Jo Ann Jaacks: When the universe sends you a message

I have a routine on Sunday mornings. I arise early as on every day, but the newspaper comes later on Sundays, so I review online messages and Facebook posts, and if that’s not enough to accompany cottage cheese and peach slices for breakfast, I turn to the unread magazines.

This particular Sunday morning, there was a plethora of posts on Facebook. I saw a message from a young woman who said it took her a year of many small steps but she overcame her anxiety from COVID-19 and regained her zest for life: An obituary of a man I only met once but remember well with his masterful and lengthy service with the White Memorial Foundation, and quickly received many similar responses.

Then, while awaiting the newspaper arrival, I opened the new issue of Yankee magazine and read about a young couple - the woman is an artist and her husband is a poet - who are incongruously running a goat dairy and confectionery farm in Vermont. The name of their enterprise is “Big Picture Farm” and their goat-milk caramels have been featured on the Today Show and The New York Times.

I cobbled this all together with my favorite trails and saw the connection: I should be fast-tracking any and all New Year’s resolutions to kick into gear, be grateful every day for that day, and keep my eye on the “Big Picture.”

Of course, nothing hard and complicated plays out easily in real life. New Year’s plans are usually destined for failure, those who have passed to the next life are facing their own adjustments, but I have to say, anyone who works hard to create the “Big Picture” of their prayers and dreams has my hopes and prayers.

For some reason, this all reminded me of a long-ago trip my husband and I made when we settled in Connecticut after 25 years living in south Florida. I wanted to re-connect with my roots so we booked an authentic Thanksgiving celebration in Vermont at a hundreds-year-old dwelling converted into a B&B. The food was cooked over a massive fireplace, using ancient recipes. We all gathered in the great room, cuddling up to the fire. Then a blizzard that had been forecast as “light snowfall” came roaring in.

We awoke the following morning, preparing to pack up and return home, facing more than a foot of fallen snow. The inn-keeper plowed a path for us to reach the highway, but after a few agonizingly slow miles and witnessing a number of vehicles stuck on the sidelines, we made a cautious U-turn and spent another night at the B&B.

We enjoyed Thanksgiving leftovers and drafts of hard cider in front of the fireplace in the company of the other guests —cwhich turned out to be the best re-enactment of an early holiday ever.