Being Thankful

copyright sara healy (click to enlarge)

The Challenge: Sharing thanks

It’s almost Thanksgiving in the States. This is a holiday based around “repeats,” meaning we usually repeat the same meal every Thanksgiving – turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

Sure, there’s some variation from state to state and home to home, but this Thursday, most Americans will give thanks, eat basically the same meal, and, with bellies full, sleepily watch football. Many of us will repeat the meal the next day stuffed into a sandwich.

I’m offering my own “repeat” this Thanksgiving. A year ago, I wrote a post about writing four-words of thanks. I liked this post. It was fun sharing my own four-word thankful moments and reading the ones left in the comment box. It made me feel, well, thankful:~)

Some of you have already done this challenge. I invite you to try again with the idea of Autumn in mind. If you haven’t done this challenge, give it a go. Make a list of your own four-word thankful moments about Autumn or Thanksgiving via the comment box.

The cool part of doing a “repeat” post is you get to quote yourself:~) Here’s my quote from the first post:

“Sharing thankful moments is like planting seeds for growing a more loving world. Each thankful moment you write sends energy out to others and reading someone’s thankful moments only adds to our own.”  ~ Sara B. Healy

Rule One

There’s only one rule to this challenge, but it’s important! Each line you write about thankful moments must contain only four words!

You can use any style of writing – poetry, free verse, songs, a list/collection – whatever suits your needs, as long as you stick to Rule One.

Here’s my list of “thankful moments” for Thanksgiving, 2011.

Fall Camellias boldly blooming
The recovery of friends
Crisp baby blue skies
A remembered dog’s trust
Cats stretching in sunlight
A lover’s listening ear
Tree leaves on fire
Laughter chasing away tears
Exceptional women for daughters
Ice coated green grass
Chimneys exhaling wood smoke
Words playing effortlessly together
Creative words from readers
Leaves crunching under footsteps
Chicken soup’s comforting smell
Fingers gently massaging shoulders
The thrill of beginnings
The contentment of completion
Drinking spicy apple cider
Football flags wind dancing
Writing words of thanks
Reading words of thanks
The gift of gratitude

Okay, it’s your turn. What are your four-word thankful moments about Autumn or Thanksgiving?

Giving Thanks Naturally

How to Say Thank You

I’ve decided to change my celebration of Thanksgiving this year. Oh, I’ll still gorge on the turkey, dressing, green bean casserole and, my favorite, pecan pie. I’ll still watch the football games and enjoy my family, but today I will also reflect on things I am thankful for and there are many things.

This year, I’m sharing with you words taken from my Nature Journal. I write this journal about the awesome things I see in nature, both in my neighborhood and while sitting in a green rocking chair on my screened porch. These are special moments of joy, laughter and wonder…all produced naturally.

I welcome you to pull up a rocking chair next to mine and use your imagination to see my world through these simple words of thanks to nature.

Words of Thanks

I am thankful for this sunny day. Cool enough to refresh, but warm enough to sit outside and watch the fluffy clouds float by. Over at my neighbors, the wind sets their chimes ringing and it sounds like a wedding. The few leaves still left on the trees shimmer in the sunlight, making me catch my breath from their beauty.

I am thankful for the big brown spider that let me be a hero today. He looked very dead, but I took a chance on him and carefully scooped him up on a piece of paper and took him outside. I reverently put him down prepared to say a prayer when his legs began to move. I turned him over and then watched him scurry away into the bushes.

I am thankful for the flock of geese living by the lake in my neighborhood. They make me stop my car as they cross the road, honking noisily and waddling ever so slowly into the grass on the other side. They make me smile and appreciate a moment of patience.

I am thankful for the ray of late afternoon sun that shines on my bird feeder. It makes the birds flying back and forth seem to glow in the light, like angels flying. This is God‘s beauty right now, right here in this moment.

I am thankful for the flowers blooming in my back yard. They cover the fence with a palette of colors — whites, yellows and reds. At the same time, my trees are showing their own glory. Today there are the  Magnolias with their big busty white flowers and the Crepe Myrtles with their mix of pinks and reds bouquets.They invite both birds and bees to delight.

