In the classic musical, The Sound of Music , Julie Andrews sings this song to comfort the seven children for whom she is the governess. Frightened by a severe thunderstorm, they have run into her bedroom, one by one, to snuggle into the deep feather bed and escape their fears. It’s a memorable scene as she enumerates her ‘favorite things’ to change the dark mood and lift their spirits.
Now that the bitter cold winter is in the past and the summer heat has left us we are grateful for autumn. The time seems appropriate to consider what each of us deems one’s favorite things. The list has to be very personal and I found as I put mine together that it was quite easy and natural to choose a few of my favorites. I hope you each will put your own list together and enjoy doing it. Here, in no particular order is my list:
The sun glimmering on the trunks of the white birch trees in the early morning. I can see them through the window next to my desk. This lovely sight is clearest in the winter when the trunks are bare of foliage. They beckon me to leave my work and venture out for my morning walk. Usually, I resist their pull and wait an hour or so until the day warms up and the sun is higher in the sky. Then I meet the day, walking familiar lanes through the neighborhood. In the spring, I am watching for crocus and daffodils along the way. Today, the last of the New Guinea impatiens are blooming in the borders, purple, white and pink. I have to navigate among the acorns falling from the tall oak trees.
Next on my list: Bread.! Many varieties. Warm pita at the Greek restaurant, dipped in sour cream, garlic and cucumber bits.. Raisin challal and sweet butter. A toss up if it is best in thick slices or just torn from the braided loaf. Chewy sourdough… tastes best in San Francisco, but delicious anywhere. Small twisted dinner rolls, warm of course. Pumpernickel, dark and moist. Either the loaf or as raisin rolls. Again, sweet butter is a must. Crusty Italian bread. Very fresh unseeded rye bread for all the favorite sandwiches. Croissants, warm and flaky. Bread! Bread! Who needs the rest of the meal? Not I.
The love duets from “La Boheme” and “Lucia Di Lammermoor”. Soaring lush melodies envelop the listener. I anticipate each note and phrase. Both stories have tragic endings, but the thrilling music epitomizes for me the romanticism of the composers. Favorite operas: “La Traviata“, “Carmen”, “Aida” which we once heard in Rome at night at The Baths of Caracalla, complete with camels and horses on stage.
Doing the New York Times crossword puzzle each morning — in ink. Monday is the easiest and each day the puzzles become progressively harder. By Saturday, there are some words and puns built in to tickle the mind that remain elusive. I will return during the day until the entire grid is conquered. Once in a while, certain blocks are impenetrable and I have to wait for the next day’s paper to discover where I went wrong. Sunday is the large puzzle with a timely theme. Once I break the theme, it becomes pure unadulterated fun! And a complete escape from the stresses of daily life.
Finding a new novel I can immerse myself in. And re-reading one of the novels that I know so well and love. The Age of Innocence. Brideshead Revisited. The Great Gatsby. These are old friends and I look forward to special passages and read them aloud.
Trying something new. Finding a new challenge. When the newspaper that published my weekly column for fifteen years went under, one of my sons and my daughter said, “Go in cyberspace, Mom.” And I did just that in May 2014. Two computer whizzes helped me set up my web site, jsawrite.com with orchids across the top. Four main sections: Home. Books. Passions. Blogs. The last are my columns with another title. Every Monday, I post a new one. Some readers post welcome comments. In December 2014, I received a summary of results from Word Press, my server: 1,722 hits on my blogs. 672 people in 57 countries. Wow!
Traveling to Italy holds rich memories of splendid cities and the warm, wonderful people. The rolling Tuscan landscape with grape vines, terraced olive groves and signature cypress trees outlined against the sky. Positano poised high on the Amalfi coast looking down at Homer’s wine dark sea. Donatello’s David with his sinuous, insouciant pose in the Bargello Museum in Florence. Looking at our scrapbooks brings back all our trips, especially the three times we rented villas and our children and friends came to visit and tour with us. When I see two couples laughing and lying on the weathered stones of the Campo in Siena , or our beautiful daughter standing in front of the pottery shop, I feel as if I’m there again.
Finally: The faces of our grandchildren. And the hugs. Jason. Jennifer. Simon. Evan and Eden. From the oldest to the youngest — their precious beings hold the promise of the future.
A very personal list to be sure that I have taken the liberty of sharing with you. Your lists will be just as individual and interesting. Why not compose yours now? And send it to me. You will find my e-mail it on my website, above. I would love to hear from you.