ROUNDING the bend along a trail, a small hedgehog cactus in full bloom stopped me in my tracks. A petaled constellation of blossoms, concentric circles of crimson, orange and lemony yellow orbited a center of pink and green.
In a flash of wonder, it hit me: five decades and then some old, and I had never seen such an unfolding. Until now. I watched the sun glimmer through and over the fleshy cups of color, snapped a few photos, and then headed down the trail. It’s not every day we round the bend and come upon cacti in full bloom. Not every day that we can be struck with first-time wonder. So what do we do when there are no blossoming cacti awaiting us around the bend, when there are no new sightings along our path? Insight number one arrived with piercing clarity: Strive to see everyday sights with new eyes.
On the way back, the cactus flowers still glowing in memory, I looked down and saw what I thought was a small egg-shaped piece of quartz. Or maybe it was a jellybean? Its surface had that opaque sugary glimmer, and Easter had been just a day or two before. I picked it up and rolled it in my palm. Too light for quartz. I pressed a thumbnail into its shell, fully expecting the surface to yield in a thin crescent. Instead, it exploded in my hand in a yellow gooey mess. Duh. Small white egg-shaped object? If only I had realized, I might have added this perfect specimen to my collection of half-shell findings. Insight number two: Take care and recognize the simple treasures you hold in the palm of your hand, lest you crush them into oblivion.