Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Day in the Morning

After a calm and relatively warm night I awoke this morning to flashes of lightening and the gentle rumble of distant thunder. Now the wind is gusting, causing the trees to toss and the flag to flap and snap. The air is scented once again with the smoky sweetness of creosote bush. We must have had a light sprinkle for, while the street glistens in the gray dawn, the dirt is my back yard shows no trace of being damp.

I step out the front door to see the world on this Thanksgiving morning. As I open my door I can’t help but wonder what the pilgrims would have thought if they had stepped out into this desert when they arrived. After the lush, foggy dampness of England, this would truly be a foreign experience in more ways than one.

A rock wren’s call rings out as it lands on the street before me. Overhead I hear the whistle of mourning dove wings as they coast in for breakfast at my feeders. Soon all the feeders will be busy with bird life. When the Gila woodpeckers arrive they will announce their presence with laughter-like squeaks. A couple of days ago a Gilded Flicker grasped the cage of the seed cake while Gila woodpeckers feasted at the peanut feeder. It was the first time I'd observed them so close together and I was amazed by their size difference. The flicker is much larger than the woodpecker. House Finches and House Sparrows are still in abundance. I am getting more Lesser Goldfinches right now, and though they don’t come to my feeders, I see Say’s Phoebes in or around my yard almost every day. A form of flycatcher, they eat insects instead of seed.

I have discovered that now is the time of year when my birds need water more than any other. During the summer they were able to get water from irrigation systems or Monsoon rains. It wasn’t unusual then to see birds drinking from irrigation tubes as they dripped their life giving water at the base of trees, bushes and flowers, but now most irrigation has been shut off, and it’s been quite awhile since it has rained. My birdbath is one of the busiest spots in the yard.

As I head back into the house I steer clear of the acacia trees in my front yard as the wind whips their thorny branches. I walk back past the newly hung evergreen wreath on my front door. For me, Thanksgiving is also the beginning of the Christmas season. It's hard to believe it's coming, since yesterday we were still wearing shorts and sandals. However, with this morning's change in weather I am wishing I had a fireplace!

I have so much to be thankful for today. Before the hustle and bustle of baking and cleaning and cooking starts, I pause to reflect on the goodness of life. Like most people I am thankful for family. I have a wonderful husband, great kids, and awesome siblings. I love my in-laws and we are all thankful that Dad is still here to celebrate with us. He’s in the hospital recovering from open-heart surgery right now, but we hope he will be with his family once again by Christmas. I am also thankful for the many wonderful and faithful friends I have across the United states. Everywhere I have lived I have made at least one new friend and each one of you is dear to me. Besides nature and family, friends are what make life worth living.

I am thankful for all the places I’ve lived and the amazing birds I have seen in each place! I’m thankful that someone had the foresight to preserve wild places like Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon and Saguaro National Park. I’m glad they are not paved over with million dollar mansions with million dollar views that only billionaires can see.

And, I am thankful to be alive. I am grateful to my son and all of the military who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. I pray for their safety this morning and hope that we can bring them all home soon.

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