But sometimes the unexpected is just (as the commercial says) "the best gift ever!"
The gift of a beautiful day.
The gift of an absolutely incredible friend who came over with her dogs to enjoy the outdoors for a couple of hours, and ended up staying all day as she single-handedly raked a ton of leaves in the front/side/backyard (we're talking almost an acre!) for me while I cleaned up the front fence line and put up the Christmas lights. Thanks, Ellen!
The gift of finding a strange looking fossil with leaf prints and skeletal insect impressions when all I was doing was scooping the piggy poop.
The gift of waking up to find not one but two animals on my bed, cuddled up together - Sadie and Allie the cat! I didn't even object to the reality of a sore back from having to contort around them on my little piece of mattress.
Having a former student email me to tell me my course changed her life.
Sneaking a look at my blog during a break and seeing that we have passed 20,000 hits since I began posting last January (or, actually, since I added the counter in late February).
Picking up piggy scraps from a friend and receiving the gift of a steaming hot container of stew to take home for my dinner. Thanks, Lou!
And then, the grande finale:
Coming home from work, I ran into a traffic jam and decided to take a different route. I headed up one of the low, rolling mountains with plans to cut back down well before my turnoff. But the road I planned to take was closed for construction, and as I headed higher and higher, I realized there was no other cross road.
So I turned around. And then I saw it: the most incredible, amazing, brilliant, colourful, awe-inspiring sunset I have ever seen. On each end, snow-capped mountains. Above the sunset, deep purple wisps of cloud in a cornflower blue sky.
And the sunset itself: indescribable swirls of reds and oranges and yellows and purples and goldens stretching and burning from one side of the valley below me to the other. It was so overwhelmingly beautiful that it is not a cliche to say "it took my breath away." I pulled off the road and just sat there gazing at it in total and complete reverence.
Wow. Just. Simply. Wow.
I only wish I'd had my camera with me.