Originally published  as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on October 8, 2018.  

The first morning of October was cold and drizzly and the tall withered grass was wet and just as cold. Dog and I went on our daily hike, heading up the steep trail as fast as we could to keep warm. By the time we reached the plateau the wind had picked up. It spoke of winter, pretending that fall was not part of the schedule anymore.

No bird sang and or hopped around Saskatoon bushes the way they usually do. The eerie silence was beautiful, chill notwithstanding, but the feeling of being cheated out of fall was also there. Climate change reality and all the talks about ‘the new normal’ can bring enjoyment down a few notches, making it harder to know where gratefulness lies.

The first snowflake looked like a tiny butterfly fluttering by. Almost surreal. Another came and then a few more. It was way too early for snow but I could not help feeling jolly.

I stood glued to the spot on the mucky trail, among Ponderosa pines and fragrant sagebrush, mesmerized by that first snow dance of the season. I felt thankful for being witness to it, and that opened the door to more thanks: for the beautiful nature we have in and around Kamloops (fresh mounds of bear and coyote scat included, deer tracks too – a daily reminder of shared paths and of the circle of life that works best when it includes us all); for how close the big wild spaces are to the city, and what a blessing it is to be able to find yourself immersed in silence and beauty mere steps away from home.

And yet, giving thanks becomes difficult when nature excursions reveal that the wilderness can become garbage dumping grounds for some, repeatedly so and despite signs. But, I often get reminded that being thankful is not just an act of receiving, but of giving as well. Come spring time and not only, there are groups of volunteers heading into the hills for annual cleanups. Join the crowd if you are thankful for what nature gives you on any given day. Being thankful creates a commitment of sorts. It becomes the catalyst for the impulse to pay it forward. Which creates hope, which creates thankfulness, which creates further community involvement.

Which take me to the next set of thanks: for the ‘small town/big city’ place that Kamloops is – a living organism with so many facets; the place where I learn about life unfolding from many circumstances and people that I would rate, without hesitation, extraordinary; for the humility that comes with discovering that when it gets hard to see where hope lies ahead, there are many people who remind that keeping hope alive means lending time and a bit, or more, of yourself, to causes that help you grow and appreciate even more the community we belong to.

Politics can be a dirty game at times, but there are many who prove the opposite. As we approach election day, I am thankful for driven people who move things socially and politically in our community and are not afraid to stand tall in the crowd, motivated by the desire to add something they consider of value; thankful for different opinions because debates make productive dialogue and viable solutions possible.

The news that greet us daily is often grim, heartbreaking and/or scary. The world becomes an unhappy place sometimes and that alone is reason enough to feel hopeless. But, that’s when opening our eyes to see the liveliness of our city creates gratefulness: for so many dependable local businesses, for smiles, for music that flows through Kamloops – live concerts, big and small, for the art that bewilders, whether you see it as murals throughout the downtown, or in coffee shops, art galleries or at the Old Courthouse.

There are days, periods of time, when thankfulness does not come easy, and the opposite feelings prevail. That’s when it becomes most important that we find some, and if possible, help others to do the same. The beauty of humanity, much like its faults, exists within each of us; vulnerable as we are strong and hopeful.

Over the years I learned that to recognize needs and help when possible is the other side of giving thanks. I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and in doing that, I also invite you to lend a bit of yourself, when you can and as much as you can, to create more reason for thanks in our community.