When I spy the first heart shaped leaves of a spring violet or I catch a glimpse of two lovers holding hands, oblivious to everything but each other, the corners of my mouth begin their ascent toward the apples of my cheeks. The way that sunshine hits my pillow in the morning, encasing my face in a halo of warmth, is enough to send me into a fit of giggling that can only be stopped when I finally throw back the covers and swing my feet onto the cold tile of my dorm room floor. Walking to class on Friday afternoons, showcasing my displeasure by crossing my arms and contorting my face into a scowl, I often hear the laughter of children on swing sets and am compelled by some unknown force to uncross my arms and transform my scowl into an expression of pleasantry. After eighteen long years of existence, I have come to believe that the simplest things in life are the most beautiful, and often the most meaningful.
My childhood was spent in and around an old farmhouse in Madison County, Ohio. With only my mother’s meager salary to support me and my older brother, vacations to Disney World were out of the question. Instead, my mother orchestrated afternoons of picnics in the back yard, complete with checkered blankets and thermoses of pink lemonade. She had a way of making everything fun. I never cared that I couldn’t spend my summer vacations on the amusement park rides or in the swimming pools of the splashy resorts that my peers frequented. I learned to appreciate July’s thunderstorms just so I could sit on the porch swing with my mom, listening to the rain pelt the gutters as she read me chapters from Little House on the Prairie. Sweet pea blossoms in Mason jars seemed perfect to me, and naps under an old willow were my favorite pastimes.
In many ways I am fortunate that I didn’t spend my girlhood summers spinning in a tea cup at Disney World. Picnics with lemonade and crust-less peanut butter sandwiches always seemed more appetizing than the cotton candy and stale pretzels that my classmates complained about on the first day back to school. I knew that I didn’t need vast amounts of money to be happy. Simply spending a rainy night on the porch swing or a spring day looking for violets was enough. Every time that I find myself scowling about the prospect of sitting in an afternoon class or catch myself wishing that I had a couple extra Ben Franklins to buy a pair stilettos, I remember the joy of giggling at morning sunshine and step back to appreciate life’s simplest pleasures.