To the cashier at Trader Joe’s

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You were the only person I spoke to today.

I don’t say this to sound sad or anything. It’s just true. I enjoyed my day.

I went to the gym. Texted several people. Chatted on Facebook. Baked. Read. Wrote. Typed Merry Christmas many times.

But the only person I actually spoke to was you, a young man who made me smile.

First, you congratulated me on my choice of ice cream. Jingle Jangle. A holiday specialty at Trader Joe’s. Chock-full of sweet and salty goodies. (I’m actually digging into it now.)

Then we talked about all the fun items the store carries during the holidays. Chocolate and hot pepper-dusted almonds. Pumpkin cheese cake. Cranberry everything.

And then you asked me what I was looking forward to during this holiday time.

It was a sweet question — and I told you about my grandsons. And how I had seen them the weekend before and would see one tomorrow on Christmas Day.

And then I asked you what you were looking forward to.

Your eyes lit up and you lifted your arms above your head  as if you were going to cheer.

“We’ve wrapped up some baby things for my in-laws to open,” you said. “That’s how we’re telling them we’re finally pregnant again. We have a six year old, so this will be a big surprise.”

And I thought, how sweet. What a good man. I wished you well in the coming year — and you did the same.

I walked back to me car in the cold, raw rain, smiling.

If I had gone to a big supermarket today, I would have stood in long lines and been rushed through.

But you took the time to treat me like a human being — and share your joy.

Thank you for that. Our conversation was enough.

It was a Christmas Eve gift.

Avenue of the Giants, 2016

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The silence of centuries
settles in amid these giant redwoods.

Nothing to say to us,
their limbs whisper high overhead.

And, later, when we yell
a friend’s name who has wandered,

our voices feel choked off
by these solitary sentinels of the earth.

Why should they speak to us?
Such weak creatures without roots.

Red, red wine

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Drinking wine in Napa.

And, oh, how the stemware sparkles,
the vineyards cling to gold and russet
and wisps of fog give way to blue sky.

Who could ask for a better place
to escape a world gone mad and made mad
by thoughtless and careless promises?

We toast more in one day than in one year
and wish and hope and pray for a world
that’s shattering like glass.