It wasn't the summer for gardens this year. Oh, we got some good tomatoes and a few beans, but everything else just withered. Not having a green thumb, I don't know if it was too much rain, not enough rain, wrong temps, lack of sun, too much sun, not enough good dirt, or some or all of the above. Whatever the reason, we were disappointed in our attempt to grow some of our own food this summer.
The sunflowers, though, came right on cue, thank goodness. Sunflowers just make me smile. Their colors are so vivid and bright, they stand so erect, even under their own heavy weight, and they grow as if they just want to be noticed. "Hey - Here I am!"
Sunflowers make me smile. I need to smile these days. Every time I turn on the news and hear the dire reports about the failing economy, natural disasters, and the lies being told in the presidential election, I either get mad or depressed. We certainly need more smiles in the world.
I laugh a lot, too. I laugh at corny Readers' Digest jokes. I laugh at my son imitating a horse (or memories of that!), or hearing him tell a story of going to the wrong airport in Chicago. I laugh at Baby Blues and Pearls Before Swine comic strips. I laugh when I talk to my cousins in Arkansas. I laugh when Rachel calls to tell me something funny the grandkids have said, or tells me of her "senior moments" at age 30. I laugh when my son-in-law Chris tells one of his hilarious stories. I laugh at daughter-in-law Sarah's expression when Ed does something stupid or inexplicable. I laugh with my sister; the kids always say that they love to be there when Joy and I get togther, as we laugh all the time. I laugh at "headlines" in the tabloids ("Abraham Lincoln was really a WOMAN!" - this with a doctored picture of Abe in a wig and bonnet, with a promise of "Bonus picture inside!" which I mistakenly read as "Bogus picture inside!"). I laugh at caricatures of chickens. Laughing is great for the abs, great for the heart, great for the spirit.
But some days are devoid of the hearty laugh, and that's OK. I compensate with things that make me smile. Memories of the kids when they were growing up. (Memories are dependable smile generators.) A tasty homemade meal made by Ed, bursting with flavor, or a crisp York apple straight from Virginia. A finished quilt. Talking to a friend on the phone. Working with beautiful fabric. My CMT certificate. Seeing a photograph of my dad. Going through my "past" box. Autumn with its brisk air, pumpkins, and football games. High-speed Internet. The pleasures of transcribing a clear dictator. Memories of getting on those airplanes last month and surprising my mom. Thinking of a birthday present my friend Sally sent me, wrapped and waiting for the 27th, and apparently another surprise on the way from my friend Audrey.
And, of course, those sunflowers.
I hope you have many, many smiles today!