BOS 10 13 2021 doublesize

"Where did they see beaver dams along our shore?" I wondered as I scrolled lazily through Thanksgiving Facebook posts. How many other Thanksgiving days have people been tempted to go out on the water? The day was hot. We took our first road trip in nineteen months that weekend. As I packed long sleeve shirts and sweaters--typical fall wear--I threw in a sleeveless shirt and cotton pants. That's what I wore on Monday for the drive.

Putting on the car airconditioning that day was a necessity, but it felt wrong. The weather felt wrong. I'm glad it made space for people to gather outside and some of my peppers and tomatoes started rippening, but to me, it did not feel like normal fall weather. The day was glorious, but I had to wonder if that spate of unseasonal warmth is a sign of the shifting climate.

Leading up to Thanksgiving, lots of people posted about gratitude and thankfulness. Family. The colours of fall. Gatherings and food. Near normal gatherings made easier by the good weather. Myself, I am thankful that we could make the trip to Ottawa to see out daughter's new place, then travel to Kingston where we spent time with her younger brother and his wife. An outdoor tea with friends on the last morning of the trip home capped off the road trip.

But travelling was not calm. There was in me an underlying anxiety that came from the unfamiliarity of not being at home. There was anxiety in our nine-month-old puppy who has only once before slept away from home. His first stop he did not want to pee or drink. He just wanted to look at all the new sights, smell all the new smells, great all the new people and dogs. By our fourth night, however, he had the routine. I am thankful that he learns fast.

I am thankful that we got together with part of our family. I was, however, very much aware of the parts that we did not see. My husband's oldest son's family lives in the U.S., and while his son got to visit at the end of summer, and we hope for a Christmas all together, I was aware of the separation. His second son and family are coming soon for lunch.

But I will be carrying a concern with me the next while. I will be wearing a mask for others' protection. Staying in two hotels--we broke the journey both ways--and staying with family who work retail, we've had a lot of potential exposure. No indoor dining. No crowded spaces. But still, though fully vaxed, I am aware that we can carry the virus.

Before Thanksgiving, there were lots of discussions of the value of gratitude and giving thanks. On the radio, a person talking about gratitude said that the practice of recognizing the good in our lives relieves anxiety, helps us to know that what we have is enough. This made me uncomfortable. We have more than enough. I want to be aware that abundance is a resonsibility. And many people do not have enough--enough food, enough money, enough family, enough of a support system. These people need the society's care. And mine. It is wrong to ask them to be grateful so that they will think they have enough.

Two former colleagues who now live on the prairies headed out at night to observe the Aurora Borealis. Their pictures show stunning green waves of light. What struck me was the awe they felt when a sudden wave of pink and white shot over their heads across the sky.

On Thanksgiving Sunday, my daughter and I went for a walk in a conservation area. There were hundreds of people there, all following a Thanksgiving tradition of getting outside. There was an aura of appreciation. A child held out their hand with sunflower seeds to a chipmunk who gently approached and ate.

I worry when our giving thanks is like a shopping list of what we have. But I saw awe in that child's face. I heard awe in the words that sought to describe the aurora. I remembered awe in myself, at a scarlet leaf, the laughter of family. Awe may be what helps ground us in this world in a good way.

Cathy Hird lives on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway

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