On this blog page, author Mary C. Woolling posts an ongoing series of her essays showcasing the positives of life.

New essays are added often. You are cordially invited to become a regular reader. Also, please feel free to share this site with your family and friends via the “Tell a Friend” link, located in the right-hand column below.

Comments on Mary's essays are most welcome. Simply click on the “Post Comments” link appearing at the end of each essay, and share your thoughts.

If you'd like to contact Mary, you may do so at mary@herestolife.us

Saturday, June 10, 2023


Dear Readers,

There are some people in this world who never seem to grow old, no matter how old they grow to be. Case in point: my friend Mary Jane.

This past week, I hosted a spring luncheon, and Mary Jane was one of the attendees.

Mary Jane is 95 years young, and I mean young. She lives in a retirement center now and no longer drives. Another friend, Betty, who also came to the luncheon, brought Mary Jane with her.

As has always been her way, Mary Jane arrived impeccably dressed and brimming with good cheer. She still walks with a spring in her step and without assistance. With her sparkling eyes, beautiful smile, and ready laughter, she hasn’t changed a bit.

For many years, while living in her own home, Mary Jane had the habit of taking a morning constitutional through her neighborhood. She still follows that daily routine, now traversing the sidewalk that runs the periphery of her retirement facility. She loves to hear the birds singing as she makes her way along the path and whistles back to them — mimicking their individual tweets and chirps. She is hoping to learn to identify each type of bird by its song.

Mary Jane shared some fascinating stories of her life — both current and from long ago. She earned a degree in economics from the University of Iowa. One day, in an English class, she and fellow students had an exciting visitor — the famous poet Robert Frost, who recited some of his poems.

Lately, Mary Jane herself has been writing poetry and sharing her works with fellow poet residents in her retirement community. One of her recent poems recalled happy days spent with her husband, sailing on a lake in northern Michigan. Her current poem-in-progress is a tribute to the giant rose mallow hibiscus flowers (“dinner-plate hibiscus”), which are now in full glory on the grounds of the retirement facility. Mary Jane said she is hoping to complete this poem just as soon as she finds a word that rhymes with “hibiscus!”

Mary Jane is a breath of fresh air. She inspired us all with her contagious optimism and joie de vivre.

My “Quotation of the Day,” received this morning, seems especially appropriate.

“None are so old as those who have outlived their enthusiasm.” Henry David Thoreau

As the years go by, may we all remain as young and enthusiastic as my ageless friend Mary Jane.

Thursday, May 04, 2023

Winging into Spring

“For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, and the time of the singing of birds has come…”
Song of Solomon 2: 11-12

In her 1962 bestseller, Silent Spring, gifted writer, biologist, and early environmentalist Rachel Carson foretold of a world without birds and other wonders of nature as a result of the widespread use of pesticides, specifically DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane). She claimed that these chemicals would cause the deaths of untold numbers of animals, especially birds, and even humans.

Her writing engendered much discussion and study of the use of biocides and their potentially lethal effects. As a result, in May, 1963, President John F. Kennedy’s Science Advisory Committee determined that pesticides should be used to maintain the quality of our food and health, but not indiscriminately, in which case it might jeopardize the balance of nature. Dr. Jerome B. Wiesner, the committee chairman, stated that their routine usage posed “potentially a much greater hazard” than the deleterious effects of uncontrolled radiation.

We owe a great debt to Miss Carson for alerting the country to the danger of this potential catastrophe before it occurred. Her efforts ultimately led, in 1972, to the ban of the usage of DDT in the U.S.

The idea of a spring without the familiar sound of birdcalls is inconceivable. Along with the blossoming of crocuses, tulips, and hyacinths, the sight and sound of birds is part and parcel of the season. They portend the end of a long winter and promise of beautiful weather days ahead. Spring just wouldn’t be spring without the birds.

We derive such pleasure from our feathered friends. No matter where we are outdoors, they appear in wide variety, brightly-colored, active, and entertaining to watch. They sing their hearts out for us, providing delightful music to enjoy. Bird watching is said to be the most rapidly growing hobby in America today, with almost 70 million individuals avid backyard birders.

Some species of birds are prevalent in all areas of the country, while others are specific to certain regions. Each in its own way enriches our lives. We can easily invite these feathered songsters into our world through the simple provision of birdhouses, birdbaths, and bird feeders with seed blends, suet, table scraps, or bread crumbs. Feeders and houses come in many types, including those placed on poles, hanging from tree branches, and attaching to the outside of windows. All allow for close-up observation of the lovely winged creatures.

Once we begin to pay attention, it’s not long before we come to recognize certain birds by their distinctive markings, habits, and individual songs. The soft gray Mourning Dove is known for its haunting four or five note cooing sound. The Robin Redbreast is perhaps the best recognized of all North American birds, with its characteristic gait of hop, skip and head-tilt and “cheerily carol.” Then there is the Song Sparrow, aptly named for its unique trilling call, and the unmistakable Woodpecker, with its red head, solid black back, white underfeathers and familiar rat-tat-tapping of its beak on tree trunks. And let’s not forget the brilliant scarlet-colored Cardinal, better known as the Redbird, with its joyful “purty! purty! purty!”

The world is full of intriguing delights–some, like the birds, quite literally right outside the window. It’s Spring! The time of the singing of birds has come once again.

Take a look and a listen. Purty! purty! purty!

Thursday, April 20, 2023

A Day to Be Happy

“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”

~Anne Frank (1929-1945) Famous Holocaust victim

For two long years during World War II, Anne Frank and her family lived in hiding from the Nazis, confined in cramped attic rooms of an office building in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In spite of existing in a state of ever-present fear and isolation, young Anne never stopped believing in the goodness of life.

Except for her father, Anne and the other members of her family ultimately died in concentration camps. Anne’s gallant message, recorded in her red-checkered diary, however, was not silenced by her cruel captors. The little cloth-bound book, later discovered on the floor of the Franks’ former living area, has prevailed as a timeless statement of hope to the world.

In the spirit of Anne’s words, in spite of our individual challenges, major as they may be, there are still so many reasons to be happy today. Life in all its simple pleasures is precious and a gift to be savored. We don’t have to look far. An infinite variety of things to gladden our hearts is right before us.

Here’s just a sampling:

The irreplaceable sound of a loved one’s voice calling “Good Morning”

Brilliant sunshine streaming through a window

Fluffy white clouds in vivid blue skies

Beckoning green hills with lush valleys below

Delicious aroma of freshly-brewed coffee

Cheerful song of robins twittering in the trees

Regal purple iris and friendly daisies in full bloom

A rainbow decorating the sky after a thunderstorm

A little white farmhouse with red rosebush nearby

Tinkling piano music drifting across the air

Children’s voices raised in shouts of delight

The merry peal of a grandmother’s laughter

The sight of a baby taking her first faltering steps

The contented purring sound of a tabby cat

The soulful eyes of a cocker spaniel

What makes you happy today?

Previous Posts