Friday, December 10, 2010

One Minute Vacation: A Snippet of Life

A cool 23 degrees Fahrenheit, I scurried from my mini-van toward the small unheated building where people go to sit and bird watch at a local park. Two elderly gentlemen chatted on the sidewalk as I turned toward the courtyard. The one puffing on a stogie yelled to me, "You need a hat or your ears will freeze."

"I know." I grinned, kept my quick pace. I find it impossible to take offense at gruff grandfather types.

Moments later, I slipped into the empty room, settled in an icy chair and exhaled deeply. The enormous window displayed an abundance of wildlife. A pair of ducks swam in the tiny, heated pond, and several squirrels dashed here and there, nibbling on nuts and seeds as they went. The birds were spectacular: blue jays, cardinals, woodpeckers, sparrows, and chickadees rushed around, bandying for the best feeders. The woodchucks didn't appear, no doubt hibernating already.

Within a few minutes, the gentlemen entered and took two seats on the other side of the room.

I'm an eavesdropper. Can't help it, especially when there are only three people in a small, echoing room and I'm one of the three.

"Look at the ducks in there," one said with jolly awe. "It's duck season. Smart things. They're safer here."

"Duck season, huh? I read in the Blade that in Toledo alone hunters bagged 138,000 deer on opening day. 138,000. That's a lot of deer. Or maybe 38,000? I don't know."

"Yeah, Bob was driving the other day and one shot out in front of him."

"He hit it?"

"Nah, he missed. Lucky one, that Bob..."

A squirrel head popped up over the fence, distracting me from the entertaining conversation volley.

"My two daughters--they're gorgeous I tell ya--they could be models. In fact, Seventeen magazine came to Toledo--"

"There's modeling in Toledo?"

"Will you just listen?"

I missed this segment of the conversation too because three blue jays stormed a feeder. When the birds had settled, I realized I could still see my breath, so I stood and walked toward the door. As I passed the men, I wished them a good day.

"Same to you," Mr. Stogie replied in a kind tone. "You on your lunch break?"

I laughed--don't ask me why, I just laugh a lot. "I work from home."

"Nice to get out of the house then, eh?"

"Yeah, I stop by for a breath of fresh air and to see the fuzzy animals. Have a good one."

"You too." We nodded to each other, and I left.

I scurried back to my mini-van, my heart much fuller than when I arrived. Such a small and common scene in my life, but this one stood out. Maybe it's because Christmas is almost here, or because every headline lately centers around missing children, kidnapped girls, and other heinous crimes, but the two gentlemen reassured me that the world is full of good people.

Do you have places you go for a break? Are you like me, unable to resist chatting with people you haven't met?

Have a joyous weekend!


  1. Beaches, parks or just my back deck. My fav place for a break is actually in my backyard at night under a the dark and heat of summer evening. Stars or no stars, I like the sound of crickets and the hint of a storm building.

  2. I do chat with others if the opportunity arises. I am glad for friendly souls still out there and not all crazies! :O)

  3. Love your eavesdropping conversation. Don't know what it is about me, but I can be standing in line, minding my own business, when a stranger will strike up a conversation. Himself is often shocked at how much personal detail these people give me. Seems The Young One has inherited the gift too.

  4. Oh, Jill, moments and interactions like that are some of the most important for me. I love that you experienced this!

    I've always had a certain fondness for grandfatherly types, too. :)

  5. That's so funny, Jill.

    I like to strike up conversations in elevators. Especially if someone is already on the elevator when I get on. I'll ask something like, "Can you give me a ride to the 6th floor, please." It catches some off guard, but there are always a few who laugh and start talking.

  6. Good morning!

    Tabitha: I love that too! There's something so wonderful about sitting under a dark sky in the summer.

    Diane: Me too! And sometimes when someone comments on the weather it makes me feel better.

    CJ: Same here. I'm a magnet for personal detail spills, but I don't mind. :)

    Janna: That doesn't surprise me! Gruff old guys are fun!

    Heather: I would laugh! Cute!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  7. I loved reading this. Sounds like a perfect break!

  8. I love it that you don't get offended at grandfather types, and laugh a lot.

    I NEED a spot like this!

    Happy weekend,

    P.S. Lovely writing.

  9. Sounds like a perfect spot to visit, I think I'd bring along a cup of coffee to linger with, too. I like sitting like that on the boardwalk at the beach, any season. It's a perfect place for just idling ...

