Joy No. 46

As Leo and I jogged along the river this morning, I couldn’t help but smile.

Light green, gold and rust-colored leaves gave the illusion of a bright sunny day, despite partial cloud cover, and the water beside me was as still as an evening lake.

I could count the number of people I encountered on one hand, and the parks department employee running the minivan-size lawn mower politely turned it off and waved as we passed, restarting it once we were a safe distance from flying leaves.

The only word to describe my feeling was joy.

I’ve left this hometown of mine four times. First to go to Japan in high school. Then to go to college. Then to grad school … followed by Japan (here’s that story). Then grad school again.

That last leaving, to Washington state, kept me away nearly two decades, and this return feels decisive. Mainly because being here now seems so natural.

For the first time in nineteen years, autumn looks “normal” to me. The trees are the right color, the leaves are falling at the right time and the people behave in mostly (mostly) predictable ways. I am struck by how much my early years here programmed my expectations.

The other reason I smiled this morning — laughed out loud, actually — had to do with a sign I saw at a dog park we passed. The fence was about waist-high, and the sign indicated that area was only for small dogs — 17 inches or less at shoulders.

I looked at my friend next to the sign, which in the midst of my runner’s high appeared to be designed to measure the width of canine shoulders.

I tried to imagine a dog with shoulders so wide … and figured the sign had been intended to be mounted vertically.

I was still laughing about these wide-shouldered small dogs when I returned home, and that’s when my ever-practical husband pointed out that the horizontal line was probably exactly 17 inches off the ground.


So maybe I’m not 100 percent sympatico with my hometown’s ways, but being here sure makes me smile.


Writing this post reminded me of a blog I started back in 2011. I was going through a challenging time, so I set a goal to notice and share one thing that brought me joy each day. Thus “50 Joys” was born! Funny thing … I took it to 45 and abandoned it. Today I will add this moment as Joy No. 46.

It’s never too late for joy.


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