Staring down at a cold morning on Keese Mills Road, the early sun illuminates frosty branches of the trees in the forest. Diamonds of ice glitter in the sun's rays, more magnificent against a brilliant blue sky. It is 18 degrees out there. My bird feeders are jam-packed with chickadees, blue jays, nuthatches and goldfinches. Quiet, except for hearing the tumbling river, I am taking a moment to reflect on the beauty before my eyes. What I feel is gratitude.
I have a cup of hot tea before me and I pause to think of those in the world who are not given the simple luxury of having a cup of tea and a quiet seat by the river. The world is not a kind place for millions of people on our planet. I believe we all need to pause every now and then to think of them, and to feel gratitude for the gifts we share by living here in America, in the tree-filled Adirondack Park, in northern New York State.
I'm not trying to sound preachy or overly-advantaged. I'm not wealthy or young. I have my aches and pains as most my age do. But I do realize how lucky I am, and this time of year opens the door to offering a public sort of thanks for some of the good stuff that fills my life.
Of course I'm grateful for my health, and the health for those in my family. Health is more important than money any day of the week, which we learn immediately when we're not doing as well. And once learned, we never forget to appreciate our good days.
I say thank you to the spirit of the forests, rivers and mountains that envelope me and bring me peace. I am blessed by almost daily contact with animals of the wild: squirrels, birds, deer, foxes, and coyotes all live nearby and call my neighborhood their home.
I'm grateful for my friends and colleagues, especially this year when we hit some hard times and needed a hand. The kindness of folks giving their time and muscle to help us out will always be remembered and appreciated.
I'm grateful for my students, especially those who come to every class with their eyes actually open. They show me they are willing to learn about the slope of a line and the rules of exponents in spite of not liking math very much. Thank you.
On the local front
I'm grateful for the gifts that my Tri-Lakes community offers me, perks that we all enjoy. For example, I can't believe how lucky I feel to live so close to Paul Smith's College VIC, especially with miles of new trails to explore and new events to participate in. I've enjoyed the VIC trails since the long ago time before the center was even created, and I've felt lucky for every decade since. Thank you to Brian McDonnell for his energies and efforts to make it all work.
In town I'm grateful for my haunts, for the places I poke my head into and feel a warm sense of belonging. I'm grateful for the Community Store, the farmers' markets, the Blue Moon cafe, the Left Bank cafe, Books and Baskets, Nori's, the Bean-to, Eat and Meet, Lakeview Deli, BluSeed, Pendragon, and all our small businesses, sub shops, pizza shops, Chinese restaurants, sporting goods shops, and eateries. We are a community first, and we open our doors to friends, neighbors, and visitors. We have big smiles on our faces, and we hold out hopes that we can make a living serving the customers that come by. I say thank you to all our local businesses and the folks who work hard to keep them going. Your efforts are appreciated.
Temporary ending of negativity
On another front, I am extremely grateful that the elections are over. I can't believe how difficult it was to survive the negative campaigning, the ugly diatribes and name-calling we were exposed to for a long, long time. This is the time to heal and to become united once again. The constant barrage of negativity is over, and there is a little peace in its absence.
I'm also grateful for the road improvements in our area. Some of our roads were nasty. The smoother ride has brought a smile to my face more than once. And I'm also grateful to have a great little car that works well in all seasons, and is happy to drive on the new, smoother roads. Thank you to the car mechanics in our neck of the woods, all who work hard to keep our cars safe in a world where we need those cars every day. And once the snow comes, my gratitude for the road crews who keep our roads open is permanent. They are heroes in our environment, and I thank them all.
So that was a quick list of some of my gratitudes for this Thanksgiving time of year. I'm grateful for the wisdom that comes with age, and the courage to share it from time to time. Thank you to the readers of these words, the Enterprise family, and all who take a moment to think about how lucky we are to live in the fabulous Adirondack mountains in the year 2012. Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone. And remember to give a thought to what you're grateful for. It'll make you smile.
Randy Lewis lives in Paul Smiths, and is the author of "Actively Adirondack: Reflections of Mountain Life in the 21st Century," Adirondack Center for Writing's People's Choice Award for Best Book 2007.