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China tea, the scent of hyacinths, wood fires and bowls of violets—that is my mental picture of an agreeable February afternoon. — Constance Spry

Here we are at the beginning of a new month. In January I survived yet another birthday. A lady doesn’t reveal her age, so I won’t, but in the meantime, I’ve decided that the best gift I can give myself is gratitude.

Charles Dickens would have been 209 years old on February 7th

New Mexico has a governor who is applying strict measures for stopping the pandemic’s toll. She’s working hard to insure that those who want the Covid-19 vaccine can get it. I was lucky enough to receive my first injection; in six days I’ll receive the second. This non-opening of businesses is hard. It means no eating out (except for frigid picnics), no going to movies or musical events, and missing all the festivals, markets and celebrations that make Santa Fe  the unique town that it is. To celebrate my birthday, friends and I went not to lunch but to the forest for snowshoeing.

In addition to being grateful for daily doses of outdoors, I’m thankful for books. The new order of things has allowed us bibliophiles more time to read. I belong to an excellent book club.The members are adventurous in their literary choices, and it’s been fun reading books that, on my own, I might never have discovered. I’m a lifetime fan of Victorian literature, especially Charles Dickens. When it was my turn to select, I proposed A Tale of Two Cities. To my relief, everyone seemed to love reading (or in most cases re-reading) the dramatic story of Charles Darnay, Lucie Manette and her father the doctor, Jerry Cruncher, Miss Pross and Jarvis Lorry.. The backdrop of the French Revolution and scheming Madame Defarge, the storming of the Bastille, and Sydney Carton’s heroic sacrifice…all of it was reviewed in our two-hour online get-together. The discussion was lively, rewarding and affable. Several of us, in addition to the next book club selection, are going to be reading more Dickens on our own.
These are troubling times, but there is much for which to be thankful. That said, I’ve adopted a new role: curator of my own contentment.


Tune in to Elaine’s blog posts on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption, the outdoors and the writing life. Her third novel, The Hand of Ganesh is headed toward publication in late 2021.

Snowshoeing is a great way to celebrate Winter.