Ranger Kathryn's Arches

November 24, 2011

41 thankfulnesses

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 7:43 am
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If ever there were a holiday begging the use of the noun, “paean” — (don’t just read that unusual word, look it up!) — it is Thanksgiving. My all-time favorite holiday. One which begs us to pause, ditch the bad attitude, shake out the taking-for-granted, resolve to quit complaining for an hour or a day or a month, lay down our entitlement, see the blessings that just might take our breaths away if we but looked for them.

My children and parents top the list. I’ve missed them so while I’ve been out west, some moments feeling like a heart-burst is imminent. However, there are thousands of things we can be thankful for. As a spiritual discipline, I’ve been compiling an exceedingly arbitrary list of a few other blessings. I’d love to hear your own additions in the ‘comments’ section — on ANY day you read this, not just Thanksgiving.

  • spelling bees
  • the fresh honesty of young children
  • National Park quarters (American currency — new series)
  • jigsaw puzzles and the conversations shared over them
  • the look in a friend’s eyes when they feel deeply understood
  • soap
  • Aurora borealis
  • church bells pealing
  • National Geographic magazines
  • the fact that we can see so many colors
  • folks who go out of their way to be kind
  • melody, harmony, dissonance
  • fingernails as useful ends for our digits
  • the multiple ways one can stay in touch with far-away people
  • dark chocolate, oh yessirree…
  • zippers
  • Arts & Crafts architecture and furniture
  • healing after divorce
  • clouds’ amazing diversity and their entertaining shapes
  • silence
  • a bookshelf filled with classics
  • daring to hope against all odds
  • county fairs
  • really good hugs
  • accents — foreign and domestic
  • animal tracks
  • forgiveness received, forgiveness extended
  • seasons that smell different from each other
  • incisors
  • ‘Olive,’ my reliable car
  • handwritten letters, always from the heart
  • infrastructure
  • homemade bread, homegrown vegetables
  • young animals of every species
  • being okay with wrinkles and a flawed body
  • surprise visitors from afar
  • answered prayer
  • love poems, even (or especially) when you’re not in love
  • B&W photography
  • smiling contagiously just for the heck of it
  • pipe organs, cellos and French horns

Think outside the box: what are a couple of things your heart is grateful for?

April 5, 2011

Heart check

I was walking up Winter Camp Wash with another volunteer to look for old and new raptor nests. This is a drainage system below the most famous arch of all, and I had never seen Delicate Arch from this angle before. Camera ever ready, I tried to get all artsy-fartsy and blur the arch while focusing on the foreground plants, but I didn’t quite have the know-how to compose it properly. Still, it was fun.

This was one of those mornings when I pinched myself. “I get to do what? Hike into remote corners of this park and look for birds? Be immersed in nature? Perform data collection that will improve wildlife policies? Hear the peregrine falcon’s cry? Peer through good binoculars? Feel the sun and breezes on my face as I am surrounded by gorgeous red rocks? Watch Great Blue Herons in love?”

Springtime: my favorite season. Its cyclical representation of new beginnings brings hope and joy. When I see Red-tailed Hawks courting, or Great Blue Herons choosing their rookery spot together, a small twinge of wistfulness creeps in as I recall what it was like to share life with someone who adored me and would bring me my heart’s equivalent of the perfect twig for my nest. It’s healthy that I acknowledge the tiniest molecule of melancholy before I count the fathomless blessings of my very happy life.

You know, if love is not on the scene, I’ll take the second-best thing: dark chocolate.

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