Happy Fourth of July, everyone!
Every year on this date, I’m reminded how much I love ephemeral things. Things like ice sculptures, rainbows, live theater, a storm over the Gulf, a spontaneous duet from my kids in the back seat.  Candles you burn at both ends, which will never last the night.

And today’s specialty: fireworks!

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m seriously root-bound in most of my life.  I stick with things.  Forever, if possible.  Friends, jobs, houses, even husbands. 😉

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But the Drama Queen/Secret Me is drawn to the special charm of a fleeting beauty.

Maybe it’s because my mom’s second career was as an antique paper goods dealer, which meant she sold “ephemera” like antique postcards, magazine ads, cigar label art.  Things that had been created to be enjoyed briefly, then tossed.

Or maybe it’s because, as I’ve matured, I’ve realized how hard it is for people to stay in the moment, to fully appreciate things that are always around.  To avoid the “take it for granted” trap.

Short-lived things force us to be awake and aware.

flor delamor label It’s now or never to enjoy that firework.  Thousands will explode tonight and every Fourth of July, but that one, showering that exact pattern of fire across the sky…never again.

Looked at that way, it’s a little melancholy, maybe.  But so alive.

In BETTING ON THE COWBOY, Grayson Harper is supposed to be ephemeral, too.  He’s in Silverdell only four weeks, just long enough to claim his inheritance.  Then he’s expected to disappear.  That means Bree Wright has a decision to make.  Will she trade four glorious weeks of being intensely alive for a lifetime of missing him?
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What would you do?  Would you grab a joy even if you knew you couldn’t hold on to it forever?  What are your favorite ephemeral things?

And to thank you for taking time away from your barbecue and pool games with the family, I’m giving away a copy of BETTING ON THE COWBOY to one poster today! 🙂

37 thoughts on “Brief Candles

  1. Such a good day for a reminder to stop and smell the roses (fireworks, hotdogs, etc.), Kathleen! And how cool to relate it to your mom’s work. It took me a minute, but I’ve got my favorite piece of ephemera: clouds! I’ll go weeks and months with my head down, doing life things. But when I remember to look up at the sky, there’s always something interesting, yet fleeting, to see! Happy Fourth to all 🙂

  2. Maria P says:

    I love children & don’t have any of my own, so any time that I spend with my nieces & nephews is both precious & ephemeral. My one & only Godson, PJ, is my favorite out of the bunch. Since his birth, we’ve had an indescribable connection. I just went to see him on Tuesday, & he never left my side! We never want to say good-bye when it’s time to! So if I were Bree Wright, I’d enjoy those 4 weeks with Grayson Harper, because like the scent of flowers, they will pass too quickly.

  3. Kirsten says:

    Hey how funny, a similar situation like Bree’s happened to me a few years ago. Met a great guy, fell madly in love but he was only in the COUNTRY for three months. He asked me to take a risk, go on an “adventure” & I said no. I was protecting myself, unsure of him and not very adventurous. Sometimes I still wonder what if… But I am (mostly) glad I stuck to my principals and stayed true to my beliefs. Am curious how things will go with Bree and Grayson 😀

  4. Oh, Jesse, yes, clouds! At the risk of exposing how silly I really am, I’ll admit that I’m always seeing signs and messages from the universe, written to me in the clouds! : 😀 Mostly, though, I just enjoy finding the usual elephants pushing strollers, pigs playing basketball, etc. 😉

    Picked up Mustang Ridge at B&N the other day and can’t wait to read it! It looks fantastic!

    1. Aw, thanks for grabbing it, Kathleen! I LOL’d at the elephants pushing strollers. Now I’m totally going to be looking for that. I usually see crocodiles. Not sure what that says about me!

  5. Maria, what an incredible gift your connection to PJ sounds! Those mysterious bonds are so powerful–he’s lucky, and so are you! I definitely can see how poignant it must be when any time together comes to an end. 🙁

    And how beautifully put…like the scent of flowers! Exactly.

  6. Lorelei B. says:

    I would grab any joy to experience it and be part of my life, even if it’s to let it go. The memory will always remain.
    Happy 4th of July everyone!
    Can’t wait to read your book and that’s for the opportunity to win!
    Gotta run! The kids are calling. They are taking hubby and I somewhere and we don’t know where it is! I can’t even guess! Will let you know 😉

  7. Kirsten, that’s such an amazing story! And what a frightening, absolute barrier…that he would be in the country only a short time. Hard to take a risk that big!!

    I’m sure you were right to follow your instincts, and your inner voice. But I can also imagine how haunting the “what if” scenarios could be! I wonder if someday, when you least expect it, you might run into him again… As some writer whose name I’ve forgotten said, a door that opens once might do so again. Or maybe the *real* adventure you’re meant for is completely different! That’s the joy of life, isn’t it? The thrill of what might be around the corner!

  8. Lorelei, love your “seize the day” attitude! You’re right, of course, that memories are so precious! Banking a great one is like banking a hoard of diamonds…or roses…or whatever brings you joy!

    Have fun today! How wonderful to have children who love you enough to plan an adventure to surprise you! Be sure to let us know what it was!

  9. Melody May says:

    I think it’s important to grab joy whenever you can. Even if it doesn’t last forever, we should grab what we can.

