Delight 32: The Pocket Museum

2 years ago, on one of my many drives between Florida and Manitoba to move my Father’s vehicle to and from his winter and summer homes, my wife and I stopped in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. As is our habit, we like to find hidden, lesser-known places and spaces to explore. My wife came across the Hattiesburg Pocket Museum. Without knowing exactly what it was, we arrived on a Sunday and struggled to find the exact location. That’s because it’s in a back alley. This museum is a series of tiny toys and figures placed carefully on the various objects and infrastructure of this back alley. You’ll find these strategically placed in cracks and crevices, on metal boxes and benches. Each time you find one you shout “Oh look” or “Come see this one”. It’s a true surprise and delight scenario.

This past week we returned to see some new displays and once again were delighted and enjoyed this little detour.

Thinking about this made me think about how simple this idea is. It’s something that could be done almost anywhere. We love finding little treasures and elements of beauty that happen simply because someone thought it might be nice. I hope the creators of this museum realize how much pleasure and delight it brings to visitors. I think it’s a reminder that creating small moments of delight might be missed by some but for those who are paying attention and seeking out these simple but brilliant acts of creativity, it’s something very memorable.

Delight 31: My Dad the Celebrity

My Dad turns 92 in a month. He’s active, plays 100 rounds of golf a year, and regularly shoots his age or better. His mind is sharp and he’s still loving life. I’ve been blessed in so many ways to have him as long as I have. We’ve been golfing together for about 45 years and he remains my favourite golfing partner. Along with my sisters, he’s one of three people I’ve known my whole life.

On the other end of the spectrum of favourite people are my 3 grand-kids. As I’ve mentioned often, they are truly my pride and joy. Biased, I unabashedly brag about them and show them off whether in person or via social media. I love them and am proud of them and take delight in them. I feel very similar about my Dad.

When we golf in Florida, we’re often paired up with people. Without exception, they are amazed at how fit and how well he plays the game at 91. Probably for the last decade, I’ve seen this response over and over. People envy his health and all desire to be able to golf as well as he does when they reach that age. I watch in delight as he gets asked lots of questions about his life and they watch in awe as he still can hit a drive nearly 150 yards. Yesterday the couple we played with was a man and a woman in their 70s. Dad is a great golf partner for several reasons. He plays quickly, compliments and encourages his playing partners, and always shares a story or two that makes people laugh. At the end of our round, they asked if they could take a picture together. It was like watching a celebrity with his fans.

It’s not lost on me how fortunate I am. I’m grateful for all the time I’ve had with him and understand like he does, that this is all bonus time. My Dad is a delight in many ways and this was another cool example.

Delight 30: David Ayres and Drafts

I’ve been blogging since 2005. That’s over 100 in blog years. I’ve written over 1,200 posts. I actually go back and read stuff I’ve written in the past and consider how much my ideas and thoughts (see what I did there) have either evolved or remained the same. One of the other things I noticed in a recent review is the number of blog posts that are in draft form. I have 42 unpublished posts. One of those posts was part of my delight series entitled “David Ayres”. I had a moment when I wasn’t even sure who that was and why in the world I would be writing about him. But then I quickly remembered.

David Ayres was the emergency backup goalie sitting in the Air Canada Centre in the early winter of 2020 when the unthinkable happened. Both of the visiting team’s goalies for the Carolina Hurricanes were injured and David was called into duty. This is one of those rarities that has only happened once or twice before in the history of the NHL. I recall being at home and not watching the game when social media exploded. I quickly turned on the game to witness the second miracle of the night…he won! Essentially you have a man on the street being pulled into the biggest stage and succeeding. While Ayres was indeed a top-quality amateur goaltender, he wasn’t anywhere near the level required to play in the NHL. And yet for one night, one moment, he stood his own and had the experience of a lifetime.

Everyone loves the underdog story and this was the ultimate story. In fact, it appears it’s going to be made into a movie.

The delight I experienced from this comes at 2 levels. First, the shared experience that many had to watch this event unfold was joyous. Surprise is often associated with delight and this was not on anyone’s bingo card that night. Knowing what this meant to him, his family, and even the way the Carolina team embraced him was pure delight.

The second aspect here is a bit more meta. This event took place on February 22, 2020. I began writing this article on March 12, 2020. One look at those dates and you can figure out perhaps how this ended up in my draft folder for 3 years. But looking back and recalling the event, it still makes me smile. I spent a little time looking at videos of the event. Drafts are a bit like photos that you forget about and emerge on your timeline or other random places. They spark a memory that if you’re careful to savour, can bring you back and allow you to relive something nice. I’m grateful that that post didn’t get lost. It’s a 3-year-old story that still makes me smile.

Delight 29: Apples

I grew up in a small town, a farming community but I’m not a farmer. Even growing up, my parents never had a garden. I really am more of a city boy at heart. That said, I grew up with a lot of farmers and can at times fake my way through a discussion about agriculture.

13 years ago we moved into our current home and I planted an apple tree. I love apples. We all know store-bought apples are a gamble and of course, we’re all trying to understand who are the people buying Red Delicious apples. They are putrid. But like any freshly picked fruit or vegetables, they are in a different category altogether. Add to the fact they are my apples from a tree I planted and these apples are amazing. I’m sure if you tried them you’d think they were fine but for 3 weeks, I looked forward to each day I’d walk into my backyard and eat these beauties.

From early spring when the tiny apples began to appear I would regularly go out with my grandkids and talk about the day when we would pick and eat them. The anticipation most likely added to the delight.

We ate them right off the tree, my wife made apple crisp and the boys simply liked lining them up and counting them.

It’s not lost on me that my ramblings about this can seem overblown, inflated, or even pretentious but I truly do find delight in these seemingly trivial moments. The practice of savoring is not easy. I write this as part of that practice and maybe spark others to find delight in the things others miss.

Delight 28: Brothers

I have 2 older sisters so much of my childhood was experienced without siblings nearby. I envied my friends who had brothers because it just seemed so cool to be able to play sports together and learn from each other. I get it, many of you who have brothers might not see it the way my mind did as a child but I’m still envious of you. The brother relationship is like all relationships in that they are complex but it seems to me the potential is great.

Today I’m watching Herschel and Woody play. As 2 and 3-year-olds, play and social play is still in its early stages. Watching them negotiate and create their own rules is a challenge but over the last few months, they’ve begun to show a lot of progress. Herschel can be the sweetest older brother at times and wants to see Woody happy. Woody watches his older brother carefully and will mimic his actions. The kindness and caring are usually short-lived and often things go awry. But each day it seems that time of cooperation and collaboration is extended.

Clearly, I identify as a grandparent. It’s a role I’ve embraced and thrive in. I discovered the delight early on in this role was in watching and being less helpful. Watching them figure out how to play is fascinating and wonderful to watch. The degree to which I intervene is minor but hopefully useful.

I know many of my friends who have brothers don’t seem to be as close as they might be or maybe hoped to be. I’m imagining a day when my boys will be golfing together and taking trips with their families. I also hope that one day I’ll experience what my 91-year-old father did last weekend which was to watch 10 of his great-grandchildren play together.

I’d love to hear from those of you with brothers to share some of your insights on this relationship. Is it delightful?