I get up each morning and am grateful for the day. I’m thankful for dewdrops on pine needles and cobwebs glimmering in the morning light. I’m thankful that my old rowboat still manages to carry me across still water. I’m thankful for each surprise I find along the way.
This morning I chanced upon a soft-shelled turtle while I was rowing through the shallow water along the eastern shoreline. Surprisingly, the turtle, whose flat, gray shell was about the size and shape of a serving platter, didn’t swim away on my approach. Instead, it stayed still, and so did I. We watched each other for a few minutes until it swam off, and I rowed on. For a brief moment before it left, our two worlds overlapped. I’m thankful for that and for the many other times when my encounters with nature have helped me better understand how other beings live.
I don’t do much traveling yet I feel like I span distances every time I look closely at the smallest creatures. The worlds of spiders, snakes, little green tree frogs, anoles, bees, wasps and butterflies are full of fascinating facts and behaviors. I love watching and learning about often-overlooked creatures and I’m glad I take time — make time — to get to know them better.
A few nights ago, I couldn’t sleep, so I got dressed and went outside. It was a moonless night, but the sky was bright with billions of stars. It made me realize how rarely I go outside at night and when I do, how rarely I look up. But the sky — oh, my! — the sky was amazing. I’m thankful that my restlessness led me outside. I’m thankful that I looked up to see such an inspiring sight.
The world can be an incredibly wonderful place. It can also be scary and, at times, unbearable. News of terrorist attacks, environmental changes, loss of wildlife and destruction of plant habitat can have devastating effects on people who care.
A few months ago, I lost a friend to suicide. Although I may never know why she took her life, I know she was a sensitive person who deeply cared about environmental issues. I miss her and wish she was still here.
With Thanksgiving just a few days away, many of us will be thinking about things that make us grateful. Good health, secure work, a safe place to live, food on the table and loved ones to share it with are all big and important reasons for gratitude.
But they’re not the only reasons. There is gratitude to be gleaned from a spider spinning a web or the sun setting over the horizon. There is peace to be had listening to a bird song or wind blowing through the leaves.
When the woes of the world are too much, nature offers a release. I’m thankful for the little things because they play a big part in putting life’s troubles in perspective.