Retail madness reaches its zenith not in the days just before Christmas, but in the days just after. This is when our cultural inability to delay gratification is most apparent: It might be the thought that counts, but it’s the present that gets returned — now — and you would think gift cards for my outdoor store expire on New Year’s Day, given the rush to use them.
Suffice it to say that my job is now crazy, and that winter, too, is re-asserting itself: When we close the store at night, we are cast from the cacophony of consumerism into the bite of night as we trudge to cold cars before we arrive, eventually, at the solace of home.
Praise be, then, to shelter, and to warmth: the furnace kicking on, the dance and crackle of a wood fire, the coziness of a heated mattress pad or a down comforter. Thanks be to the company of our loved ones, and especially, for me, the animals. Gratitude overflowing for the little luxuries that privilege our days: the nearby food, an evening’s frosty beer, the next morning’s redolent coffee, cupped in fingers barely unfurled from sleep. How comforting the small sounds of a quiet home, glittering, each in their turn, on a backdrop of silence.
Here are a few of my favorites; each audio clip goes with an image in the gallery below. Click on photos to enlarge.