One of the things I treasure about New England is the invitation to live a “carpe diem” life. If you like the weather out there, seize the day, for it might be gone a few hours later.
It’s been very cold across the upper reaches of the Midwest and East recently and many people have been struggling. Getting to work is an ordeal, from scraping snow and ice off the windshield to braving frozen highways and avoiding black ice.
The other morning temperatures were predicted to drop into the single digits with a wind chill well below zero. The previous day I had driven by a lake I had never noticed before and the ice looked thick enough to skate on. If I didn’t go that morning it would get too cold to go at all, and we were expecting more snow by nightfall. “Seize the day!” I thought. This was the moment for a spontaneous ice-skating adventure.
My husband doesn’t love ice-skating the way I do but he saw the sparkle of excitement in my eyes and agreed to drop everything and join me before our late-morning meetings at the office. The willingness to be spontaneous is one reason we are still together after 34 years. We drank our tea and coffee, and ate my granola with alacrity. Time was of the essence. I knew where the lake was, but I didn’t know if it had an access road. We thanked our GPS and drove off with our skates, mittens, hats and hand-warmers. The temperature was 15ºF when we parked on the far side of the lake, and there was little wind.
No one else was there. Paul wondered aloud if the ice was thick enough. At first sight its dense appearance made me think that it was, but I checked to be sure. Five inches of virgin ice lay across the lake as far as the eye could see. We laced up and glided away between light patches of snow still clinging to the ice. After taking the picture below, I saw the shape of a heart in snow. Something bigger than either Paul or me had welcomed our presence, even for the hour-long experience before heading to work. We returned with wide grins on our faces. And my work felt easy with joy in my heart.
When was the last time you dropped everything for the sake of Joy?
Amazing! Loved this!
I try to instill this very thing in my children every day! Life is way too short not to.
At first glance I thought you were on Little Long Pond. The ice is perfect here now.
Wishing you many more exciting adventures…on the spur of the moment!
Thanks Cherie. Say hello to Little Long Pond for me when you get there! Happy skating!
I can almost hear you singing along with Sinatra – “I’ve got the world on a string, sitting on a rainbow . . ” as you glided, seemingly without a care, on a frozen lake that you and Paul had claimed as your own. It must have been heaven, and will remembered forever — as those special moments always are.
I too almost always jump at those moments, believing – knowing perhaps – that I never ever want regrets in life. A beautiful framed saying, resting on my desk will remind me: LIVE TODAY WITH PASSION. Eileen, I think you know that I do. . but once again, after a journey in late December that will be always remembered for its beauty, its new experiences, and the glorious people that we met — well, we lounged once again in our warm house last evening — breaking out the champagne and toasting to the new forever memories (with smiles, with laughing, with JOY — yes, with joy!)
The photos you left us with were also the “forever” ones — for it may have been very cold outside, but you two were gliding not only on top of the ice, but – for those moments – on top of the world.
And here’s a toast to your joy, Joan! You seem very deft in finding it. A beautiful quality to treasure, both in yourself, and by those who are lucky enough to know you.
Eileen—I really love today’s message! I am right now dropping everything to go for a long walk in the beautiful sunshine and give my friend’s dog (who is calling me right now) her favorite treat!! I am now aware that seizing the day–the moment–is living fully! Thanks and big hug to you and Paul, Louise
Lucky dog! to have a walk with you would be pure joy, Louise! Thanks for writing, as always. And someday I hope to hear you play the cello! Love, Eileen
Just loved this – got to be adept at ice discernment, for sure, which I have no talent at! But the spontaneity, OMG, yes indeed. No way other to live life than in this moment. Wishing you and Paul more winter frolics and carpe diem delights! xxxx Jacqui
Can’t wait to have some with you too, Jacqui when we see you in the Bay Area. love, Eileen
Hi Eileen, great article and inspiring photos… I, too, awoke to a beautiful day and was inspired to take a photo early in the morning of the moon against the brightest blue of skies. I posted the photo on my FB page for all to see. After a breakfast of “your” granola recipe with my doctering up, coffee, Syrian toast and Labaneh, I took a shot at ordering a birthday cake for my son’s birthday from Amelie’s Bakery in Charlotte.(psst….I was told Pres. Obama places a monthly order for salted caramel brownies at Amelie’s !) Then, I wrote a poem intended to address your “dropped” question.
Oh, joe, I drop my cares and keys,
Always a breeze, never a sneeze,
Where summer turns around the bend.
My thoughts and muster push me to the end
of the road,
There, my being splashes with gentle aplomb,
As I splash, again, in the sea of happenstance–
Beautiful Elaine! I suspect you make a gentle splash wherever you go. Welcome home! I’d love to see your photo but how do I see your Facebook?
