… But Sometimes, I Am: Five Underrated Things

blue soapbox  I don’t want to be known only as that cranky person who spends her writing life finding fault.  So here are a few things I think we don’t celebrate enough.
The autumn.   Truly underrated; the best time of year by far.  There’s something about the angle of the sun that makes the ordinary look magical.  And the shortening, too-hot days, punctuated by crisp evenings, inspire a delightful sense of urgency.  No need to make a special trip to the east coast to view the foliage, either.  Take Wildwood from Grand Avenue up toward Wildwood Elementary: each day, a slightly different combination of colors in the Chinese pistache trees.  In a few weeks, pause after that first block of Wildwood to look up Nova, to the left, at that huge liquidambar and all the ones behind it.  Astonishing, week after week.

Roasted peanuts.  I have four criteria for perfect food–yummy, nutritious, inexpensive and quick.  How many edibles meet all four?  I buy those snack-sized packages of Planter’s and stash them in the trunk of my car.  I can’t tell you the number of times they’ve come in handy because I forgot lunch or need something to give to a homeless person.

The postal service.  That letters are still arriving in my box six days a week seems somehow shocking in this day and age.  U.S. mail remains reliable, and a bargain despite rate hikes.  There are some things you just can’t do over the phone or via e-mail, like sending a pair of earrings to your mother-in-law in Detroit and knowing the package will get there, undamaged and untampered-with, in two days.  Incredibly civilized.

Cotton clothing with a little spandex in it.  Just a few percent of the stretchy stuff in a mostly cotton garment makes it uniquely comfy. I know, I know, spandex is pure petroleum.  You could probably wad it up and put it in your gas tank and get 31 miles to the square yard.  Still, there’s nothing more inviting than natural fabric with just a touch of give to it.  A terrific invention, these blends.

Getting older
.  Of course I have all the usual complaints in that department.  But aside from the fact that it beats the alternative, there are some great advantages.  Say, for example, you’ve always had trouble retaining geographical data, and find the Scandinavian countries wholly indistinguishable from one another.  Well, people will now assume you’ve forgotten which is which, or that you’re momentarily hormonally impaired.
Or say you’ve never gotten through Ulysses.  No one holds it against you, because no one remembers or cares anymore that you were an English major.Or say you were an overly earnest young person, a person tediously short on vices.  Well, you can now develop them without too much worry about their long-term effects.

For instance, since you can’t fix your crankiness, you can feature it.

Published in the Piedmont Post, September 9, 2009


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