But Am I Thankful? (From Just Joan – 2011)

I’m not doing a new blog this year for Thanksgiving…..I’m giving you leftovers and re-running an old post from my previous blog at BlogSpot – Just Joan – from 2011. I like it and just didn’t think I could do a better post for Thanksgiving this year. God’s blessings on you all for this year and many more to come and do have a Happy Thanksgiving.

SunRise KeysIt is Thanksgiving week and I am a bit out of sorts.  I find myself wondering if I am really thankful or if I am just sort of going through the motions. I have heard you should “fake it until you make it” and I wonder if I am faking it more than making it. But I continue. I go through the week reminding myself to be thankful and posting little snippets on my Facebook wall of the things I am thankful for each day.  Family, friends, food, clothing, home, job….all my basic blessings go on the list.  And, everything is going quite well; everything is okay. But still something is not quite right. It is all okay but not great.  The food is good. There is lots of food to eat…turkey, stuffing, potatoes, rolls…..the same as every other year. The kids visit and I enjoy their company. Everything is fine and I’m relatively happy.  I am thankful I tell myself but somehow I am not quite with it….not quite where I should be. Again, I think that maybe today is no different from any other day.

As evening comes, the house is quiet. The kids are long gone home and I am mostly resting alone with my husband and my thoughts. I step outside on the back deck for a breath of fresh air. The air is cool but not uncomfortable so I stay for a bit. It is quiet as dusk comes. There are a few birds flitting back and forth to the feeders getting one last seed or two. The wind has died down and a few last leaves flutter to the ground.  Somewhere a flock of geese flies and I still my breath so that I can hear their soft muffled honking way off in the distance. Even though there is still a little too much light for good star gazing, I see that a few stars do twinkle in the sky above. The evening star shines brightly – always there – always available for a wish or two. “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight“. The rhyme from my childhood comes easily to mind and I gaze at the star and send up one small forlorn wish to the heavens. No, it is more of a prayer than a wish. Even as I whisper the words, I realize that the prayer is already being answered. The solitude of the night surrounds me as the last of the weak late autumn sunlight dims in the western sky. Then all of the earth goes still and quiet around me. I stand there another moment and it is just a moment, one short breath of time, I am separate and apart from the earth and all things around me. I am silent and alone in my thoughts. The lights in the houses across the way shine across the night and I am reminded that my neighbors are safely inside for the night and going about their lives unaware that I am here alone watching at dusk.

Then I step back, inside, and into the light of the kitchen. My husband hears me and calls out from downstairs to remind me that the game is coming on soon and he wonders if I might fix up a couple turkey sandwiches and maybe heat up some of that green bean casserole that is leftover. I smile as I spread the mayonnaise on the bread and tear a bit of lettuce to add and maybe just a slice of tomato. A little cranberry sauce on the side might be good too. I find myself humming as I get tonight’s cold supper together. “Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, let the earth hear his voice. Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, let the people rejoice…”*. And I realize that I am back. Back from my reverie. Back in the right frame of mind. Then I correct myself. Not “mind”. I am back…… in the right frame of heart.


* “To God Be The Glory, Great Things He Hath Done


Lyrics: Fanny Jane Crosby (1820-1915)

Music: William Howard Doane (1832-1915)

Places to Bird – Youghiogheny Dam

BB Logo Man and woman 3Note:  The original concept for BirdingBoomers.Com was to find and share information about parks, refuges, birding hotspots, and public gardens that offer opportunities to see and enjoy wildlife and birds but are also more easily accessible to those people who have disabilities and physical limitations.  So I am a retired “baby boomer” but I also suffer from osteoarthritis having had both knees replaced and more back pain than I ever want to share with anyone.  I loved being outdoors but I found that I could not keep up with the others in the birding clubs or on garden tours.  I was always lagging behind and missing all the action.  I found myself seeking out places where I could bird safely without having to hike long distances through rough terrain at sites with minimal facilities.  I started looking for places where pathways are flat and paved and where there are benches for resting and indoor facilities to make rest stops a little easier.  But I also look for birds and foxes and deer and squirrels and flowers and all things natural. My search continues…..as I go, it is my plan to share the information with others who might also find that there are wonderful spots where you can get out and enjoy nature in spite of all those aches and pains.   As such, my reviews of birding hotspots and gardens and wildlife parks and refuges are geared towards how accessible a site may be and the amenities available at the site (i.e., indoor bathrooms) rather than how many birds I add to my life-list or how many miles I trekked in search of a rarity.  There are numerous birding blogs and websites that provide very detailed accounts of birds located and how best to “bird” but very few that address accessibility issues although I am finding that quite a few parks and refuges are beginning to build accessible boardwalks and visitor centers.

With this blog post, I am connecting up my blog to the main site at BirdingBoomers.Com so that you can find the reviews at either webpage.  In the future, I will add a short blog like the one below and a link for any site reviews that I add to the main website as they are published.  Your comments, suggestions, and ideas to make BirdingBoomers better are always welcome.

REVIEWYoughiogheny Dam/River & Lake

Normally I would not have thought to review the site of a dam in terms of Youghiogheny Damplaces to go birding. I tend to think of wildlife refuges and parks before I think of dams when I am going birding. Of course, lakes and rivers do attract birds but you just do not think of heading out to a dam to do a little birding. But you should because birds are exactly where and when you find them. Where you have water, brush, food sources, you can find birds.  And we found good birds while meandering around in the Laurel Highlands in western Pennsylvania in August 2013. As I discovered on that trip, dams and reservoirs can be great for birding and enjoying nature especially if the sites  are developed and managed for recreational purposes.  We did not take time on our first visit to fully explore the surrounding area but, no doubt, we will spend a little more time here on future visits to the Laurel Highlands. To read the complete site review,  continue reading here!