Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Season of Gratitude


Warning: This may be a little mushy.


A friend of mine, musician Chris Foster started a Facebook group called “Seasons of Gratitude.” He describes the focus of the group as follows:


“Christmas has started to overrun the Thanksgiving holiday and now is even threatening Halloween. I want to reclaim November as the Season of Gratitude to encourage all to be grateful for the great things in life. Let’s allow November to be a month we focus on giving thanks and gratitude for all that we’re given in life.”

Most of us reflect on what's wonderful in our life on Thanksgiving Day, but I like the idea of stretching it into a whole season. And, with the weather sliding into full fall (as I write, we’re at the tail end of peak foliage season) and things quieting down, I feel like I actually have some time to reflect and appreciate all that I have.

I am so grateful to love what I do for a living. One of the quotes set out on our breakfast table, by H. Jackson Browne, the author of “Life’s Little Instruction Book,” says Find something you love to do and add five days to your work week. I am grateful that we can make a living “having company” -- something that was a rare treat for me, growing up in California, half a continent away from most of our relatives.

I feel blessed by our wonderful guests, many of whom come back time and again and have become friends.

I am grateful to live in this beautiful area. I appreciate the beautiful beaches and the climate that makes it such a draw in summer…and I appreciate the quietude and peace of the offseason, when I can spend time creating, whether it be food in the kitchen or characters in a book.

Most importantly, I'm really, really blessed to have Chris in my life, and that we make such a good team, at home and at work.

Okay, enough mush.
It rained this past weekend, two days in a row. We had some Australian guests from the Sydney area staying with us who have never seen the change of seasons. Rain is not the optimal weather in which to explore the villages, but a great time to explore the wineries and do some wine tasting, which they did. I tried to make up for the drizzle outside by ensuring that when they came “home,” it was especially cozy and warm. A rainy day in late autumn is a perfect time to begin the holiday baking…lots of cookies with cinnamon and pumpkin and cranberries and other things that made wonderful holiday-like aromas. The fire was crackling all day, and tea was on, and when they returned from their explorations, I had them sample the results of my baking. (As if Chris hadn't already volunteered.)

Another nice thing about the quieter season is being able to go out to dinner more. Those five-star, $$$$ restaurants that you can't get a reservation at in season? Now you can not only get a table, you can get a prix fixe three-course menu.  We had a wonderful dinner last week at Della Femina, and at Stone Creek Inn the week before. Tonight, I'm taking a cooking class at Muse Restaurant on alternatives to the traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. Chef Matt is such fun and so talented, I look forward to a great time and some wonderful ideas!

The past few days have been incredibly beautiful -- I took the picture above on my walk early this morning at Gin Lane Beach. The early morning sky and the light on the waves was incredible. Not a soul on the sand for probably a mile in either direction.

Life is good...and I'm especially grateful for that.

Quote of the Day:  Happiness is the result of making a bouquet of those flowers within reach. --Proverb