Simple Gifts

"It’s the little things in life..." An understanding smile. A hand held. A door opened. The words, ‘thank you.’

Whenever I think of Simple Gifts, my mind first goes to the Shaker hymn tune as used in Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. It has been a favorite of mine since I first heard it in high school, though it wasn’t till college that I learned the 19th-century lyrics, as sung here by Judy Collins.

Simple gifts in our lives come from many sources and for all of them I am grateful each day. Today, as I prepare this simple meal to share on the patio with Luisa, our friend who just moved to Tucson from New York, I am grateful for these gifts from friends…

... for the loaf of bread Bill and Lee brought us on Saturday from the market (Barrio Bread)…

... for the cheese from Arch and Laura (made at Laura’s family farm - Shelburne Farms - in Vermont)…

... for the Crème d’Alhambra of Terre d'Andalousie that Susan and Towny (The Modern Trobadors) brought to us from Aix-en-Provence, so piquant on the bread with cheese...

... for the hosta spoon from Cathy and Heather - have you ever seen such an elegant one?...

... for the lettuce seedlings given by our neighbor Connie that became our salad…

... for the 'Arizona Sweets' oranges, grown at Desert Treasures, a business our friend Susie started in the 1940s in a grove planted by the Reverend George Ferguson in the 1930s. It still produces the oranges that we use in our salad…

... for the amazing juicy strawberries that came from the lovely couple from Oxnard, California – yes, even for these ‘strangers’ I am grateful, as they travel hundreds of miles to the Tucson Farmers Market each week for our pleasure.

In addition to these tangible gifts our friends have given us, there is no greater gift they give – and none simpler – than their friendship. I am old enough to know that friendships are treasures never to be taken for granted.

And I am young enough to have the time to say, ‘thank you’ each day, and to make sure my friends know how much they mean to me.

~ David

Strawberries and Grand Marnier

When simplicity is called for, this is one of the simplest and most elegant desserts one can serve.

perfectly ripe strawberries
Grand Marnier
confectioner’s sugar

Give each guest a plate of strawberries with a small glass of Grand Marnier and a little bowl of confectioner’s sugar. Dip the berries in the Grand Marnier, then into the sugar and savor the melding of flavors! (For those who cannot consume alcohol, a shot of almond – orgeat – syrup makes a nice alternative)


  1. David, this is such a sweet post. Your friends are very lucky to have you.

    Your images are beautiful. The strawberries look so plump and that spoon... I want one too! :)

    Your dessert is lovely. I have a small bottle Grand Marnier, now all I have to do is find some good strawberries!

  2. Thanks, Magda. I feel so lucky to be having such amazing berries in March!

    If I ever find another hosts spoon, I will snag it for you! Isn't it gorgeous? Mark's cousin Cathy always finds the most amazing gifts!

    Strawberries will soon be coming your way! :)

  3. What a lovely post David. And I know exactly what you mean, especially now. Tis a gift...(btw, I had the exact same reaction to 'Appalachian Spring' in high school, and still get chills whenever I hear it).


  4. Thanks, Karin. I am glad you appreciated it - I have been getting comments that it is relevant to many!

  5. David,
    What a wonderful way to begin my Sunday. I listened to both renditions of Simple Gifts and, although that melody always makes me stop in my tracks, I was particularly moved this morning as I read your post. I, too, think it is so important to let those who enrich our lives know how much they mean to us. In our frenetic and peripatetic world, it warms my heart to know that every Sunday morning (well, close to it!), I will find a lovely post from my dear friend so many miles away. It's like you are right here! I am not alone in feeling this way--you might be surprised how many other hearts you warm.

  6. Thank you, Susan! I think you really nailed it - it isn't just being young enough to have the time to tell our friends how much we care - it is taking the time in our busy lives. One of my Simple Gifts for today is that I get to read The Modern Trobadors in the garden with birds singing all around me...

  7. I love the idea of simple gifts, sometimes always the best. The Lavender Honey I sell from my site fits into this category I think

  8. Celia - I think the lavender honey is a perfect 'simple gift' and I am headed to your website right now! Thanks for reading!

  9. Blessings, David and Mark. That's what you've given me and what you are in my life. I'm learning how to value 'simple gifts' differently. This morning's were sliced apples (fragrant and juicy) and your blog post--because it brought your voice and your sensibility here to visit. Love you--Michael

  10. Thanks, Michael. You definitely are a gift and blessing in out lives, as well. Hearing your voice from your home the other day was a great gift to be sure!
    Love, David

  11. David, thank you for such a beautiful post with beautiful pictures. Your gift was sharing this with us all.
    I just love that spoon in particular. It makes me very happy to look at it. :)

  12. Thanks, Anna! Very sweet of you to say so! And that spoon makes me happy, too. Beautiful craftsmanship is something I really love.

  13. Beautiful, beautiful post. Such heartfelt thanks for wonderful blessings that are easy to take for granted! I'm trying to do the same thing. Thanks for the inspiration. Beautiful photos!

    1. I am reminded almost every day how fortunate we are - to be able to cook and eat as we do, with the freedoms we have. And I am especially fortunate to have such great blog friends... Thanks, Laura - wouldn't it be fun if all our favorite bloggers got together for dinner and cooked for one another?


Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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