I hope everybody had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. There are two times a year I am guaranteed to look back on my life to ponder the supposed progress of my character. One of those times is around the end of November, where Thanksgiving finds its home nestled within the 22nd and 28th of the eleventh month. I am in Europe this Thanksgiving and will unfortunately not be able to partake in the family get together, and although 2018 has been a bit of a roller coaster ride relative to most other years, I still look back and thank my many lucky stars.
Looking back, this year was indeed a bit out of the ordinary. At the cave we experienced the earliest excessive water event since my family has been there. Such inundations do occur, albeit confined to the lower portions and stream of the cave. They naturally fill with water to a certain extent every year, but to begin with a January snowmelt was a bit ridiculous. Hauling five-gallon buckets to rinse the formations and decking isn’t my idea of a great time. With the heavy rains we had this year in Fillmore County, you can bet it wasn’t the last time the lower chambers needed this attention. It’s stressful and a hassle, but I am thankful for the extra (excessive?) family bonding time.
May was particularly challenging. The community where I grew up part-time was ground zero as fissures opened under houses and lava destroyed the homes of many friends and neighbors leaving little but a scarred landscape. I felt both devastated and thankful as the volcanic eruption of Kilauea on Hawaii Island raged for two months. Devastated by losing a place close to my heart, my community, my Leilani, and thankful that the community members were safe and keen to help those who lost everything.
There’s still so much to be thankful for.
I’m thankful to the good farmers who make Thanksgiving possible every year, not to mention every meal of every day. I’m thankful for my teachers and coaches for providing the lessons I needed and showing me the tools I already possessed but didn’t know how to use, all so I could examine this world we live in with my own eyes. I’m thankful for our police officers for keeping our towns and roads safe every day, night, and holiday. I’m thankful for our mail service men and women who facilitate the exchange of letters with my friends.
I’m thankful for the cashiers at the local grocery for staying late on a holiday so a last minute bag of potatoes can be purchased before the family arrives. I’m thankful for the nurses, the doctors, and first responders who are always on call on holidays, because misfortune never rests. I’m thankful for the local bank and their staff for assisting me with the mortgage on my home and helping with my accounts when I travel. I’m thankful for the carpenters for new windows ensuring a warmer home (next year?). I’m thankful for the electricians for getting the power back on after every storm. I’m thankful for the plumbers who ensure me my facilities will be able to handle my extended family, post-Thanksgiving dinner.
I’m thankful for my neighbors for not getting too upset when I don’t get my lawn mowed as often as I would like, or having opposing political signs in my yard. I thank them for being a part of the community I call home. I thank them for being the community and being home. I thank my high school friends for sharing with me their lives, even as we grow older and regretfully see each other less. The impact they’ve made on my life is incredible beyond words. I’m thankful for my new friends who are fighting to keep the beautiful Driftless beautiful and clean and healthy and good. I’m thankful for my family and partner for always believing in me, always being there for me, and always just wanting me to be happy.
And for those I missed, I’m thankful for you and everything that you do for our communities and region.