Enjoying Simple Pleasures in Retirement

A retired English teacher tells us how to live simply and deeply in retirement


During our careers, work, household chores, and family or community commitments compete for our time. While doing each of these activities our minds often race ahead to the next, prioritizing what will be accomplished and what can be put off until tomorrow.

After a lifetime of tight scheduling, multi-tasking, and speeding down the highway to her next appointment, Joan Mountford, a retired English teacher in Deerfield, N.H., has discovered how to slow life down. She writes in the Concord (N.H.) Monitor about her 7 years of retirement, 8 hours of sleep a night, and her quest "to live deliberately", as Henry David Thoreau did by Walden Pond:

“Many of the smallest pleasures of my retirement are daily delights: Reading the morning paper in the morning. Doing the crossword. Enjoying a novel while it's still on the bestseller list. Watering the plants on the deck each summer with a watering can - slowly, so I can really look at each one… Having more time available also means that, if I'm still, I may discover who else lives on this piece of land my husband and I call "ours": The hawk that lands on the side lawn one morning. Two spotted fawns with their mother early one afternoon. Dozens of dragonflies one hot summer day, hovering just beyond the deck, glinting jewel colors in the sunlight. And, if I can stand motionless by the feeder in the cold, the chickadees who swoop in to perch only inches away, the only sound the flutter of their wings in the still air.”

I wonder if money worries will invade this tranquil picture of retirement. But I’m hopeful that both working and retired Americans will rediscover the profound, yet free, activities that Mountford describes.