home. I felt good about supporting small businesses, but equally important the friendliness of those I had encountered provided me with a holiday boost.
I returned home, changed and went to the gym; a place that has become somewhat of a sanctuary for me. For the next hour I pushed myself hard, lifting, doing cardio and incorporating some of the balance exercises designed for me by my trainer, Allie. I left feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and still frustrated by the Bosu balance ball. Leaving, I couldn’t help but take notice of the afternoon shadows. It was only 3:00, but the sun was now low on the horizon. It’s firepit time.
Returning home, I grabbed a quick shower, threw on some jeans, a sweatshirt and a vest. I wouldn’t need much more. I had collected kindling previously, so I arranged it in the firepit and started a fire that would lead to reflection and this piece. Over the next two hours I spoke with one of my brothers and a good friend. I answered some emails and read three chapters of Ryan Holiday’s work, The Obstacle is the Way. There was no real sunset. Much like in the early morning, the sun played hide and seek between the clouds. Soon it was below the treeline and a chill set in. The flames from the firepit danced, lighting the deck and surrounding area. I am indeed blessed. It was a very good day. Tomorrow, and in the days to come, I face a challenge; I need to find more ways in which I can brighten the days of others, as so many did for me today, so that they too can say, ‘It was a very good day.
Embrace the Challenge