This year I’m especially thankful for the autumn colors. Back in Chicago when I was learning to make photographs, I made an annual trip out to a particular wooded area because the trees there were reliably spectacular. Now, I can be as awed by a particular leaf as by a forest, and a November gingko can make me laugh out loud.
I’m thankful for the birds in the flyway—American Coots, Snow Geese, Turkey Vultures, Black-crowned Night Herons, Greater White-fronted Geese, House Sparrows, Ross’ Geese, Canada Geese, Herring Gulls, American Widgeons, Gadwalls, Eurasian Widgeons, Mallards, Blue-winged Teals, Buffleheads, Northern Shovelers, Cinnamon Teals, Ruddy Ducks, Red-tailed Hawks, Sandhill Cranes, Ring-billed Gulls, Snowy Egrets, Red-winged Blackbirds, Sandpipers, Bald Eagles, Redheads, and Northern Pintails. I really like the way they’re just themselves, unlike many of us.
I’m grateful for rain, especially here and now. I’m hardly ever aware that the water I drink is practically as old as Earth. That whatever water there is on Earth is all there’s ever gonna be—be it polluted, pure, or inaccessible—seems harsh and fair, and whenever it rains, I’m glad.
I’m grateful for my car, which runs well at eighteen. I think it knows that it’s only a big repair away from a junkyard, because gas and insurance are all I can afford. Meanwhile, I try to keep it clean and talk nice to it. So far, so good. Say hello if you see it.
I’m grateful for my family and friends. You may be one, but probably not. If you aren’t a friend of mine—Facebook doesn’t count—don’t sweat it. You’re likely not missing much, and I have plenty of friends, and by plenty I don’t mean many so much as enough for me—not very many at all. You handful of stalwarts make all the difference for me.
I’m grateful for my stuff generally and my bike specifically. I think I have a lot of stuff, although I know I’m a piker next to some. Lately, when I think about my stuff it’s generally been with an eye to getting rid of it, which is still a goal. Now I try to pay attention to the stuff I most enjoy and appreciate whatever pleasure it provides me. Sometimes it doesn’t, and out it goes. My laptop is my main thing and takes precedence over my car. A carless life is easier to imagine than a computerless life, although I could do without both. Yes, I could too.
I love my books. I’ve gotten rid of stacks of books, and, though I stringently restrict the influx of new books, I still have stacks on shelves and the floor of books I have yet to read. Something makes me want to read what I have before I bring any more in the house, maybe my mother, now that I think of it. I don’t keep a count, but I have fewer books than I did, say, five years and more than I had last summer. I fluctuate.
I’m thankful for Hobbes, our cat. He’s friendly and good-natured and a constant model of how to just be. Hobbes eats and plays and pokes around into things, and still he’s mostly just being, lying there in the sun.
I’m mostly grateful for being able to write this, and thank you for reading it. A lot of things have to go just right for this to happen, and I know that a missed connection between any number of nerve endings could render me null and void right now and I wouldn’t even get to save the file.