Storing Up Memories for a Rainy — or Snowy — Day

By Michele Bazan Reed

Sunset at Breitbeck Park in Oswego.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to hibernate through the long Oswego winter. It’s a luxury I can partake in as a retiree, and after 45 years of commuting on snowy country roads, I figure I’ve earned it.

But the long days and weeks inside mean a bit of homesickness for the fresh air and beautiful nature of Central New York.

As I write this, it is May and the ice and snow of an Oswego deep winter has given way to green leaves and daffodils.

A recent trip from Syracuse to Oswego reminded me to savor the moment. Driving up Route 481, I hungrily stared out the window, gathering in sights I’ve missed since January’s blizzards and ice kept me close to home.

The reflections of trees in the rippling water of the Oneida River as the highway crossed it. The awakening trees by the side of the road, putting out the bright green leaves of early spring. Craning my neck to catch a glimpse of eagles soaring over a bend in the Oswego River north of Fulton. Grass springing up alongside the railroad tracks, glimpsed through stalks of last year’s white, feathery grasses.

Seeing those sights and hearing birds sing for the first time in weeks makes me realize how much I usually take for granted. I tend to think the things I have or cherish will always be there.

Isn’t that the way of us all? We live with our family and friends, thinking they’ll always be there. We spend our days surrounded by the beauty of nature, often blind to its beauty in our rush to work or errands. And our health — we think these bodies of ours will always perform until stiff knees put an end to our marathons.

I realized that I need to take more time to stop and literally smell the roses (or the coffee or the taco or the wet dog shaking mud all over the carpeting).

So here, for what it’s worth, is a list of random things which I vow to be more mindful of and store as memories for the inevitable dark days ahead.

• The sunset over Lake Ontario at Breitbeck Park during the golden hour at the end of the day.

• The shouts of children frolicking on the playground in West Park.

• The crash of waves on Lake Ontario as a late autumn storm brews up.

• The glimmer of light on the water, as I wander down the Oswego Riverwalk.

• Watching antique riverboats bobbing on the canal, as I gaze out the window of my riverside loft apartment.

• Common gray sparrows filling the tree in my parking lot with a twittering chorus as they flock to eat the last berries left hanging there in early winter.

• The glimpse of a cardinal doing a mating dance while an aloof female looks on.

The cold wet nose of a dog wanting love.

• The taste of take-out pizza — and disposing of the greasy box in the dumpster.

• The smell of freshly ground dark roast coffee, made in a French press like my late husband did. (And served with a chocolate croissant, slightly warmed to make the chocolate just the right amount of runny.)

• The creamy goodness of a well-aged Brie, slathered on a crusty slice of baguette, hot from my oven.

• The taste of a sandwich made on hot sourdough I baked myself: almond butter topped with wild blueberry preserves from France.

• Anything dripping with New York state maple syrup.

• Hot tea sweetened with a dollop of golden, rich local honey.

• The crunch of fresh sweet corn on the cob from the local farmers market, dripping with fresh local butter and seasoned with coarse salt.

• Speaking of salt, the taste of salt potatoes eaten outdoors, preferably with Hoffman’s hotdogs.

• The sound of music in concerts on Oswego’s Riverwalk.

• The crashing and bright bursts of Harborfest fireworks over the lake.

• The taste of pierogi from my favorite Polish restaurant, washed down with a cold lager imported from the land of my ancestors.

• The tickle of dewy grass between my toes on an early morning yard-stroll.

• The feel of book spines on the shelves at my local independent bookstore, and the smell of fresh ink on paper, as I crack open a hardcover volume.

• The sound of peepers in the pond at my old home, singing me to sleep each night.

• The rat-a-tat-tat of the woodpecker that awakened me each morning hunting for bugs in the railing of my deck.

• The comforting touch of a dog’s wet nose as he wedges his head under my hand for a pat.

• The warmth of a sleeping cat, purring up a storm as he naps on my lap.

• The ruby red glow of evening light through a glass of merlot from the South of France — and the taste of that red nectar on my tongue.

• The feel of my spouse’s hand, holding mine.

• The smell of a newborn baby’s head.

• The aroma of fresh cut grass, the early season, bright green shoots of May.

• The crunch of autumn leaves underfoot.

• The smell of a late fall bonfire.

• The aroma of a fresh-baked apple pie and the luscious contrast between the flaky crust and juicy filling.

There are so many more-this column could become a book!

What are some of your favorite things: things you may enjoy every day, taking them for granted?

Vow now to savor them, so their memories can sustain you through any long winter.