The latest in my series of “Little Things.”
1. I’m going to start this list with a big little thing (both physically and metaphorically) … WHALES!
The most success I’ve had seeing whales was two years ago off the coast of Mendocino, and since then I’ve tried multiple times in various places but to no avail. (I think back to a few months ago when Maïté, Thomas, and I drove to Pacifica and sat staring out at the ocean until the sun’s reflection off the water made our eyes burn but we didn’t see a single whale. It was especially disheartening to hear a few locals say they’d seen some in the same spot less than an hour before.)
Anyway. I woke up last Sunday after an incredibly busy week at work craving the calm and salt-water-scent of the ocean. It was a foggy morning and early enough that no one was out on the road yet, and something about being alone in the quiet and mist, taking deep breaths and moving my body in the chilly air, made my heart full. I biked the 12 miles from our apartment to Pacifica, following the coast the whole way, until I reached the Esplanade where I almost always stop to look out at the ocean.
I had been stopped less than a minute when I saw it: a low blow, a quick spurt of water three or four meters above the water’s surface. I told myself not to get too excited; there had been plenty of times I thought I’d seen a blow that turned out to be nothing more than the current crashing up against a rock. But then – another! And a dark shape breaching the surface of the water! All along the coast, every few minutes, another dark shape just made visible and a momentary burst of water coming from its spout.
I know that, logically, it was not an anomaly to see whales that morning. Pacifica is one of the best spots nearby to catch glimpses of both gray whales and humpbacks, and it is prime migrating season. But, I don’t know … it still felt like a miracle.
2. This Mary Oliver poem I read last week. It felt so timely given I had recently posted this rambling and am also amidst a period of bad anxiety.
“The glimmer of gold Böhme saw on the kitchen pot / was missed by everyone else in the house.” Yes, I thought. Those small miracles. Always feeling like my brain is full of too many thoughts and wishing I could just TURN IT OFF FOR A MINUTE but then, also, perceiving those tiny moments of beauty…
3. I finished reading Meg Mason’s “Sorrow and Bliss” and would recommend, especially for those of us who struggle with our mental health. It was also hilariously funny. It’s the sort of book I would write if I ever wrote a book because, as Thomas says, it’s in the genre of books “with boring plots about boring people.” I believe he’s also phrased it as “books where nothing happens.” I beg to differ. (If anyone is interested in an impromptu book club please message me. I am always eager to chat books.)
And speaking of books – I came across this incredible one at a Little Free Library a few blocks from our apartment:
Yes, this book was published in 1986, and yes, I know I am going to receive some ~backlash~, but I firmly believe that the microwave is an underrated appliance. I know we’ve all moved on to air fryers and instant pots and whatnot … but there are some of us who are still proud to be steaming our vegetables in the microwave.
And I’d like to give a shout-out to the likeminded “Erwin B.” who shared an Amazon review of the book: “It is all in this book, and it is the best darn cookbook in my home. Copyright 1986, but as good today as anytime before.” Couldn’t have said it better myself, Erwin.
4. I met Allyson Felix last week. I tried to keep cool. She could not have been more gracious and inspiring. I asked her if there was one thing she wants her daughter to know and she said, “I want my daughter to know she shouldn’t let others put her in a box. That she should be able to do whatever she wants without limitations, especially because she’s black or a woman.” I told her how inspiring it has been for me to watch her journey since retiring from track and field, and to watch her own how she defines herself outside of being an athlete (as a mother, as an entrepreneur, as a spokesperson for diversity, equality, and inclusion in sports and beyond).
And … I guess that’s all for this week.