Pine Nuts: Some of the best medicine on the shelf |

Pine Nuts: Some of the best medicine on the shelf

Most of us have long known from personal experience that humor, laughter and smiling are good for us. So it is reassuring to read Doctor Miller’s assessment: “Heightened stress magnifies the risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes. Having a good sense of humor is an excellent way to relieve stress and anxiety and bring back a sense of normalcy during these turbulent times.”

As it happens, laughter releases nitric oxide, a chemical that relaxes blood vessels, reduces blood pressure and decreases clotting. An epidemiological study of older men and women in Japan confirmed that those who tend to laugh more have a lower risk of major cardiovascular illness. They have a good hearty laugh in Japan when they slip on the ice and fall on their denibu without getting hurt. They get up, dust themselves off, and live to see 100; proof positive that possessing a healthy sense of humor is associated with longer life.

I needed a good laugh this Thanksgiving myself; I got it, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I had baked a pine nut cookie for my Thanksgiving dinner dessert that got a little burnt, and I took half of it out onto the deck to share with my pet jay, Huckleberry. I lit a cigar and made a toast to those special friends I had longed to be with at Thanksgiving, when Huckleberry arrived a little early for Happy Hour. I smiled a knowing smile, and set his special Thanksgiving treat out in front of him. He examined it, walked around it, poked at it with his beak, finally took a bite, and spat it out! Then he looked at me like I had tried to poison him and off he flew.

Well, I had never seen a bird spat before, and thinking of it even now makes me smile. Then too, Huckleberry had never seen me smoke a cigar before, and I imagine he received no little laughter when he shared that incident with his pals back at the Sugar Pine Roost: “You would not believe what Mac E. Boy was doing today out on the deck at Layne Haven. He lit a stick on fire, put it in his mouth, and when I spat out a piece of charcoal, he laughed a billow of smoke right into my eyes. I could hardly see to find my way back home.”

And so, lonesome as I was at Thanksgiving, I was genuinely thankful for the nice cigar a good friend had gifted me, the brief company of my Huckleberry friend, and the collage of comrades I was able to honor with a toast, most of whom remain hale & hearty by playing it safe as possible.

I hope and trust the gentle reader might get engrossed in a good book this week with a little humor built into it. And please don’t feel guilty if you should find yourself laughing during these troubled times. Recognize laughter for what it is…some of the best medicine on the shelf.

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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