So there I was, driving my trusty ten-year-old Prius (“It can pass a gas station but not much else…”) down to Richmond to join with writin’ buddies at the Virginia Romance Writers’ annual awards luncheon. I hadn’t left my house until about 7 pm, and I was pretty tired and grouchy. Part of my grouchiness was because I was taking Route 15–nobody sane drives I-95 south on a Friday evening in summer, or ever, really.
The day was cloudy, so by about 8 pm, the glorious Virginia countryside was shrouded in darkness. Bummer. And then it started to rain, which after dark in my little pee-pee car is my absolute NOT favorite. I wound past Warrenton and on through Culpeper, getting more tired and out of charity with myself when an enormous burst of light filled the night sky.
Fireworks? In Mid-East Cowpat, VA?
Another great burst of light exploded, and another and another. Seems I’d hit the great metropolis of Orange just as the local carnival was putting on its big display–and it was quite a display. As I drove past the carnival grounds, I was reminded of all the times I’d been a kid at a carnival, my precious tickets clutched in my hand as I chose my fun, that funnel-cake scent filling the summer air.
I can’t watch something that spectacular and not be impressed–with human ingenuity, if nothing else. Fireworks are purely for enjoyment, purely a spectacle. I drove on, and oh, lookee! The lightning bugs were out down around Boswell’s Tavern. I do love the lightning bugs.
I bethought myself to see what CD I’d left in my CD player the last time I’d used it (sometime in 2018), and it was Iz Kamakawiwo’ole’s “Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World” medley. Gorgeous composition. Played it three times back to back and sang along. Got to my hotel room and snuggled in with the latest Jennifer Ashley Kat Holloway mystery–I am so enjoying that series.
One random event–the fireworks display–jolted me out of my funk, and from there, the positive vibes grew. As I drove home today (dry roads!), I was in a much better frame of mind. What fun to meet new writin’ buddies! How lovely the countryside is when blanketed in summer green! How wonderful to have arrived safely home after all that driving, and isn’t a cup of tea just the most delectable treat ever?
I try to end my day listing at least five things I’m grateful for, but this little road trip through VA reminded me that gratitude has more zing–more power to lift mood and reduce anxiety–when it’s specific to our immediate situation. Of course health, family, friends, job, a safe place to sleep are all wonderful, but those unexpected fireworks were wonderful in a more immediate sense.
And that led to noticing the lightning bugs, the brilliance of a well crafted historical mystery, the pleasure of comfy bed, the flowers by the Gordonsville visitor’s center, and much more.
What small, unique-to-this-day thing are you grateful for right now? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed print copy of How to Ruin a Duke AND a $50 e-gift card.