I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, October 12, 2014

An attitude of gratitude

In the High Country in front of Larrabee Mountain
Al took this picture of me last Thursday. It was such a beautiful day that I think I will remember it as being one of the finest fall days I've ever had up in the Mt. Baker wilderness. I've just begun my eighth year with the Senior Trailblazers; I started hiking with them in late September 2008, and now the hikes and the way things change from season to season have become familiar and cherished.

Tomorrow, October 13, is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. They celebrate on the second Monday in October, while we in the US celebrate on the fourth Thursday in November. October seems reserved for Halloween on this side of the border. I see decorations everywhere for it, and I guess pumpkins and ghouls are appropriate displays for the season. I've got a blogging friend who decorates her entire house with spider webs and sparkly witches and posts pictures of them for the enjoyment of her followers. I'm glad she does it so I can enjoy it, since I'm not much for doing it myself.

Thanksgiving, however, is a favorite holiday, because I have the chance to contemplate all the things that I enjoy and am grateful for. First of all, I am grateful for my health and my ability to spend time in nature and then enjoy the feeling of being tired after a day in the wilderness. I am definitely hooked on it, and I look forward to my Thursdays, rain or shine, to play outside. The coming week, however, is bringing lots of rain to this part of the country, and in the High Country, the precipitation probably will be in the form of snow. That means the spot where I am standing will be covered with white and will become inaccessible in a few short weeks. Until next year, that is.

I am also grateful for the abundance and variety of foods I have available. Yesterday I harvested the last of the broccoli from my garden and began to prepare my plot for the winter. As I ate the steamed broccoli with my dinner yesterday, I marveled at the fact that it was grown right in my back yard and tasted better than anything I could have purchased at the store. It's taken awhile for me to appreciate vegetable gardening, since I was such a novice at it two years ago, but I've already got all kinds of plans for my little space next spring. I'll plant some garlic before I put it to bed, but otherwise I'm just about done for the year. I look around at my neighbor's plots to see what they've done to get ready for winter and I've learned quite a lot.

I am grateful for my community of friends. We just got a new neighbor in our downstairs apartment and will be learning more about the single woman who has moved in. I went down yesterday and introduced myself; she's just moving into Bellingham after living on a boat on Whidbey Island for the past several years. Her daughter lives here and is expecting; she'll be around to enjoy her grandchild. I already like her and am so grateful that I've got another "woman of a certain age" to get to know. That's a relief; I hope she stays for a long time.

Yesterday I enjoyed coffee after my walk with the Fairhaven walking group, and we laughed and carried on like a bunch of teenagers as we sat at the round table and talked about our lives. Two of the women are also gardeners, and they gave me some tips about how to prepare the garden for the winter. We discussed the pros and cons of planting a cover crop; I'll have to research that. When we arrived at the coffee shop, it was pouring rain outside, but when we left, all the clouds were gone and the sun felt strong and warmed us as we made our way to our individual cars. I love these women and know some of them from my hiking group, too. In fact, it was Peggy and Linda who kept encouraging me to join the Saturday walking group, but I resisted at first. I didn't think I could walk that fast and enjoy it, but now I look forward to it every Saturday. And I'm much faster than I was when I first started.

I'm also very grateful that I have the ability to write. Although the writing I do every Sunday morning is a bit "seat of the pants" stuff, I find that it gives me enormous pleasure to sit with my laptop in the early morning and pound the keys, with hopes that somebody will find what I write enjoyable. I never tried to gather followers for this blog, but more than a hundred people follow it, and I look forward to your comments very much. I learn something every week from you. What a fine community I share with my fellow bloggers! To think that a few short years ago I didn't even know that this community existed and now it's an essential part of my life. I am fortunate indeed.

I decided I'm going to write some short biographies of my friends here in Bellingham. It was an idea that came to me in the middle of the night, and I thought about how much I'd like to know the history of some of the people I only know in one context. I've already interviewed my fisherman friend Gene and my hiking friend Rita, and now I've got to spend some time distilling the information into just the right amount. Then I'll run it past them before publishing (probably on my other blog) to make sure they are happy with it. Just the week after I made the decision to do it, I got a call from the local newspaper to see if I would be willing to be interviewed about my skydiving career. It will be for their Prime Time bimonthly magazine that covers the activities of seniors in the area. Another one of those serendipitous happenings, don't you think? Anyway, I'm excited and looking forward to it. I wonder if they will give me a chance to see what they write before it goes public. It's the right way to do it, if you ask me.

Yep, I've got a lot to be grateful for, and I've only scratched the surface! There's my family and my partner, good books to read, my warm and cozy apartment, and much more that doesn't seem to be bubbling up to the surface right now. My tea is gone and I'm beginning to think about getting up and starting my Sunday, now that my self-imposed contemplation of life has been accomplished. I do hope you find yourself in an "attitude of gratitude" this week, as the fall season moves us ever closer to winter's dark days.

Remember we have each other, and on the other side of the planet, it's moving ever closer to summer! Another blogging friend has been posting pictures from Canberra of the daffodils sprouting in her garden. It's always wine o'clock in some part of the world, and spring and summer too. Be well until next Sunday when we'll chat again.


