I woke up in a bad mood. Perhaps too much information, but well, it’s just true and surely it’s also just part of life–a life one often doesn’t read about on social media. Behind the vacation photos and the smiling children and playful pets, we all know that everyone’s life has peaks and valleys.
Luckily, my job this morning is to write my annual Thanksgiving post, and list some things that I am thankful for, a process that we know is a great way to boost one’s mood. I got started by reading some of what I’ve written in year’s past, and that in itself buoyed my spirits. How life has changed since I wrote in 2011 about Willie’s recovering enough from his surgery to be able to play, and in 2015 about the potential publication of my memoir. In 2016 I added a list of things I’m not grateful for, which got me laughing and raised my spirits even more.
Here are a few of the things I am grateful for today:
Jim. This is a man who got up at 5 am in order to make me tea and put it in a thermos bottle, set out cereal, a bowl and milk, and rounded up his rain coat in case mine wasn’t large enough to go over my parka, all to make my pre-dawn drive to a sheepdog clinic easier. He wasn’t going, and there was no reason he couldn’t have stayed in bed, except that he is a good man and a wonderful friend. Lucky, lucky me.
Willie. At the age of 10, Willie still has the face of a puppy, with eyes that light up like a Christmas tree and a face so soft and expectant it makes your heart swell. We have been through so much together, and some of those times have been rough indeed. He and I got through them, and I am better for it. But his face–oh god, his face when he’s happy, it is lit from within, and its radiance warms me like a fireplace on a snowy day.
Maggie. Talented, silly-eared, bendy-body, super-responsive Maggie turned out to be Willie’s best friend. Every night they play tug games with such enthusiasm that we have to pause whatever show we’re watching on TV because we can’t hear over their play growls. There is little that makes me happier than watching dogs play, and I am grateful every day that they play so well together. Maggie makes me laugh every day, and best of all, she seems to adore me and working sheep with me, even when her talent is so very far beyond mine.
Tootsie. Baby-faced, infinitely adorsable Toots reminds me every day of how lucky I am that we can provide a good home to a dog who lived her first seven years of life in a cage the size of a picnic cooler. Tootsie’s ears spin like helicopter blades when she flips in circles while anticipating her Greenie (the cocaine of dog treats), and it is impossible not to laugh when she gets that excited. Tootsie is cuddly, 99.999% reliable around anyone, but also going deaf and is increasingly fragile. I think I love that she bring out the momma lion in me; I would move mountains to protect her.
Nellie and Polly. Nellie is all hyper-social head bunt-y and leg rubb-y, while her daughter Polly, the ghost cat, took longer to warm up to us, even when she arrived as a kitten. I adore having cats; I just wish I wasn’t allergic to them. Maybe I’ll put “treating cat allergies” on my To Do List for 2019.
The Sheep. Sheep are wonderful animals, truly. They are not stupid, nor are they defenseless. They’re just not predators like dogs, cats and humans, and don’t think or act like them. I love how they teach me to think outside of the box, and force me to be a better observer of small, subtle signals. This spring we get to have lambs again, and like the bulbs I’ve planted (300 new ones just this fall), anticipating them in spring helps me through the winter.
The Earth. She’s hanging in there, although we’re not helping her much. But I am grateful every day to the people who are fighting for her health, in spite of the powerful forces that care little for clean water, soil and air. This afternoon I’ll spend some time outside digging in the garden, savoring the trees and the sky and the birds. I am beyond grateful that I live in the country and am able to spend time outside every day in a beautiful place.
Yup, just as I thought. Feeling better already. And you? Every year I cherish reading what you are grateful for. Last year we all wrote about what we were grateful for, and also NOT grateful for. (One of mine was the sound of a dog about to vomit.) So go crazy, send us your list, short or long. I’ll read them every day with more gratitude than I can express, and I expect the rest of our village will too.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm. Finally, back on the farm with no travel plans for several months. Much of my travel has been wonderful, but Dorothy was right. There’s no place like home.
Enjoy Thanksgiving Week everyone; may your list of things to be thankful for be long.