Small Joys

Do you remember where you were when you first heard the word quarantine? For me it was October 22, 1962 when President Kennedy spoke about preventing the Soviet Union from placing nuclear weapons in Cuba. The weaponry came in by ship, and Kennedy decided that a “quarantine” of the island nation was the best course of action. The administration called it a quarantine, because the term “blockade” would symbolize war.

Today there is what Fady Joudah calls “the quarantine on small joys.”

And because I thrive on small joys, I’m a bit off balance. Small joys are a major part of my minimalist livelihood.

Here are some small joys sans quarantine, from Lawrence Durrell:

A bureaucrat: “the endearing solemnity of a talking watermelon just down from Cambridge.”

Another official: “his starched cuffs rattled crisply.”

A group of people: “the disconsolate air of a family of moulting turkeys.”

Pigeons suddenly taking flight: “with the sharp wingflap of a thousand closing books.”

From an airplane: “The slow loops and tangents of the brown river lay directly below, with small craft drifting about upon it like seeds.”

Wearing a bulky, heavy uniform: “It was like being dressed in a boxing glove.”

Late afternoon: “the violet light of dusk was already in the air…gnats rose into the eye of the dying sun in silver streams, so store the last memories of the warmth upon their wings.”

Shop talk: “You thought you would somehow sneak by the penalties without being called upon to do more than demonstrate your skill with words. But words…they are only an Aeolian harp, or a cheap xylophone. Even a sea lion can learn to balance a football on its nose or to play the slide trombone in a circus.”

And from the world of music: Alondra de la Parra

And from the world of art: Deborah Roberts

Plus the photograph of the painting at the top, Bal du moulin de la Galette, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

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