I’m sitting inside a coffee shop in a small town in Maine as the rain pours down outside my window. I love it!!

When you live in sunny Southern California, you sometimes long for some real weather. I know my east coast friends and family think I’m nuts but there’s nothing like a good thunderstorm to make my day!

Now I have to admit this all only works after we used up all of our fruit loops and licorice making necklaces (childhood memories, anyone?) and I dropped off my kids and their bored young children at the local bowling alley but still...It’s not that I don’t appreciate the challenges of rain (and snow and sleet and slush and hail and all that); it’s just that when you don’t experience it all the time, you can perhaps enjoy it more, appreciate it more.

When I’m in LA and it rains, I always notice how happy the plants seem to look. I think that perhaps this is just another example of taking certain things in life for granted and only appreciating the unusual – from both sides. Many people might suggest a character flaw in my inability to appreciate the sunshine of my (current) home state. I try to do that – especially in February when I can use it as an opportunity to gloat(!) – but of course I should do it more often. And it makes me wonder. If I had a house by the ocean or a lake or any body of water for that matter, would I continually appreciate it or it only special because I don’t see it every day?

I hate to think so but I’m afraid that might be true. If I lived in Jerusalem with constant access to the Kotel would I go regularly or would I just get caught up in my daily activities, too busy shopping and cooking and cleaning to notice?

One of my daughters took a day off work to spend time doing an activity with her children this summer. She remembered hearing at a parenting class that “you only have 18 summers with your children” and she didn’t want to miss the opportunity.

Do we appreciate that or are we too busy working and running and not noticing the time go by until they’ve left for college? Obviously that’s a dramatic example but Harry Chapin’s song has wide appeal for good reason. So yes, I’m enjoying the rain, I’m enjoying the east coast smells, the different sensibilities of the town I’m in, the architecture – you name it. But I don’t want to only enjoy and appreciate when I’m on vacation or when it’s different than my normal experience. I want this to be an everyday occurrence.

So besides bringing home a sunburn, some mosquito bites and some wonderful memories I want to bring back a newfound ability to appreciate exactly what I have – beginning with the weather and the scenery and moving into the people and, well, my life. Vacations are meant to provide a change of perspective. I hope I succeed in keeping mine.