Wednesday, November 24, 2010

#81 - Giving Thanks

I originally envisioned drafting this from our fifth-wheel  overlooking Brownlee Reservoir in the Hells Canyon area near the Idaho-Oregon border. Alas, winter picked Thanksgiving week to make an early appearance, shelving those plans.

Still, I have plenty to be thankful for this year. First and foremost, of course, are my wife, Teresa, and our son, Christopher. They give me roots when before I really had none.

Second are my friends, including all of the people I've reconnected with or stayed connected with through Facebook. Over the years, I have crossed paths with a great many people, and it still blows my mind to think that some of them want to stay in touch, even if only now and then.

I'm thankful to have a job and not to have a great deal of debt. From the news stories, that makes me more fortunate than many.

Tomorrow, we'll join millions of other Americans in sitting down to a Thanksgiving dinner, in our case turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, homemade bread, and pie. Then, we'll probably join millions of other Americans in settling down to the traditional after Thanksgiving dinner nap.

I hope you find plenty to be thankful for this year, and I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

#80 - Seasonal Musings

It's been a while since I posted and thought I should, if only for my own satisfaction. I often don't know if anyone reads these posts, and at some level, I suppose it doesn't matter. I write as much for me as for anyone else.

With the elections come and gone, I am forced to finally admit that it is autumn. I've been trying to deny it as long as I can, but the signs are now everywhere.

The first sign came a few weekends ago when we winterized the fifth wheel, draining the hot water heater, blowing air through the water lines, a putting some RV antifreeze into the tanks. Not that big a job but a sure indicator that warmer weather has moved on.

The biggest indicator, of course, would be all of the leaves on the ground. Everywhere I look I see the signs of one life cycle giving way to the next. Spring and autumn are, I suppose, the most visual indicators of the circle of life. Spring rings in the new while autumn rings out the old.

As I get older, I think my feelings about the seasons are changing, Spring and summer are now my favorites, and not solely because of the warmer weather. Although that is a plus.

Spring brings new life, and for me represents a season for new hope, new opportunity, and new possibility. Summer seems like the prime of the year, the time when those new possibilities have their greatest chance for realization.

I do still enjoy autumn for the colors and the crispness of the air that comes without it being too cold. On the other hand, autumn feels like turning a corner and a sense that if those new possibilities of spring have not yet been realized, they won't be, at least not this year.

I think winter used to be my favorite season of the year. As child living in Mojave Desert, winter was the one time of year when you could count on temperatures being comfortable. Later, as a teen growing up in the Seattle area, winter seemed to bring with it the solitude I often craved.

Now, as I near another birthday, winter seems more a time of endings. As one ages, endings take on a more serious meaning, a greater sense of finality. Perhaps that is why I don't enjoy winter as much as I once did. Or perhaps it is simply that I am less able to deal with the cold. Either way, winter seems to me more stark than the other seasons, which is beautiful in its own way, but a month of it is enough for me.

Beyond that, however, I suspect one reason I don't enjoy winter as much as I used to has to do with the increased commercialization of the holidays and the massive sales pushes that begin to take place as soon as Labor Day has come and gone.

This is the time of year for doom and gloom stories about the retail sector, as so many businesses have come to rely on the holiday shopping season for the bulk of their yearly earnings. The phrase dealing with putting one's eggs all in one basket comes to mind.

The commercial aspect of the holidays has long overshadowed other aspects. For me, though, the holidays are more about getting together with friends and family. Perhaps if I can hold on to that aspect of things winter won't seem quite so gloomy.