  10. Thanks, Jill....That was great! I'm glad I'm not the only eavesdropper. :)

    I'm always joining in on conversations. Why not, human interaction is so important for every human. :)

  11. Jill, what fun to learn more about you. If I read things right, you're a people person, a bird watcher, and a person who appreciates the wisdom of your elders--along with being a talented writer. Am I right?

  12. Julie: It was. I love moments like those!

    Jen: We all need a spot like that!

    Joanne: Oh, the boardwalk! *sigh* I would love to sit by the ocean right now!

    Sharon: Yes! Are we related? :)

    Keli: Those are some rosy attributes--I can't take credit for all that! I do love birds and I like to tease around with elderly folks. They're fun!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  13. Jill, I also love those random conversations with strangers. When I think of how they often brighten my day, I enjoy the thought that someone else's day is also happier because of our interaction.

  14. I love this story, Jill! And that fact that people can still appreciate the little things. I love to walk to take a break--especially places that are visually interesting. And sometimes I'll stop and watch people go buy or have their conversations. I'm not super outgoing so I don't often strike up conversations with people I haven't met, but if you sit there long enough, those people usually come to you and start talking anyway :)

  15. This is such a great snippet, Jill - it made me smile. On my break I usually for a run through Kensington Gardens, past Kensington Palace and through Hyde Park. It takes my breath away every time.

  16. Fun post! Not so much me. But my mom? Oh my goodness, that woman likes to talk to strangers. She's one of those ladies you don't want to sit by on a plane if you want to get any work done. She's a spunky woman.

  17. Fabulous story. It shows the humanity that is often lacking in society. :)

  18. I go to Caribou Coffee. I love to catch bits of conversations, or speculate as to the occupations and stories behind each of the faces. :)

  19. I'm glad that the world is still full of good people and you had a chance to run into a few. I like to go out back and watch the ocean or sit and enjoy a good book. Nothing like serenity.

  20. What a sweet adorable story. I love people like that. And I love birds and furry animals. Thanks for the "pause that refreshes."

  21. Yep, I talk to any and everyone. Today I was asking a woman at Walmart all about how she Frenchbraids her hair.

    ~ Wendy

  22. Lovely story! I like to go to the park near by. There's a hiking trail and it circles around a pond. It's very calm and peaceful there.

  23. Hi Jill -

    What fun!

    Me? I talk with people everywhere. Mom was in the hospital. Her roomie's visitors (daughters) were fascinating. We ended up exchanging business cards.

    If I have to wait in line, I'll strike up a conversation. Yep, I'm right there with you.

    Susan :)

  24. Rosslyn: So true. I hope chit-chatting with strangers brightens their day!

    Cindy: You're right--you don't have to say a word for people to just come up and start talking!

    Talli: Kensington gardens? Hyde Park?? I'm swooning! I'm obsessed with Regency romances and soooo jealous you're there! Next time you run, think of me. :)

    Katie: You have one of those spunky moms too? :) Mine is unfatigueable.

    Elana: Yeah, it made my day!

    Erica: I do that too. I love guessing people's lives!

    T Anne: The ocean--best place to sit and relax! With a book of course!

    Nancy: Birds and fuzzy animals fascinate me. I could watch them for hours!

    Wendy: That does not surprise me, and that's why I love you!

    Susan M: Sounds right up my alley. Hiking and ponds go hand in hand.

    Susan J: How nice! And I'm sure it brightened the mood of the room!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  25. Nice post, kind of drawn out though. Really good subject matter though.

  26. Fun post, Jill. That bird watching room sounds like an interesting place.

    When I need a break, if it's not winter, I often go to a bird refuge down the road from our house. Lots of people go there to watch the Sand Hill Cranes. They are amazing.

  27. Those two would make good characters in a book someday! Full of color. :o)

    Thanks for sharing, Jill!

  28. How sweet! For some reason, when I heard older men speak, I'm captivated. Maybe it's because I think back to what they've seen in their lives, and how much they've overcome.

  29. Yep! I chat with EVERYONE! There's stories lurking, Jill!

    Heard one from an older woman today and am trying to figure out how to novelize it!!!

  30. Paul: I've never seen a Sand Hill Crane, but I would love to! We have many migrating birds here like egrets and great blue herons. They're gorgeous!

    Jackee: They were really fun to be around!

    Julie: Yes, and they come from a different era with different rules. I find that fascinating.

    Patti: You? Stop and chat? I don't believe it! :) Ha! You and I would get along great!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!


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