The Comfort of Small Things

DSC00198Chickadees throw back their heads to praise the dawn. Bring us morning. Bring the light. They bring me faith in exchange for seeds.

Mexican music blasts over the driving range loudspeakers. A tiny brown and white pup nibbles my pudgy five-year-old fingers. Hello, new best friend Amigo.

With Grandpa

With Grandpa




The sky is yellow green. Wind quivers. Dark clouds in the distance. Tornados nearby. Grandpa holds my little hand and squeezes. I’ll be OK.

img062I see Vic first. He scans the crowd. Our eyes meet. He grins. He waves and flicks his chin to push back tears. I weep, too.

I push and groan. My body splits in two. He’s on my belly. Quiet breath. Then he’s in my arms. I’m a mother.

DSC00459She snores next to my bed. Then yelps in her hunting dream.  She’s wounded but healing. She’ll leap across the stream by spring.

Hauling frozen firewood from the porch. Zero degrees. Rabid wind. Shoulders tight against the cold. Load the stove. Orange flames flare.





When heartache is too much to bear, I take my grief for a walk and visit the cairn under the red oak tree. We buried Vic’s ashes there.

Vic and I embrace in the kitchen. I must remember this, I think. I know what it’s like to be without these hugs. Then I wake up.

Another cold night. Dark and lonely. Then out the west window, Venus, Mars, and the Moon smile hello.










March 7. Vic’s birthday. I miss him still. We met as kids and dared to love. No small thing.

The wood stove glows amber at midnight. Bitter outside. Hot hearthstone and dry maple inside. Grateful to be alive.


What small things bring you comfort? I’d love to have you add to my short list. For other posts about gratitude, see Give Thanks for This Imperfect Life or A Woman’s Hands.


  1. I just loved this piece Elaine. Scattered memories, yet held within one heart. <3

  2. Your words exude the rhythms of haiku. What would I add to list of the comfort of small things? Light pushing through the windows earlier each day . . . sun pennies.

    • I love that, Marian. Sunny pennies are so small and full of celebration. I think of the small rainbow reflections when sunlight streams through crystals.

  3. Thank you Elaine for the reminder of the comfort of small things. Last night I looked up at the sky – the moon, nearly full, had a radiance about it in among the clouds – somehow this was comforting to me. As our thoughts of my precious sons.

  4. I’m always touched by your writing when I have time to read them and I really love this one!
    So much more……

    • Hi Manuela. I hope you’re still in warmer climes. Thanks for your encouraging comment. A little post with little stories. Often I look at photos first and let them lead me to the stories.

  5. There’s something extremely profound about walking in grief. I’m slowly learning that. Beautiful words, as always, Elaine.

    Still carrying the Rilke around with me – probably will for a while yet.

    Take care – I’ll be thinking of you in the days to come,


    • Casey, congratulations on getting a piece published and on the writing class you’re taking. No wonder you’re learning about the profound possibilities of walking in grief. I always remember ‘The Teachings of Don Juan’ in a book by Carlos Castenada (1968) that we should move through life with Death on our shoulder and consult with our Death. I try to do that when I get bent out of shape about things that don’t matter in the long run.
      Thanks for thinking of me as I visit my brother. After a few emergencies, he’s getting some symptoms under control and he’s not in the hospital. I’m turning my mind to memories of him from childhood. I hope some will get written this weekend.
      Warmly, Elaine

  6. I love this, Elaine, just love it.

  7. Stunning, Elaine. Simply stunning. I can’t even begin to think of all the small things that bring me comfort because your beautifully illustrated list, almost a poem, has completely blown me away. Cheers!

    • Thank you, Robin. Let’s see. You’ll take comfort in delicious food, good wine, a curly dog, any signs of spring… Wishing us all signs of spring. No signs today.

  8. Elaine, These beautiful memories of yours bring tears as I sit under Berkeley blue skies, thinking of where I’ve been and how I got here. We are fragile and yet surprisingly resilient and strong, able to shoulder what we must in whatever way we can. I don’t know if you saw the meme I posted on FB today (posted before I read your blog): “The art of being happy lies in the power of extricating happiness from common things.” This morning on the road, I saw a bumper sticker that read: “Suffer now while you can.” I understand the philosophy behind the words: that is is a privilege being here at all. But, I have always been of the mind that there are so many simple pleasures in which to find joy amidst all the pathos and real suffering that we each experience. Much love, Jenna

    • I love the meme, Jenna, and did not see it. I’ll look. The bumper sticker gave me a good laugh. Suffering is a privilege of those who are alive, a normal part of the experience along with the simple pleasures. It’s a good spiritual and psychological exercise to watch for them. Sending love back your way.

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