I am thankful that my birdbath is outside the safety of the screen porch, as I watch a gray squirrel gracefully jump up and with great dignity sip from the water, totally ignoring my cat who rattles her teeth at him and stalks him with her eyes. I am thankful I will not witness them meet, as life and death intended.

I am thankful for the squirrels who entertain me endlessly by leaping from the Crepe Myrtle Tree to my bird feeder, which is about three feet away. They are acrobat “derring do” devils that more often than not slide right off the the feeder’s roof  to fall to the ground, but head back to try again.They are a lesson in persistence!

I am thankful for the first chilly morning, when I let the dog out and wished I had put my socks and a warmer robe on. Today, I realistically envision sitting on the porch with a cup of hot cocoa and both of us making steam with our breath.

I am thankful for my porch and all the many awesome moments I enjoy while sitting in my green rocker.

There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough to pay attention to the story.  ~ Author Unknown

Wild Turkey Time

wild-turkey-picPhoto by Gluzberg Photography

Not Just a Thanksgiving Turkey

Most people think turkeys are dumb birds. Since it’s Thanksgiving, this seems like an appropriate time to talk about the turkey, but not the one that’s usually served on a platter.

I’m referring to the wild turkey that has been around the America’s for over 10 million years; the one that was near extinction and survived to be given the title of “one tough bird”.

When I was a kid, my family spent Thanksgiving at my grandfather’s cattle ranch in Florida. While I wasn’t fond of it, one of the major activities during this holiday was hunting. The Holy Grail for the hunters was to get a wild turkey for their Thanksgiving meal.

This sounds easy enough. After all, most people believe turkeys are dumb birds that can’t fly, and some believe they do stupid things like drown themselves by looking up when it rains.

Yet, when we sat down for our Thanksgiving meal, most times there was no turkey. With their powerful guns and vigilant stalking, the hunters still failed to hunt this bird successfully.

If you are surprised, it’s because you’re basing what you know about turkeys on the domestic turkey. Wild turkeys are very different from domestic turkeys. They are extremely hard to catch. Why, you might ask?

Wild Turkeys are Wily

They are very alert and cautious birds that can run up to 20 miles per hour. They can also fly 55 miles per hour in a matter of seconds, for short distances. Wild turkeys have excellent hearing and vision, with their field of vision being about 270 degrees.

After years of sitting through many turkey-free Thanksgiving dinners, my respect for these smart and wily birds grew. It amazed me how they continued to avoid being served at our dinner table, despite all the determined efforts of the hunters in my family.

To Catch a Wild Turkey

While researching the wild turkey, I discovered a project conducted by the University of Florida to measure the population of wild turkeys in that state. If anything could debunk the “dumb turkey” myth, this study could.

The study was conducted by Dr. Mel Sunquist, an associate professor of wildlife ecology and conservation for the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Dr. Sunquist and the group of students working on the study discovered that capturing wild turkeys was not easy.

Efforts to find and count these birds were not effective. The study participants learned that you can’t just go out and catch a wild turkey. Not only do they see you coming, but they hear you coming from a long way off. The wild turkeys vanish before you can get close enough.

Rocket Power

In order to count the birds, Dr. Sunquist and his students had to be far enough away to not alert them, and yet find a way to capture a large number for counting and banding purposes. They ended up using large rocket-powered nets.

Using corn as bait, they hid and waited until the turkeys came out to feed. Then they used a remote control to fire rockets that released a large net over the turkeys. The turkeys were not injured, and this was the only way the researchers were able to capture an entire flock for banding.

While very effective, this method wasn’t foolproof. Some turkeys still sensed the danger and disappeared.

So, to be clear, the wild turkey isn’t just some dumb bird to be made fun of. According to popular legend, Benjamin Franklin suggested the turkey be named as the national bird for the United States instead of the bald eagle. If there is any truth to this legend, we can certainly see where he was coming from.

Needless to say, some people laugh at this idea, but in my opinion, Ben had it right. The wild turkey may not be as photogenic as the bald eagle, but it is one smart bird, worthy of respect.

Have a happy Thanksgiving :~)