The Comfort of Small Things

DSC00198When life is unsure and frightening, I look for the comfort of small things.

~ Chickadees and juncos throw back their heads to praise the dawn. They announce the joy of morning light and bring me hope in exchange for seeds.

~ In memory, Mariachi 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


~ The sky is yellow-green. I shiver and watch those dark clouds in the distance. There are tornadoes nearby. Grandpa holds my little hand in his warm  fingers. I’ll be OK.

img062~ In an airport, after he’s been away a month, I see Vic first. He scans the crowd. Our eyes meet. He grins, waves, and wipes his cheek to push back tears. I weep, too.

~ In 1970, I push and groan. My body splits in two, but then a baby lies on my belly. Gentle breath. He’s in my arms, and I’m a mother.

DSC00459~My young dog Willow snores next to my bed. She yelps in her hunting dream.  She had knee surgery in 2010 when she was under a year old, but she’s healing. By spring, she’ll leap across the stream again.

~ I haul frozen firewood from the porch. It’s zero degrees with a rabid, biting wind. My shoulders tighten against the cold. I load the stove and orange flames flare. All will be well.



~ In 2008, after Vic’s death, when heartache is too much to bear , I take my grief for a walk each day to visit Vic’s cairn under the red oak tree. I walked there less in recent years, but during this COVID-19 quarantine, I walk to Vic’s cairn with my dogs every day and give thanks for the life we shared.

~ Vic and I embrace in the kitchen. I surrender into his warm body. And then I wake up. By 2009, I know what it’s like to live without these hugs.

~ Another cold winter night in 2015. Dark and lonely like other winters before and after. Then out the west window, Venus, Mars, and the Moon smile hello.










~ On March 7. 2020, it’s Vic’s birthday. I miss him every day. We met as kids and dared to love. That’s no small thing.

~ The wood fire glows amber in late March 2020. Old Willow sleeps on her warm bed and my young pup Disco rests with her head on my lap. The soup I made for dinner perfumes the house. I made enough to leave a jar on my son’s porch a few miles away. We’re staying home until this crisis passes, but there is comfort in the small promises of spring.


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.

  9. How lovely to re-read this Eline, five years later ..and the comments. The last one from Jenna and the bumper sticker she saw -‘suffer while you can’ brought a wry smile to me. Likewise your comment about Carlos Casteneda and keeping Death alive on one’s left shoulder at all times is also a lovely reminder of not knowing for whom nor when the bell tolls, if not for thee .. Sorry if the quote is far-off the original.

    Your post is also timely – to remember the small, as vital as the large. This time of crisis is very real and we do not know what is ahead. We can be guided by good sound advice from the specialists and practising social distance and all those things. We can be guided by our hearts and minds, more so at this time. We can be guided in the knowing of what it is that brings us small comforts at this time and/or we can ask again what it is that brings us small comforts.

    The last time I commented in March 2015 I said about the moon and its radiance and that brought me comfort. Today, I’m on my balcony overlooking the sea, it is a beautiful day, blue sea and sky, a light breeze …

    Knowing that there is connection because of technology is a great comfort.

    It was lovely to re-read your post Elaine, thank you.

    • Thank you, Susan. I look for old blogs to re-post every other week and thought this would work with lots of editing. I lean heavily on the small comforts and amusements of home. My puppy Disco is now sound asleep after expending her wild energy tearing the stuffing out of a toy bunny that stayed intact the last 5 months. We all need something to tear up or dig up or chase. When I get anxious about what’s happening, both dogs watch me carefully. They obviously feel the tension of this time.

      The Moon-Venus-Jupiter conjunction was spectacular in 2015. The sky has been mostly gray and flat here the last few days, so no beautiful sunsets for good cheer. I planted a few acorns and they’re sprouting next to a window. Joy is needed where we can find it. I even–finally–went through some of my mother-in-law’s stuff and sent a pile of it away since today was garbage collection day. That’s still happening once a month. I agree the technology is a comfort, but I feel for all the younger ones who are stuck in isolation and having a harder time accepting the mess of the world. Their future and their jobs are at stake. My future is at stake, too, but I have a shorter timeline than they do. May all be well for you, for me, and for the world.

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