The Month of Thanks - From My Window

Janie Thibodeau Martin

The “official” holiday this month is on the 23rd, but it’s good to notice and appreciate little things every day. Sometimes I forget, and I soon notice the difference in my mood.

Practicing gratitude is especially important as we enter the “dark months” of winter, and while I might not have the beautiful wildflowers of summer or stunning leaves of fall to fill me with gratitude, there’s still a lot to be seen on my walk that brings joy.

This morning, I walked the edge of the horse pasture through the frost-crisped grass. Much to my surprise, I spotted a dandelion flower. It was smaller than normal, and flat against the ground rather than upright, but unmistakably a bloom. You have to admire the dandelions, first out in spring and, this year at least, the last to surrender despite several hard frosts. A model of resiliency to emulate.

My raspberry patch was producing about a quart of berries a day through the first few frosts but two days of 20 degree dawns finally did them in. The branches are still loaded with big berries, but frozen as hard as the ones stored in my freezer for winter pies. Last year I cut down my two year old canes in fall, but this year I’ll leave that task until late winter. I bet this bounty of frozen fruit will be relished by the birds, rodents and maybe even the deer.

Hybrid bushes are a marvel to me, since I grew up picking tiny wild raspberries that fell apart when touched. While most of the trees have shed their leaves, oaks hold theirs tightly until mid-winter.

They can’t compete with the bright yellow and reds of their hardwood neighbors in October, so they wait out that show. Now, they are the stars of the woods, with leaves shading from cocoa brown to rich mahogany and bright chestnut. A little less flamboyant, yes; but beautiful in their own way, and I appreciate them when I look out the window.

Underneath the oaks, a bumper crop of acorns. I always pick a few up just to marvel at the amazing design. Each is a potential baby tree, packaged for survival of the long tumble from a treetop and the pending harsh winter weather. The acorn’s smooth sides, burnished brown color, and adorable little cap on top are beautifully engineered. I know the wild ones appreciate this bounty of food, and I also appreciate that they are so numerous this year that certainly a few will escape being eaten and be birthed as baby oaks. Hopefully those babies will grow up to be enjoyed by a walker to come, decades after I have passed by here for the last time.

The corn field to our north was harvested this weekend, and my walk along the edge revealed lots of waste corn. Modern harvesting equipment is amazingly efficient; all the same, there are cobs and kernels scattered between the rows. The harvested corn goes into the food production cycle for humans; but the wild ones will benefit as well. In January we will see deer and turkeys pushing under the snow and finding the fuel they need to keep warm. I am grateful for the benefits to both humans and wild ones in this good harvest.

There are snow flurries as I write this, and I am ready. All my serious winter clothing is out of storage, and while I prepare the outside of my body for the challenge of winter walking, I have also prepared my mind to see different things to be grateful for as I walk.

I aspire to be as enchanted and excited on my walks as the dogs are. They always discover something fascinating, lingering over the smells and stopping to listen to things I can’t always hear. They set a fine example of finding things worthy of notice on the walks, and I am inspired to match their enthusiasm.

As I return to the house, I pass through the garage, and note it is the “garage is now an auxiliary refrigerator” season again. Just one more thing to be grateful for.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address:


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