    1. Melody, you have a point…even for the luckiest of us, “joy” doesn’t come knocking every day. It does seem risky to say no to any chance, doesn’t it? Hope your day is full of both those fleeting, beautiful joys AND the ones that hang around and make themselves at home! 🙂

  10. eap says:


  11. Great column, Kathleen. It seems so much harder to slow down and be present in the moment, even as we’re paradoxically surrounded by the thousands of fleeting bits and bytes that come to us care of the internet age. Funny, that. I’m trying to filter out the junk in order to concentrate on those moments that, no matter how fleeting, enhance our lives and spirits. Like a beautiful bird song, a blooming rose bush, or a good conversation with a friend.

  12. Eap, rainbows are the absolute first on my list of beloved ephemeral things! They’re perfect, and they’re nothing we foolish, selfish, jaded humans can do to spoil them! 🙂

  13. Vanessa, the irony of trying to find a quiet moment of deep appreciation at the same time we’re trying to grab every byte of new stimulation is exactly what I was thinking about when I wrote this! The other day, I heard someone interviewed about education who said that, in the digital age, perhaps “knowing” is actually obsolete. While I took his point, all I could think was…oh, I hope *feeling* is never rendered obsolete! Luckily, I’m pretty sure it never will be for those of us who read romance! 😀

  14. chey says:

    I would grab the joy.

  15. Chey, you’re one of the daring ones! I envy that certainty! I always *hope* I’d be the one who just eagerly goes for it, but I’m never sure my wussy side won’t win the day! 😉

  16. Gayle C says:

    Lovely blog.
    I like temporary things, and truly nothing lasts forever, so I enjoy it while it is here. Some of my favorite memories are fleeting moments.
    My daughter has always collected paper napkins from school parties, and birthdays ever since kindergarten. We made her a folder, so she could hold on to those temporary things a minute longer.
    Congratulations, on the new book.

    1. Gayle, I love it that your daughter is already an ephemera collector! 🙂 My mom would definitely approve! She’ll have a lovely memory associated with each napkin–do you put in a little note next to each one, so that she can still place them, even after years go by? What a treasure chest that will be someday!

  17. Shana Shana says:

    Lately it seems like sleep is ephemeral.

  18. Cindy Kirk Cindy Kirk says:

    “ephemeral”— I learned a new word today!

    When I used to mow the yard I always took a few minutes to sit on the porch and admire how it looked…all green and perfectly manicured.

    I knew it was only temporary and that in a couple of days, it would start to look as if it needed cutting…again!

    1. Oh, Cindy, I wish you would give His Highness some lessons in taking time to appreciate a job well done! Whenever we work on the yard, and I want to bask in how awesome we are for a few minutes, his gaze is roaming the hedges and flowerbeds, looking for the next chore that needs to be done! I always say, “Can’t we just be happy at what we’ve accomplished, just for a minute? Please??”

  19. bn100 says:

    maybe, rainbows

    1. 😀 DEFINITELY rainbows, bn100!!! They’re the best!

  20. Quilt Lady says:

    Maybe at one time I would have grabbed for the joy but now not so much! I guess I am getting to old. I have been watching the rain all day but now I am ready for some sunshine but its not going to happen for a few days.

    1. Maybe it’s not a matter of age, Quilt Lady, but of experience? Once we’ve seen a couple of these fleeting joys turn into lingering regret, we’re a lot less likely to just jump now and look later! 😉 But I’m especially sympathetic about the rain situation! I’m in Central Florida, and we’ve had rain every single day for ages! Down here, we really need our afternoon cool-down from the rain, but ENOUGH!!! 🙂

  21. Thank you for your post and giveaway, Kathleen. Wow, what a question! In my religion, everything is ephemeral. Human life, nations, civilizations, the world. Even the universe won’t last forever. Astrophysics says the same thing. Have any of you heard of the Big Crunch?

    But I understand what you’re getting at. So among the things that are even more ephemeral than most, my favorite would be my cats when they’re kittens. So cute, so funny, so adorable. But watch out for those little needle-like claws!

    Good luck with the release of “Betting on the Cowboy”!

    1. Mary Anne, baby anything is fabulous! And baby kittens are really just too cute to believe! 🙂 If I didn’t have to be productive every now and then, I could spend all day on youtube watching baby owls, hamsters, pigs, hedgehogs, etc. wriggle and squeal. 🙂

  22. CateS says:

    Grab any joy that comes your way, you never know what’s around the corner.

    1. Cate, you’re so right! When I was a kid, I used to jump up and down with delight if I happened to be the first one to slice into the smooth surface of a new jar of jelly! LOL…my mom (who probably was thinking, “Have I given birth to a simpleton?”) told me she was pretty sure I wouldn’t ever lack for happiness in my life. And she was right! I look for every chance to be delighted, and, when I do, those chances seem to come around pretty easily!

  23. LOL, Shana! I know exactly what you mean! A night that doesn’t last long enough isn’t quite the joy a rainbow can be, is it?

  24. catslady says:

    Got a baseball game in but now it is really storming so it doesn’t look good for any fireworks!

    1. Catslady, I hope you got enough clear sky to have a few fireworks! We had hours of rain and storming here, but it cleared just in time for us to jump in the pool and set off a few minor sparkles in the back yard. That and the kids are all I need to call it a grand day! 😎

  25. Ann s. says:

    I adore snowflakes, it is amazing that each one is different, just like people.

    1. Snowflakes!!!! As a Florida gal, I obviously didn’t even think of them! But they are absolutely perfect…gorgeous, unique, and so poignantly brief!

  26. Kathryn in Montreal says:

    I love ephemeral things… to me, they are part of a daydream, a what if…wishes! I say go for it… life is too short to wonder what may have been.

    1. Kathryn, I know exactly what you mean. Regretting a chance not taken can feel so painful…and regret can last far too long. Definitely NOT ephemeral!

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