Marty said...

What probably feels like Sunday ramblings to you always trigger some sort of thought for me. Listing blogging as one of the things for which you're grateful hit home. I don't know which I appreciate more - the chance to connect with people I otherwise never would, or having a spot to park those observations and reminisces that pop into my head.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Good Morning...Happy Sunday to you! I am thankful for you! How wonderful that you will be interviewed in the paper...I am certain it will be interesting!
I hope you have a wonderful week:)

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Good morning to you. Before commenting on today’s post a couple of words about your January 24, 2010, post entitled “How I became a skydiver”. I like the way you list a few posts of special interest on your home page. I’ve wondered about how you became a skydiver but just today noticed the post on How. It’s a fascinating story. In some respects I wish I had read it about 40 years ago. It’s so interesting just to sit and think about how something like that might have been a life changing event and possibly changing the outlook on so many things. I really like the way you describe moving through the initial fears and then becoming so proficient that you made 301 jumps in your first full year of skydiving. I know that in recent posts you’ve mentioned that you may be near the end of jumping. It sounds like the fun you’ve had will make ending as challenging as getting started. Thanks for sharing your story on skydiving. Now, re today’s post and being grateful … very well done, timely, and an excellent reminder to all of us to take a moment and count our blessings. Just my opinion, of course, but it seems that the human condition usually has us worrying about any problems we have more than being appreciative of what’s going well for us. I like the way you mention the pleasures of gardening, sharing time with friends, and being in good shape for your outings. And, I think all of your followers will agree with you about your writing … it’s excellent! Thank you for sharing your blog and for your kind comments on mine. Wishing you a fine week ahead, John

Linda Reeder said...

DJan, you have made a beautiful life for yourself there in Bellingham. You have much to be grateful for, and much of it thanks to you, yourself.
After feeling a bit low this weekend, I will now work on turning things around and counting my blessings. I have many also.

Anonymous said...

Good to read that you had a bountiful harvest of broccoli and other veggies this year. I prefer broccoli to lettuce any time. Lol.
I love that photo of you.

Folkways Note Book said...

Contemplative Sunday -- what a wonderful way to get into touch with oneself and what to be grateful for. I am presently reading "Journal of a Solitude," by May Sarton -- in it she quotes, solitude, a balance between the need to become oneself and to give oneself... and of course they are closely related." Perhaps you have read this fine book. Looking forward to all your thoughtful posts -- barbara

Gigi said...

You certainly do have much to be grateful for - as do I.

I'm happy to hear about your new neighbor - sounds like a new friend!

How exciting about the magazine article. I hope you will link it once it's published.

Have a beautiful week my friend!

Sally Wessely said...

An attitude of gratitude is one to cultivate. Cultivation of good things in the garden and cultivation of good thankfulness to feed the soul is a practice you do well. Sending love across the net to you. See you soon.

Rian said...

Hi DJan, I'm not fond of spiders or monsters (zombies included) or ghouls for that matter. I can handle pumpkins, crows, and other non-scary critters. When I think of Halloween, I think of little ones dressed up in cute costumes,trick or treat candy, and pumpkin pie! But there are many who are really "into" the scary haunted house themes.

Thanksgiving is a more family oriented holiday - as is Christmas. But that's just my opinion.

Congratulations on the upcoming interview! Keep us updated.

Arkansas Patti said...

Congrats on the interview and I hope they give you approval privileges. You have to promise to send us the link to the story they print.
Realizing things we should be grateful for is a great way to fill the feel-good bank account. I'd say you have amassed quite a nest egg in your account. Keep enjoying.

Red said...

You have a very substantial list of things to be grateful for. We need to be reminded of how fortunate we are. Now what are you going to do when you get to the American Thanksgiving?
Great that you're going to be interviewed. I never worry about what they're going to say. If I give accurate and clear info , they will do their job well.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

We all have things to be grateful for and it's wonderful when we remind ourselves of that - or are reminded by a post like this one. Beautiful!

The Furry Gnome said...

We've all got so much to be thankful for. After some serious illness a few years ago I couldn't possibly keep up on your hikes, but I'm still here loving life. For me every day you're alive is a gift!

Rita said...

I think that's wonderful that you're being interviewed for the paper! Cudos! And I am looking forward to reading all about the friends you have made there. We all have so much to be grateful for. I was feeling kind of brimmed over today, myself. McFamily was here...she says with a big grin. ;) Have a special week.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Of all the concepts I've tried out over the course of my life, from religious or philosophical or self-help sources, keeping an attitude of gratitude seems the most productive and lasting. At first I had to practice every day. Now I mostly just have to remind myself when things seem overwhelming or dark.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, there is such a feeling not only of gratitude--deep and overflowing--but also of tranquility in this posting. Thank you. Peace.

Deb said...

We don't have Thanksgiving here, but I am very grateful for all the wonderful and positive bloggers out there :)

Friko said...

always wine o’clock...
I like that very much; never heard it before.

yes, we have lots to be grateful for, first and foremost: we are alive!

Again and again, when I read your Sunday morning posts, I feel your enthusiasm and zest for life. Keep going, dear DJan, you are doing well.