Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016: Gratitude for it All

When the holiday season winds up as the year draws to a close, I love coming up with my Thanksgiving gratitude list each year.

This year, I'm first and foremost grateful and happy to be here. As in here on planet Earth, living what poet Mary Oliver calls my "one wild and precious life."  

The miracle and privilege of this was heightened for me last week when I was at the scene of a traffic fatality. About a week later, I'm starting to feel more normal again, my shot nerves finally calming down

A speeding car smashed into the corner of a bakeshop outside from where I sat enjoying tea with a friend. As the first responders told me, I was very lucky to not be seriously injured or worse. I did sustain some bumps, cuts, abrasions, and a little PTSD from being thrown and sprayed with shattered glass. But nothing serious. 

I'm also grateful for my favorite jacket, a trusty Mountain Hardwear alpine shell that protected me from tiny glass shards and transmission fluid (or battery acid?) sprayed over my backside, ruining the shell.

One of many good ski days in my favorite alpine shell.

I'm grateful for the forces of velocity and air pressure that caused me to be thrown down and forward, out of harm's way from the bigger glass shards that flew over me.

Doing the Pose - a silly moment in the shell.
I'm grateful for the kindness of strangers. Two young women in the bakeshop noticed me standing dazed and in shock, bleeding a bit, and took charge of me. Kat called and cancelled my scheduled medical appointment, and her friend visiting from California led me to a chair and had me sit down while talking calmly to me and checking for injuries before the medics arrived.

I'm grateful for the first responder firefighters, who really are as tall and handsome as they are on TV. But seriously, they charge into frightening and sometimes perilous situations with grace, strength, and their wits about them, to help others. Sorry, no photos of them, so here's a shot of a nice day in Seattle.

West Point Lighthouse.

I'm grateful for friends and family, who were concerned and supportive. 

And I'm especially grateful that the corner of the building where the car struck, just a couple feet from where I sat, was a strong, heavy concrete column instead of lesser-strength material.

"If that had been wood, it wouldn't have held against the force of the impact" said one of the first responders tending to me. 

And I'm saddened by the life that ended just outside from where I sat. This being Seattlewhere before our explosive growth we used to joke "There's only a thousand real people in Seattle and they all know each other"—I was just two or three degrees of separation from the victim via a cousin. 

I know his family is mourning his death but is also very grateful for his life. He loved to sail, so this shot is for him boating off into the sunset.

So yes, I'm grateful for it all, for the whole enchilada. To be alive in this moment, sitting here in my cozy office trying to convey how profound and special it is to just be here. I can't say it more eloquently than Mary Oliver below:

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
—Mary Oliver

Wishing you and yours a lovely and blessed Thanksgiving and holiday season. And if you're not in the USA, I wish you a happy day, every day, anyway.

En route to Thanksgiving dinner on Bainbridge Island, 2015.
  Happy trails and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons! In between blog posts, visit Pacific NW Seasons on FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram for more Northwest photos and outdoors news.



Anonymous said...

Beautiful writing and I am so glad you are part of my world! Thankful for you!

jill said...

Thank you anonymous! Appreciate the feedback. I assume I know you, and therefore am thankful for you, too. :) But even if I don't, I'm thankful that you took the time to read my blog AND leave a comment. That always makes my day.

Suezy P said...

It’s hard to read this beautiful expression of gratitude, including those of Mary Oliver’s, without crying. The realization of time and space - yes, the First Responder was right….it was your lucky day. It was our lucky day, my lucky day. I want many more days of my life with you in it.

What a beautiful photo to commemorate the life of the man that passed.

It’s a reset. A chance to draw nearer to what is important.

Yesterday, I burned the last evidence of the cedar candle you gave me when we moved. When I burn it, memories come alive. I see you sitting across our dinner table, curled up reading a book in Santa Fe, following behind you on the hike down to Carkeek, sharing dim sum in Chinatown, scribbling a note on a post card at the theater, standing in awe of the splendor and beauty of the PNW at every turn, tasting chocolate, sipping tea with Zen Dog, Books in Review and your incredible appetizers, reading your blogs as you take us on incredible journeys - introducing us to family, friends, places, flora, fauna, fungi, and oh, the never-ending stories that lap in from the Salish Sea. No. I do not want this to ever end.

I am thankful for your health and pray that you feel the energy of healing flowing through your body and that it brings you a state of wholeness in mind, body and spirit.

JoJo said...

Wow you were so lucky you weren't killed. Sad about the person that was though. I'm thankful for your blog, giving me a glimpse of a state I now consider home, although I live 3200 miles away.

Dave Wenning said...

Holy crap! I'm thankful you're OK.

jill said...

Suezy, wow, what a beautiful response to my blog! I am so touched by your words. Back at you dear friend. Sending healing energy and love your way, too. Hands together and bow to the force of nature (in a good way) that is my friend Suezy. xo

jill said...

Hey JoJo! Thank you! Good to hear from you, I hope you are well. Happy Thanksgiving and you take good care. Hugs.

jill said...

Dave, thanks! Hope you have a nice Thanksgiving and that we can go hiking together sometime relatively soon up in your beautiful neck of the woods.

jill said...

Ron Mitchell! Your comment came through A-okay. I must have accidentally hit Delete instead of Publish.

Unknown said...

Jill - I'm thankful you were ok and that you will experience many more adventures and photos to share with all of us.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Your cousin


Lainey Piland said...

I'm so sorry to hear about that accident, Jill! It must have been terrifying and sad to witness and be a part of. I'm glad to hear that you're okay!

Beautiful thoughts in this Thanksgiving post. There truly are so many things to be grateful for. I'm thankful for your wonderful blog, and for our little group of bloggers! I so enjoy following everyone's adventures and meeting up at book club. :)

Carol Owens said...

Oh Lordy. I'm giving Thanks for you, for serendipity, for concrete, for those who spend their holidays caring for others, and most of all for your survival , with your body and soul intact--mostly. Even a fall produces a shock , so I can only imagine the PTSD after this. So sad for the man driving, my husband was killed in a similar accident-- but he went into a ditch, not a shop.
It certainly jerks one's chain , and reminds you of real priorities: health, hearth, family , friends. All else is small stuff.
Bless you my friend- now go out and make tracks!
Check out Copper Creek Inn and restaurant near Ashford. We're in the John Muir Cabin til Sunday.
Hoping to be snowed in!
Luv n hugs
Carol O

Anonymous said...

Wow, a huge sigh of relief coming all the way to you from Victoria, Australia. What a jolt you've just experienced. Can't stew over the 'what ifs' so I'm thankful for the 'what did'nts' and sheer luck that was with you that day. Sylvia

Seanna said...

Jill: I am so glad you are still in this world. We need all the beautiful souls! I would say let's get together for tea but do you ever want to meet at a coffee shop again? I think you should come over to my 'hood and walk around Discovery Park!

Anne said...

Just read this lovely blog, first chance you know, and I hardly knew when Thanksgiving happened with the 16 hour gap. I am thankful for our beautiful world and all of its surprises that can still take our breaths away and also for our brother David who sheltered you on that sad day as best he could. xoxo

jill said...

Oh I didn't see a lot of these comments until today because they all got put in my spam folder! So sorry not to respond to Carol, Sylvia, Anne, Seanna, Lainey, Greg, and JoJo! Thanks for you kinds words.

als said...

Hi Jill, I've just read your post this weekend; I'm a little behind. I am also grateful that you survived. I hope 2017 is everything you wish for and that the trauma is behind you. I left a previous post, but I don't think it went through - something on my end. Take care, Angela S.