Beautiful blog to welcome the New Year. Love the heart-shaped mound of snow, as if to say, “Gather ye ice skates while ye may!” I couldn’t agree more with the saying, “Carpe Diem or, Seize the Day!” So often folks take it for granted that they, or someone they love (pets included), will be there tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Yet, life is ever dynamic.
A Hebrew saying comes to mind—The phrase: ?ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי “And if not now, then when?” (Pirkei Avoth 1:14). Many of us procrastinate writing that thank you note or expressing heartfelt appreciation to folks for being there for us, calling, staying in touch, recommending a book or film or a myriad of other considerations. Gratitude for each and every moment we’re alive makes the miracle of life even more precious. Spontaneity and outings that bring joy, even for a little while, are wonderful ways to break up routines of the day and bow to the sacredness of every moment.
So, grab your skates, cuddle a kitty, pat a pony, warm your bare feet by the fire, savor a cuppa Peppermint Tea with honey, take a bubble bath, color with glitter sticks, make a collage with feathers, daydream, and sing and dance to the rhythm of your heart!
Dear Phyll, I’m saving your list for next time I run out of ideas! Great suggestions. Thank you! xo
Eileen and Paul, tsk tsk… You should NOT venture to untested unknown ice ponds, again. Exuberance and Enthusiasm ( you and me ) are too taken by Ms. Spontaneity and Ms. Impetuous!!
Perhaps, you should have glided around the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center with Paul.
Never ever throw caution to Ms. Wind !!!! Elaine
“When was the last time you dropped everything for the sake of Joy?”
You ask a very worthwhile question. The ideal answer: “sometime in the last 24 hours.”
To be honest, I don’t “en-Joy” nearly enough. Along with simply and promiscuously wasting time, I let lots of unimportant things eat up much of my time. I THINK that I’m doing what I must–and somethings we all must do. But the new result is that I’ve been squandering my fortune in time. (You can’t buy back time.)
Not to sound too self-critical and morose, I do find joy in being with my sons, in reading and writing and listening to music, and in remembering moments of joy–often having to do with deep snow, open water (think skis and sails), most kinds of natural light, and certain landscapes, certain places, and certain buildings. And, of course, certain people. These days, I also try to devote a couple of days a month to wandering around New York City with my camera. No meetings and no itinerary. Just sunlight and serendipity.
I’d like to share with you this great passage from “The Ambassadors” by Henry James:
“Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t so much matter what you do in particular so long as you have your life. If you haven’t had that what have you had? … I haven’t done so enough before—and now I’m too old; too old at any rate for what I see. … What one loses one loses; make no mistake about that. … Still, we have the illusion of freedom; therefore don’t be, like me, without the memory of that illusion. I was either, at the right time, too stupid or too intelligent to have it; I don’t quite know which. Of course at present I’m a case of reaction against the mistake. … Do what you like so long as you don’t make my mistake. For it was a mistake. Live!”
“Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to.” That’s some of the best advice I’ve ever heard.
All good wishes, Richard
Love this quote from Henry James. (And agree!) Thank you so much for sharing it with us, Richard! Really liked your idea about taking your camera and wandering around New York City—sounds wonderful!
Thanks so much, Phyll. Henry James was often very wise. And wandering in the city with a camera is great fun. Of course, a lot depends on weather, light, and luck! All best, Richard
Thanks for your reply and compliment. I do appreciate your thoughts. To answer your question about my FB page, enter my name on FB. Je suis Elaine Naddaff on FB.
Elaine, on second thought you can post your photo to my Eileen Rockefeller Facebook Page, or if it’s more private, you could email it to me at [email protected]
Forgive me! I write too much. (But writing is a joy for me… well, when it isn’t hard work!)
Just want to report from the “carpe diem front” that my wife and I have decided to blow off a couple of meetings, several “shoulds,” and jump in a car. We’re going to drive the 330 miles (round-trip) from Princeton, New Jersey to Lakeville, Connecticut to surprise our younger son Win, who’s in high school there. We miss him… and the sun is finally out.
Speaking of carpe diem, do you know this poem—rather sad but very true— by Kathleen Raine? (Sorry, I don’t have the line breaks after each verse.)
“Never, never again This moment, never, those slow ripples across smooth water, Never again these clouds white and gray…. The sun that rose from the sea this morning will never return for the broadcast light that brightens the leaves and glances on water will travel tonight on its long journey, out of the universe, never this sun, this world, and never again this watcher.” Kathleen Raine
Seize the day. Seize the moment…. Off to southern New England!—Richard
Dear Richard, I just now so your post. I hope you had a wonderful time with your son. And thanks for sharing the great poem by Kathleen Raine. On to the next great moment!
Seize the day” oh yes!!! And the great heart on the ice in your photo makes me think , in that spirit, of seizing the hearts of those you love with loving thoughts. So I Love You dearest Eileen!
Ox your cousin Mary
Dear Mary, How nice to find your comment here! I wish you’d been there with me! Love to you, Eileen