Finding Joy and Peace in a Dark Season

Here in the U.S. life is at a fever pitch. Covid-19 is still running amuck, particularly now in our mid-western and northern plains states, and the upcoming U.S. presidential election is making many of us sick with worry and even fear. (I think that’s true whatever your political bent.) So I’m purposefully trying to do things that will bring me (and others) a bit of joy and peace in this dark season.

One of them is gardening. I’ve been hankering to fill in some holes in our landscape and switch up some of our plants and a recent talk with my neighbor David (who’s a master gardener) motivated me to get started. Yesterday I went to the plant nursery and bought a dwarf meyer lemon tree (we’ve been longing to have our own lemons) and a pineapple guava bush. The lemon will replace a lackluster rose bush and the one-gallon guava will be a pot plant (for now). I’ve already transplanted it to a larger pot and set it in the shade to allow it to get settled before I move it to the sun. (The edible fruit from this are small and sweet.) Supposedly pineapple guavas are super easy to grow so I’m excited to see how this does.

I also got a few small perennials to liven up the pots on my stoop.

The white trailing petunias were already there and I added the mini red carnations and the deep purple angelonia. Not very fall-like color wise, but all easy to grow!

Small stuff, but it’s a start. There is something about being out in the sun and mucking about in the dirt that is so therapeutic and calming.

Another is reading, which is a life-long love and brings more joy than watching news or being on social media. (Can I hear an “amen” to that!) I tend to read several books at once and switch between them as my mood dictates. This past week I’ve read from:

  • “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch (life lessons shared by a professor with terminal cancer)
  • “Where is God When it Hurts” by Philip Yancey (a much-read book with underlines and highlights)
  • “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls” by David Sedaris (life stories/memoirs)
  • “Highland Fling” by Nancy Mitford (fiction that pokes fun at the English aristocracy of the 1920s/1930s)
The only book missing from this pile is my usual weekly mystery book!

Another joy-maker is the volunteer work I’ve undertaken during the pandemic collecting food and goods for a nearby community in need. It has helped me connect with so many wonderful people and gives me a sense of purpose and a bit of hope that we are making a tiny difference.

And of course one of the other things that brings me joy (and transports me out of this quagmire) is hunting for vintage stuff. Though I much prefer in-person sourcing, online will do in a pinch. I bought this large, heavy antique pin from an eBay seller. It’s .800 silver with coral cabochons and a C clasp. This is just fabulous. It likely hails from the Middle East and has a great Boho vibe.

Here’s another fun older piece–a hand-made appliquéd and embroidered Egyptian scene–possibly made during the Egyptian Revival of 1880-1920. According to this eBay seller it was part of a collection from a textile museum in Lowell, MA. I believe he was referring to the American Textile History Museum which closed its doors in 2016 and sold off its assets. The stiff beige fabric used for the background does have foxing, but otherwise it’s in quite good condition. I’m attracted to folk art pieces like this and I think others appreciate them too. This truly is a one-of-a-kind piece.

Approximately 19″ square.

I paid up for both these pieces and I need to do more research to figure out fair asking prices. Part of my research includes checking recent sales using WorthPoint and I found a similar (but smaller) pin recently sold for $300 (!) though most sell for under $100.

I did buy a few things recently from my neighborhood thrift store, but both need a bit of TLC and I am questioning my judgment on buying them as I tend to set these types of items aside…forever. Plus, will the end result be worth the effort??

Here’s one…a carved, hand painted wood loon decoy initialed “KD” on the bottom, but the bill appears to have been nibbled on by a kitten! (I know this because I had a plastic comb that had these same tiny bite marks from a kitten.) But still it was a neat piece.

Here’s my thought…I’ll get a little ebony wood putty and fill those in. But I have no idea how it will turn out and how much the damage decreases the value. And who is KD? This may be a total boondoggle. Sigh….

But to end on a positive note, the arborists have just completed some necessary tree trimming this morning and I feel like I can go full steam ahead with the yard plans this month.

Would love to hear how you destress and find joy in this season.

As always, happy hunting,


P.S. That’s me in the lead photo loving an afternoon in the mountains this past spring. Going out in nature is always a good thing!

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