“When I am weary and cannot sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep. And I fall asleep counting my blessings,” are the lyrics of a Bing Crosby song from “White Christmas.” The sentiments expressed in the song pretty much sum up my feelings at Thanksgiving time.
It seems to me that I sometimes get caught up in the cares of everyday living and overlook all that I have and concentrate on what I don't have. Fortunately, those times are few in number and short of duration. I have tried to live my life in an “attitude of gratitude.” I try to give thanks each day for all that I have.
This morning it was the fresh snow, cold weather, the mountains covered in snow, my dogs cavorting in the snow, good friends and another day of life.
We live in such a beautiful region. Most of us are treated to vistas of mountains covered by pine and spruce trees with a cap of snow. Each of us probably has a view of a brightly colored sunrise or sunset. Many days we are treated to the sight of streams winding along the plains. Hardy cottonwood trees delineate the reach of the streams. Some of the cottonwoods are upstanding and healthy; others show the rigors of a tough life with gnarled limbs, broken tops and dead gray branches.
We live in an area so rich in wildlife. It is a rare day when we drive outside the cities and towns in which we live that we don't see mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope, wild turkey and Canada geese. (Sometimes we don't even need to leave town to see the aforementioned wildlife). At least a few times each year we can report to friends that we saw elk, bighorn sheep, wild horses, bear, coyotes, bald eagles, golden eagles and sandhill cranes. Seldom do we venture out of doors when we don't see pheasants in the fields and mallard ducks on the waters.
In the spring we are blessed with the trumpeting calls of sandhill cranes, the raucous cackling of rooster pheasants, the uplifting songs of meadowlarks, the morning wake-up calls of robins and the ghost-like sounds of Wilson snipes. Each pond has a chorus of frogs and trills of red-winged blackbirds.
The land gives us a bounty of wildflowers from the first harbingers of spring such as Hood's phlox, Easter daisies and sagebrush buttercups to later spring bloomers like Indian paintbrush, harebells, white penstemons, one-sided penstemons and cowboy's delight.
Early summer brings yuccas, Indian blanket flowers, purple coneflowers, pincushion cacti, prickly pear cacti and morning glories. Each wildflower reminds me of the beauty and intricacy of this living world and what a miraculous thing that life is.
Every fall I am grateful for the wild game that I have harvested. The birds and mammals that I have taken will sustain my wife, friends and me for another year.
Every fish that I take home will grace our table and enrich our bodies.
The most important blessings in my life are the people that I love dearly: my wife Carol; my sons Clint and James; my daughter-in-law Stephanie; granddaughters Lily and Brooke; my sister Kathy; my mother; and a host of friends that I dare not mention for fear of omitting someone. My family and friends enrich my life and give quality to my life. I thank God daily for all of them and for giving me life.
As I walk about each day and recite my litany of things to be grateful for, I can't help but remember those who have passed on who taught me so much and gave breadth, depth and merriment to my life. I am thankful for having been given a wonderful brother, Jim, who left this world all too soon. I am thankful for a loving, caring and sharing father who left this world in 2008. I am grateful for the life lessons that Sam Mavrakis and Alma Snell gave me. I am grateful to have worked with Mark Henckel for 30 years; he taught me a lot about writing and sticking up for the common man.
This Thanksgiving, take some time to reflect on all that you have been blessed with and, after the Thanksgiving feast, maybe you will fall asleep counting your blessings.