In Praise of Little Things

For the first time in a long, long time, I was able to sit out on the back patio today during the early evening hours and look up at a blue sky. This is partly because they just moved the clock forward to daylight savings time here in the UK, so we get that extra hour of daylight now. It is now light outside until about 7:30 pm on a clear day, and that will eventually extend to about 10 pm during the height of summer.

Also, there is a blue sky in London today. There is almost never a blue sky in London between October and, oh, mid-April or so. This is the one day of the week where no clouds or rainfall are predicted. This is the one day of the month, and year, and century, and…oh, I exaggerate.

But damn, it sure gets cloudy and rainy and damp here a whhoooollleeee lot.

Drizzle and clouds are your constant companions here in the UK for months and months at a time. I say “drizzle” instead of “rain” because it doesn’t so much rain here as just spit out a constant flow of cloudy teardrops. I am from the American South, so I know rain. Back there we have vicious, violent rainstorms that pour rivers of water on you in a flash, and when you are caught out in it, you better take cover quick or you’ll be drenched down to your undies.

Here? It’s just a nice, polite little British rain, pittering and pattering, almost apologetic, as if it is terribly sorry to inconvenience you, but what can one do?

Sometimes it feels like it never goes away. Never ever ever never ever.

So, a blue sky on a temperate (50ish Fahrenheit) day in March is a blessing that you need to take advantage of.

That’s especially true when you are laid up with a knee injury, which I have been for several weeks now. I can’t and don’t go anywhere except to interminable doctor appointments that suck the soul right out of you. Today I went to another one of those appointments. This one was actually reasonable – it only cost me about four hours door to door.

The knee itself, it’s just an inconvenience. You can’t do many things you want to do, so you just focus on the things you can do. You deal with it. I have a pretty high pain tolerance – the doctor said as much, seeing as how I hobbled around on this fractured thing for weeks before they even knew it was fractured. He originally assumed it was just a ligament or cartilage tear, based on how I was able to deal with it without shrieking. So, it’s an inconvenience, nothing more or less.

But the medical appointments? Oy, they are the Seventh Circle of Hell here in London.

On the Uber ride home from today’s appointment I just looked out the window and soaked in the lovely Spring day. I was spent physically and mentally from the sheer exhaustion of having to schedule medical appointments and wonder what will go wrong when I get to them – because something always goes wrong when you get to them. They have the wrong paperwork. They have the wrong schedule. Your name is not in their computer. Their computer barfs out the wrong stuff. They didn’t get the email you sent — because you sent it to the private clinic, not the NHS — so let’s start over from scratch, shall we, mate? Etcetera.

I have gotten to the point where I just accept the misery. Do you ever reach that point? Where you just completely cave in to the misery? I am there. I don’t even complain anymore. I just stare at the blank spaces and tell myself, “This will not last forever. There will come a time when I can leave this haunted place and go home.”

I got home and cracked a beer and hobbled my way to the back patio. I just wanted to sit and stare at the blue sky and the clouds. That’s all I wanted. I answered a couple of work emails – hell, I answered work emails in the waiting room at the doc appointment – and now I just wanted to turn it all off.

Just. Turn. It. All. Off.


As a younger man, my favorite season was the Autumn. I loved the crisp air, the changing leaves, the orange sundowns, the calmness of it all. I liked the fact that everybody else was getting ready to hunker down for the cool and cold months, tucked inside, out of sight and mind.

But as I get older, I just want Spring and Summer to arrive. I want the sunshine and the warm temperatures. I want the long days and lazy, yawning nights. This probably has something to do with creeping ever closer to mortality. Flowers bloom in the Spring, bees buzz in the Summer, grass grows long and wild, the world comes to life – and life is growing shorter.

I actually relaxed for a few moments this early evening, staring up at the sky. I didn’t think about anything but the clouds and the sky. I almost never do that anymore. It’s a little thing, but damn, a big thing, too. More important than we realize.

Note: The photo is from our back patio, about 90 minutes ago. Not a great photo, but a great experience.


  1. Vance, I am one of those who prefers Fall and Winter to Spring and Summer. The start of football, the baseball playoffs, the leaves. Which leads into Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s…my favorite holidays by a mile. The Charlie Brown specials, more football, the start of basketball, Hallmark Christmas movies (don’t judge me!). I have often thought the UK weather would be a better fit for me. I love a good fog…as long as I don’t have to drive in it! I grew up on watching UK shows The Prisoner and The Avengers, which had me thinking one day I’d be a Brit. I hope that knee gets better real soon. Maybe the warmer weather on the East Coast will do the trick!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bruce, I feel you about football season. But these days I’m just a warm weather guy, plus Spring always means baseball! Thanks for the kind wishes. Enjoy the Final Four! I can’t imagine anyone having those four teams in their bracket, and if so, they stand to make a haul…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s lovely when one can just *be*, isn’t it? Especially with the wonderful weather you had. The parks in London are amazing for that, too. I guess back in the U.S. – like here – there are many more ordinary spaces like that to appreciate nature (outside of dedicated parks), as opposed to the sweeping urban layout of London – which, in some places, feels like rows and rows of shoe boxes.

    Anyway, it’s interesting what you say about changing preferences of seasons as you aged. For a long time, Winter has been my favourite season. But in recent years, I’ve taken to Autumn as well – mostly because of how visible the changes are. It’s a natural reminder of the cycles of life.

    Summer is my least favourite, because I don’t get enough rest, and the kids stay up much later. But maybe that’ll change as *I* get older too. If arthritis strikes, then my bones will probably appreciate it too, over the colder seasons. Is that part of your reasoning too?

    PS: I notice you capitalised the names of the seasons, which is something I’ve always done too. But in recent years, I read that it’s incorrect to do so. Am I correct in thinking that in the old days – maybe 30-odd years ago, it *used* to be a standard to capitalise the seasons’ names, as proper nouns? And somewhere along the line, this standard changed? (Which doesn’t make sense, because if that’s the case, why do we capitalise the names of months and days? They are just as much specific named time periods as seasons…so why the differentiation?)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing, Yacoob. You’re right about having to hunt for natural areas in these big cities, but as you say, London does have a lot more green spaces/parks than most booming metropolises. I do miss having a car and driving way out into the country, though. And yes — I think my age makes me more inclined to want warmer weather, probably because of the subtle creaks and aches that increase with age.

      Funny you mention about the capitalization! As I was writing this I think I knew that the current style is to no longer to capitalize, and when writing news content I write the seasons in lower case. But the purist in me still looks at the seasons as formal names. I was aware of all this as I was writing the blog. We writers always think of these things, yes?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not only writers, but I think noticing such things is a sign that editing is a calling, too.

        My advantage in in poetry is that I have creative licence to adhere to whatever standards I want – all in the name of creativity. So I usually stick with that capitalisation standard. It’s harder in prose, but I mostly stick to it there as well. I do wonder, though, whether the general public even notices – or cares.

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  3. I feel your pain on the rain Vance! Living in Stuttgart, Germany, which the other Americans say is comparable to Seattle for weather. It’s not what they say in the recruiting speech, only after you’ve signed up and arrive and start to wonder … ! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, Stuttgart. We have never been there but we did travel to Munich last summer. I always felt London weather was kind of like Seattle as well, though I’ve only been to Seattle once. But it is a sort of constant cloudy damp here for months and months on end. Enjoy your adventures there in Deutschland!


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