Easily Amused

Illustration by Judith R. Robinson


I‘m having fun already.” Cindy sighs, her brown ponytail lolling against the headrest.


“I know, right? But then, you are easily amused.” I take my eyes off the road and glance to where she sits in the passenger seat.

That sentiment, of being easily amused, goes back more than fifty years. First as teenagers, then roomies and drinking buddies, and now as mothers and grandmothers, the two of us find joy in simply hanging out. No lavish spa days, jam-packed cruises, or cross-country concerts are necessary.  A glass of wine, a People magazine, and we’re good to go.

Today, we head to one of the many small wineries near where we live.

I watch the road. Semi-rural, it winds, rises, and falls like a kiddie park roller-coaster.  Warmth beams through the windshield, tossing a virtual blanket around our shoulders. Cows and llamas and sheep voice what seems to be pastoral glee. Oak trees bud, showing off tiny bright green growth. Emerald grasses, thick before summer’s inevitable scorch, remind me that, perhaps, life will prevail.

It’s February. For most of our long friendship, Cindy and I would have encountered cool and foggy conditions on such a day. But today is very different. Gradually over the last decade, we’ve come to expect and curse the mild, springlike conditions in the middle of winter.

Each hot dry year brings a new and unexpected consequence. This year, temperatures never drop far enough or long enough to kill off mosquito larvae. As a result, we now swat at insects that should be relegated to late-summer cookouts.

Prayer Gardening: Poems
by Constance Brewer and Kathleen Cassen Mickelson
  The interplay between the two poets immerses us in family relationships, encounters with the natural world, and most of all, a mature understanding of the contradictions in all of our lives. - Joanne Durham, author of To Drink from a Wider Bowl and On Shifting Shoals The earth-toned poems in Prayer Gardening by Constance Brewer and Kathleen Cassen Mickelson burble along the riverbank, lace themselves among the trees, tease us through seasons, give us glimpses of dreams, the yeasty smell of bread rising, the moon, angels, and even origami. And, oh, the birds—glorious, full-throated, “each voice as one small part of a choir,” (KCM) “light arrowing down/ to anoint… with purpose” (CB). Though there are two distinct voices here, one cannot help but deduce they are both channeling the same dazzling earth-centric deity. - Kari Gunter-Seymour, Ohio Poet Laureate, author of Alone in the House of My Heart Prayer Gardening sparkles with birds, stars, and snowflakes. In these pages we feel touch “sweep my soul/back into my body” and “hear the hunger beneath every song.” Constance Brewer and Kathleen Cassen Mickelson’s words call us to “whisper thanks for this breath,” reminding us to fully inhabit our lives—as the best poetry always does.   - Laura Grace Weldon, 2019 Ohio Poet of the Year, author of Portals   Available from Amazon and Kelsay Books. For more information, visit or

Fewer trees are planted and more are removed. Gardens become rock and wood chips. This isn’t the end of it either. Our town, our county, the entire planet has changed. And not for the  better.

I almost say, “Wow. It shouldn’t be this warm.” But I’m tired of stating the obvious, and with Cindy, I don’t have to. She knows.

“There it is.” She points across the steering wheel to the winery’s driveway. I turn left, my car tires crunching on the gravel lot. Snug between a Toyota and a beat-up truck, I brake to a stop.

The moment I open the door, I’m greeted by the holy trinity of amusements: food, wine, and music.

Smokey barbacoa and sizzling onions coalesce to invoke deep memories of hot summer days. A warm rush lifts my hair, and I want to be happy.

Spicy beef and blackened veggies soak my plate. Bluesy notes set my toes to tapping. Local Zinfandel fills my glass.

We move to a grassy hill that overlooks a gazebo.

While we set up lawn chairs, the Conger Ice Shelf melts. In the time it takes to smile at a trio of toddlers, wildfires rip through Colorado. And as we sip red wine, drought locks wild salmon in a death grip.

I want to believe all is well on this day here at the winery. It’s hard, but I make up my mind, in this moment, to set aside harsh reality. And I, too, am easily amused.



Author's Comment

Worry over a loved one’s illness and my displeasure with the state of the world had dampened my ability to relax and enjoy small pleasures. The day that my friend and I visited a winery, I decided to set aside my concern about the things that I can’t control. And when I did, I was able to feel the small sweet experiences around me.


Lynette Blumhardt began writing fiction, non-fiction, and creative nonfiction six years ago. Long before children took up all of her time, energy, and money, she wrote freelance pieces for Woman’s World, Grit, the Sacramento Bee, and California Game and Fish. An essay of hers was published in HerStry in 2021.     

Judith R. Robinson is an editor, teacher, fiction writer, poet and visual artist. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, she is listed in the Directory of American Poets and Writers. She has published 100+ poems, five poetry collections, one fiction collection; one novel; edited or co-edited eleven poetry collections. Teacher: Osher at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. Her newest poetry collection, Buy A Ticket, was published this year, and is available from Amazon.

6 Comments on “Easily Amused

  1. We often begin our days with the news and all the terrible things we can do nothing about but worry. It is good and necessary for us to escape and find things to enjoy. I like this story.

  2. Thank you for illustrating daily parallel universes and a commitment to enjoy the pleasures life offers so succinctly. Your writing stimulated this passage in my mind, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

  3. Very good essay! I travelled with you towards the winery and today I will drink red wine with muy eldest daughter un Chile and we will s
    ay Salud! For you!

  4. Wow, that story was me, is me and I’m going to try to live more in the moment. Thank you
    I always knew you were good, say hi to Will
    Love Sue

  5. Loved this so much! We all could really benefit from a day away from reality. Really love the way you write.

  6. Great stacation for a day for me, Lynette. Thanks for reminding me of the joy that still exist no matter what the world is up too! Congrats and Aloha

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