Consider the chipmunks of the field. They neither toil nor spin.

Well, I guess they do toil. Their entire lives are probably spent in endless toil, what with evading predators and searching for food.

The thing is, though, they look so goshdurn cute while doing it. When I asked readers to share life’s little joys, one of them was literally quite little. For Fred Schantz of McLean, it’s watching “the backyard chipmunk get excited when fresh earth is turned over in the garden.”

As My Lovely Wife puts it: “You can’t look at a chipmunk and not be happy.”

These tiny critters were just one of the tiny joys that readers shared. For Pamela Gardiner-Little of Fulton, Md., it’s driving “in heavy traffic in D.C., looking up and seeing a squirrel cross the street using utility lines.”

John Del Vecchio of Gaithersburg writes, “I love it when I know the Wheel of Fortune final puzzle and the Final Jeopardy question, and the TV contestants don’t!”

Brentwood’s Melora Anderson writes, “I love when the leftover food I am putting in a tub is exactly the right amount.”

Speaking of the right amount: “I love it when you are able to use all of the change in your pocket while purchasing something at a store,” writes Steve Semrad of Herndon.

Springfield’s Rosemarie Westberg writes, “It makes me happy when I am in the grocery line with one or two items and someone who has a full cart in front of me notices and offers to let me go ahead.”

Beltsville’s Judy Diedrich completes the shopping cart cycle: “Something silly, but it makes me feel good when I am finished loading groceries in the car and someone comes along and offers to take my cart back to the store.”

I like this one from Sarah Zeigler of Dumfries: “Fixing a problem on my computer without my teenager’s help.”

And this one from Jim Gray of Charlotte Hall: “It’s weird, but seeing a football or basketball player hand the ball to an official, rather than just dropping it, makes me happy.”

Traffic in all its permutations usually ranks high on the peeve list. But Silver Spring’s Kathy Beach experiences joy when she’s in a busy parking lot and finds a pull-through spot.

Christopher Coughlin of Arlington County loves it when someone “waves after you make room for them to merge into traffic.”

Can you find joy on the Metro? Fairfax’s Jody Carlson can: “A very little thing that often makes me happy is finding a seat on Metro — on the Orange Line at rush hour, at Farragut West.”

Chevy Chase’s Michelle Saffir likes waking “up at 4 a.m. and realizing I have a couple more hours of sleep.”

In a similar vein, Waldorf’s Sallie Bell notes: “Of the hundreds of things that make me happy, one is waking up in the morning thinking it’s a work day then realizing it’s Saturday!”

And how’s this for simple, from Nancy Percivall of Crofton: She likes it when “the handle of my mug is facing toward me, ready to grab, when I open the microwave door.”

Let me share something: My open call for life’s little joys garnered half as many responses as my call for life’s little irritations. Things that rankle seem to stick with us out of proportion.

I’m guilty of it, too, obviously. It made me think that we should be on the lookout for the good, not the bad. Seek the chipmunk.

The road splinters

Last week’s column on the 1970s was illustrated with a photo of a wooden I Street. The newspaper caption was misdated — the photo was taken in 1973, not 1978 — and in one edition, it wasn’t overly informative. Why was the road wooden? Because of Metro construction going on underneath.

Chris Gordon of Annapolis remembers those days. He worked for what was then C&P Telephone, helping to ensure that wiring in the ground wasn’t severed by a backhoe.

“What you see [in the photo] was a cut-and-cover method of Metro construction,” Chris wrote. Rather than tunnel through the ground, crews would shut down a few city blocks and excavate the road from above.

Steel girders were put in place, and massive wooden beams — a foot thick and wide and 20 feet long — were laid down for traffic. “Meanwhile excavation could continue while the roadway stayed open,” Chris wrote.

Chris kept a length of that wooden road, which is now a plant stand in his house and “a constant reminder of those great times.”


Start your diet now. Here are a few more area class reunions:

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High Class of 1973 — Nov. 9. Visit

Cardozo High Class of 1963 — Oct. 4. E-mail Carolyn Marshall at cimarshall@verizon.

Walter Johnson High Class of 1973 — Oct. 12. Visit, or go to “WJ Class of 1973 — 40th Reunion 2013” on Facebook.

McLean High Class of 1983 — Sept. 14. E-mail Deb Lowry Krahling at sdkrahling@

Oakton High Class of 1988 — Oct. 18-19. Visit
or call Jen and Scott Shepard at 703-963-3822.

Theodore Roosevelt Class of 1963 — Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Contact LaVonia or Arthur Linder at or 202-529-7558.

For previous columns, visit