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Rochester, NY, 14620

These Simple, Ordinary, Beautiful Days


These Simple, Ordinary, Beautiful Days

Andrea Burke

"This is definitely the month to clean up after winter. For soon we shall want to be outdoors all day long." — Gladys Taber

I love Gladys Taber. I don't know if you've ever had the pleasure of curling up with one of her books or articles on a lazy Saturday afternoon, but you ought to seek out an old copy of Stillmeadow Daybook or something of the like for your next library visit. When she manages to write about spring cleaning in such a way that I feel my heart pitter-patter at the thought of hanging blankets and curtains on a line to dry, or beating out rugs, airing out furniture and arranging the cellar jelly jars on lace doilies, I wonder if there's anything she could write about that I wouldn't want to experience in full.

March is upon us in her slow and steady way. Today I hoped to sleep in but at 7:35 a small knock came at our bedroom door and a tiny little voice exclaimed that she had been "awake since 7:12 am!" I can't begrudge her for making a big deal about 22 minutes. 22 minutes is an eternity to a child on any given morning, and also quite a good chunk of time for two parents who want to sleep just a bit longer under the heavy down comforter. 

I made pancakes and he scrambled eggs. Not a very momentous occasion outright, until maybe years go by and I'll reflect back and say "Remember the Saturdays when we had no place to be, no event to cart little people off to, no children off and out on their own, and we stood side by side at the stove, flipping pancakes and whisking eggs?"  Sometimes the most simple and practical moments become the ones that I consciously dog-ear in my mental storybook for later reference. Like the eggs and pancakes.

I have swept the kitchen and living room floors (mostly), have turned over a load or two of laundry, scrubbed down the bathroom, opened a window to feel the cool March breeze rush in like a thief on the hunt, and stacked all of the morning frying pans back into the cupboard. The man donned black winter work clothes and declared he was going to change the oil, but I see him now, more than an hour later, chipping away at the ice and slush patches that have accumulated on our driveway. He’s a hard worker and this I tell him and thank him for when he comes in through the door. I knew when I married him that I was marrying a man with a good work ethic, a man who finished what he starts and does so without grumble or complaint. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I know his ability to get things done keeps me on my toes. 

Billie Holiday croons from the little corner nook, the crackles of an old recording fit this regular little day. The little girl is running up and down the piles of snow. I can see her from the bathroom window singing up to the trees. Eventually she lays flat on her back and enters into whatever story it is she is living to the hilt. I consider calling out to her to see if she’s ok, but I know this will only break her reverie.

“Remember when she was little and just spent hours daydreaming and singing, and you worked on the cars and I listened to old jazz music and peeled the old couch pillow covers off to treat for stains and winter wear?” Dog-eared these little moments in my memory. 

I write all this to carve out a little space here online for this again. This simple gift of steady living. I told the man that I read in Psalms 37:3 — Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” 

I told him how that one sentence jumped out at me — dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. There is not a lot of glamour in that or “click-worthy” content. Just steady work, investment in people, opening doors to strangers, providing meals, saying yes when you’re tired and would rather say no, giving more of your heart, money, time and energy to the people who you sit next to at church, who deliver your mail, who you meet and know in the every day living of befriending faithfulness. 

Gladys Taber wrote: “Traveling is all very well if you can get home at night. I would be willing to go around the world if I came back in time to light the candles and set the table for supper.” I want the world. And I want adventure.

But I also want my home and the people who surround my table and stack their plates next to the sink.

Tomorrow night, we’ll put on another pot of sauce and invite friends and strangers to dinner. However many show up, I’ll put on my grandmother hat and beg them to eat more until they’re completely certain they’re full. It’s not necessary to have the best food or the finest china. We don’t always have greens represented on plates or cookies to finish out a meal. Sometimes it’s just bowl after bowl of noodles and sauce and the time and space for us to visit, listen, connect and give other people a place to find another home away from home for the evening. Dwelling in the land. Another spaghetti night, a dependable plan, befriending faithfulness.