Giving Thanks

Maple Leaves copyright Jill HendersonJill Henderson

The tradition of giving thanks didn’t start with modern culture.   In fact, it goes back much, much further than the moment that Pilgrims and Native Americans broke bread.  It goes all the way back to a time when all humankind depended on the bounty of the earth for every imaginable facet of life – a time when man was truly of the earth.

In that respect, it is appropriate that we celebrate Thanks Giving at the point at which fall and winter meet; where every traveler of the seasons realizes that Great Sleep is upon us.

Throughout our experience here, we have learned the value of blessings and being thankful for the unknowable ways in which life is perpetuated and maintained. This Thanks Giving Day we are thankful for lessons learned out of unfortunate circumstances and thankful for serendipity. We are thankful for healthful food and abundant rain. More than anything, we are thankful for steadfast family, supportive friends and good neighbors.

Many have asked us why, after all our travels, do we keep returning to the Ozarks.  The altruistic reason we came to the Ozarks in the first place was to give our rapidly aging dogs, Buck and Milo, a home where they could enjoy total freedom and security in the twilight of their lives and where, ultimately, they would be returned to the earth.  But we also had a homesteader’s desire for land. In the Ozarks we could have a place where we could farm and produce the bulk of our food. Yet is has been so much more than that. It has been a refuge and a place of peace; it has tested our skills and our wit and our tenacity and it has been a place where we would be challenged by perspective and a place that we could call home.

Farm life looks idyllic from afar, but it is hard work. Everything produced on a farm comes of long hours spent with tools in the hands and the back bent double. It comes of planning and attention and action. But fruitfulness also comes of something much less controllable and much more tangible; a heavy rain shower in August just when the earth seems dry enough to blow away, or the honey bee working the blossoms on the peach trees. Describe them as you like, but a blessing is the coming of a thing that we need but cannot control. So it is that when one’s life is tied closely with the whims of sun and rain and drought, one learns to acknowledge blessings more freely.

This farm has been a journey begun, seeds sown and both good and bad experiences noted. Sad times came and went through our garden and sometimes our tears fed the peas. Along the way, the weeds got pulled and the fruit grew fat. Some came and some left us forever. The hornworms ate the tomato plants and I let them, just so I could see them morph into beautiful silk moths. As if to reward us for letting some things be, we are able to count row after row of sparkling quart jars filled with ruby red heirloom tomatoes in the cupboard.

The memory of early summer strolls through the herb garden, rubbing each plant’s leaves between my fingers and walking away with their pungent oils embedded in the whorls of my fingerprints, is a blessing. A freezer full of blackberries picked in summer amidst the drone of big fat bumble bees and drunken wasps as sweat runs down my face and ticks crawl up my ankles, is a blessing.

Remembering these things is a blessing. It is like looking back on the things that have happened during the season and not dwelling on them, but rather turning them over like a good rotting leaf pile that has, over a long sweet time, become rich black soil.

We are thankful for all of these things, yet, it is only through the sharing of these blessings that the circle becomes complete.  I hope that today you remembered and were thankful for all of the small, but beautiful blessings in your life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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2 responses to “Giving Thanks

  1. What a perfect reading for first thing in the morning, Jill. And Ioved this: ‘a blessing is the coming of a thing that we need but cannot control’. Last night as the rain poured down in anticipation of another washed-clean Ozark day, I was giving thanks for whatever mystery brought me here. I used to say that it was the place more than the people but, more and more, I recognize that this is not true. Thank you, you and Dean, for being some of these people.

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