…You just have to watch out for the pits.”
That was one of my grandpa’s favourite sayings and one of his best pieces of advice.
To me, it’s a reminder to savour the sweetness of life and not let the bad times deter you from appreciating the rest. Discard the pits and grab another juicy cherry. Carry on. It was part of my inspiration when I came up with the theme for Little Observationist – the love of the little things.
Year after year at Christmas, he’d give me a box of chocolate-covered cherries to go with his quote and grin as I opened it. My grandma continues the same tradition to this day when I’m in New York for the holidays.
His death – 10 years ago today – was one of the hardest pits I’ve encountered over the years and one I’ve never managed to toss aside. We were very close and memories of him are often on my mind to this day. I was away at university the day when he died. He waited until I was able to make it to the hospital to take his last breath.
Life has changed immeasurably since then, but I still try to remember to be grateful for the little things and I still recall the cherry saying when things are less than ideal.
Here are 76 (the age he was when he died) of life’s simple pleasures (not including specific moments or memories with specific people…):
1. The scent of fresh vine tomatoes and the earth after a rain storm.
2. My English breakfast tea from Paul to start every morning.
3. A walk along the River Thames. A walk along the Niagara River. Both at sunset, and with good company.
4. Landing in Buffalo airport, seeing the North Tonawanda carrousel horses and the familiar feeling of home.
5. Exploring a new city with my camera for the first time.
6. A Saturday with nothing ahead but hours to fill however I want to fill them.
7. Bonfires and s’mores.
8. Piles of crunchy leaves along the sidewalks (New England Autumns, especially).
9. A handwritten letter sent by post. Even better when it includes photos or cat jokes clipped from a newspaper.
10. The nostalgic scent of sawdust.
11. Seeing people I love succeed at whatever it is they set out to do.
12. Long emails with stories of home.
13. Rays of sunlight cutting through the clouds or the branches of summer trees.
14. Goldfish crackers.
15. A smile or some form of positive interaction with a stranger.
16. Looking out to the sea, sand between toes, salt in the air.
17. Oversized towels after a hot bath.
18. Being deep in the middle of a book I can’t put down.
19. Meeting new people who are inspiring and creative.
20. Markets of all sorts: for the people watching, the piles of fresh fruits and veggies, the tiny treasures.
21. The smell of a secondhand bookshop.
22. Making something from nothing, whether it’s my mini photo notecards, colouring, baking or gardening.
23. Walking by plants that leave a trails of scent: jasmine, rosemary, mint, lavender, roses…
24. Colourful street art covered walls.
25. The exhilarating rush (and hot shower) after a long run.
26. Street style and people watching.
27. The first snow of the season and fresh white snow covered branches any day.
28. Holiday prep: Carving pumpkins, decorating Christmas cookies, dyeing Easter eggs.
29. The first blank page of a new notebook.
30. An hour or two reading in St. Luke’s Garden in Chelsea.
31. A house (and desk) full of plants.
32. A nostalgic playlist.
33. Homemade chocolate chip banana bread, still warm.
34. Being surrounded by shelves full of books.
35. Seeing stars at night; even better, in the middle of nowhere, the Milky Way.
36. Pretty cards and wrapping paper.
37. Rain dripping on window panes.
39. Walks in the woods and the refreshing scent of nature.
41. Travel magazines and books with a strong sense of place.
42. Sweater season.
43. Writing with my favourite Tiffany pen.
44. Uncontrollable laughter.
45. Marking recipes to try in a new cookbook.
46. Watching thunderstorms from somewhere dry.
48. Early morning light and fog over London.
49. Waking up to a print sale on Etsy.
50. A light breeze on a hot summer’s day.
51. Looking at images by incredible portrait photographers like Steve McCurry, Eric Lafforgue, Lisa Kristine, David Lazar & Rehahn.
52. Hearing stories of adventure and travel.
53. Walking under a tunnel of trees bursting with cherry blossoms in the spring.
54. Hopping on rocks across a stream.
55. Chilly winter nights in with board games (and fireplaces).
56. Having a new project to work on.
57. Warm clothes fresh out of the dryer.
58. A bus or train or elevator arriving at exactly the same time as me.
59. Salt beef bagels on Brick Lane.
60. A day off in the middle of the week.
61. City lights reflected in puddles and rainy streets at night.
62. Connecting with new people through Little Observationist and social media.
63. Stumbling on a quirky new shop, cafe or restaurant.
64. Biting into a ripe and juicy slice of watermelon.
66. Learning a new skill.
67. Fields full of wildflowers.
68. Catching up with all of my favourite bloggers.
69. Sitting on my parents’ front porch.
70. Making the first footprints on crunchy frost-coated grass or fresh snow on early winter mornings.
71. Reconnecting with old friends like no time has passed at all.
72. Discovering a song I want to play over and over again.
73. A cashmere jumper.
74. Listening to hundreds of different languages that are spoken in this multicultural city.
75. Finding the perfect gift for someone.
76. The feeling of being in the moment.
What are some of yours?