Gratitude (noun) The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. From the Latin, gratis, meaning, “pleasing,” “thankful”
As one year transitions into the next, I like to stop and take time to appreciate the gifts of the year about to pass before I make my list of hopes, dreams and resolutions for the year to come. (If you can’t stop and appreciate where you’ve been, you won’t really be able to appreciate where you’re going either.)
So here’s my list of gratitudes from 2014:
- Not Moving My move in 2013 didn’t involve going far, but it meant downsizing from half a block of property and 2,400 square feet of living space, a two-car garage, and 1,600 square feet of Richard’s studio. Figuring out what stuff I needed, what I wanted, and what would fit into my 725 square feet of new house with its detached single-car garage, 192 square feet of workshop and 384 square feet of studio above the garage/workshop was complex and emotionally draining. (My home, studio and workshop space equals 31 percent of what I had before.) It meant sorting through almost 29 years of “us” (Richard and me) for “me” and this new solo life.
A fall evening in my living room, with the mountains rising over town in the distance.
- My House I love Creek House, and its companion garage/workshop/studio, Treehouse. When I moved in last year, neither building was finished. Both places are now–okay, I’m still doing some customizing of details, but that’s because I can and I enjoy the work. (Thanks, Natural Habitats and all of my sub-contractors!) My two little buildings just as cozy, efficient, light-filled and comfortable as I imagined. The sun provides the bulk of my heat in winter; down-valley breezes keep the buildings cool in summer. And I get a check from the electric company every month for the clean power produced by my photovoltaic panels. (Thanks, Peak Solar Designs!)
My own restored prairie yard, just one summer after planting, attracted all four species of hummingbirds that migrate through my valley. That’s the power of restoring habitat!
- Meaningful Work My more-than-halftime job this year involved starting up the Be a Habitat Hero project. The project’s mission is dear to my inner restoration ecologist: Grow a network of habitat for pollinators and songbirds in gardens, parks and public spaces across the Rocky Mountain region and restore our joy in nature every day. I got to teach with Lauren Springer Ogden, passionate plantswoman and designer of great gardens and wildscapes; and work with Connie Holsinger, visionary founder of the program, and Sienna Bryant, social media coordinator extraordinaire. The Habitat Hero project has great partners in Plant Select® and High Country Gardens, and starting next month, it will become part of Audubon Rockies. Which brings me to my fourthgraditude:
- #AmWriting I’ll be writing full-time in 2015 (okay, I’ll teach a few more Habitat Hero workshops, including two with Lauren). I’m already seeing the benefits: Bless the Birds, my memoir-in-revision, is going deeper and moving toward the universal, how we become the people we are and what that means about what we bring to this life. My columns for Zone 4 Magazine (soon to be renamed Rocky Mountain Gardening) and Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens are benefiting from my creative focus too.
- Red My truck. Yeah, I know that sounds silly, but not when you see Red as a metaphor for finding myself in this solo life. I’ve been camping in Red (in weather so cold the topper windows frosted up on the inside); I’ve taken Red up a few Jeep roads, and Red and I have even braved the congestion of downtown Denver together. I smile just climbing into Red. My shiny red truck is my companion in exploring new routes, literal and figurative.
- My Community All of you: my family, spread now from the West Coast to Germany; the fabulous small town where I live; my fellow writers, plant and garden geeks and nature-lovers; my friends far and near; all who read this blog and my books and articles, who befriend and inspire me on social media, via letters and emails, and in the community of the digital world; my antepasados (ancestors) in writing, science and spirit; all who love this world and see the possibilities in the human spirit. Thank you. In a year that has had more than its share of death, pain, tragedy and suffering, you give me hope. You keep the flame burning. I am grateful for each of you.
- This Planet It may be battered by wars, global warming, overpopulation, and all manner of other ills, but Earth is still the best planet we know, a glorious web of life and lives, blue and green and red and yellow and purple and black and brown and orange; spotted, striped, with legs or wings or fins or roots and leaves…. Every day, I wake up marveling that I get to live here and that I am alive to appreciate it.
Just an ordinary dawn here on Earth….
Blessings to you all!