Truly thankful for many things
Last spring I wrote that I was giving up my weekly column, something I enjoyed doing for many years. My main reason for quitting my column was my wife and I had busy summer ahead of us. We spent three weeks in May on the road in the western U.S. First, was a family wedding near Durango, CO, then to Nogales, AZ where we stood within feet of the border with Mexico. That was our starting point to drive north on US Highway 89 to the border with Canada.
It is a mostly two lane road that took us through national parks and amazing scenery from the desert of southern Arizona, to the Colorado Plateau, and then the Rocky Mountains.
After reaching the border with Canada, we started in the direction of home.
We drove to Billings, MT where we visited my cousin and his wife, then to western North Dakota to see Theodore Roosevelt National Park and across North Dakota to arrive in time for Memorial Day services in my wife’s home town in western Minnesota.
We made it home a few days later, covering eleven states, nine national parks and monuments and 5400 miles.
We had another family wedding close to home, my 70th birthday celebration in July, then my wife and I were support for her family who had signed up for RAGBRAI.
We drove to Orange City where it started and spent the week driving my brother in law’s motor home followed by my wife driving the pickup as we followed my in-laws across the state of Iowa. It was a trip of slightly under 1000 miles for the week.
The reason I am telling about our summer’s travels is because Thanksgiving is here and this is the time to truly give thanks for many things.
First, we can give thanks for another crop year. The year had its problems starting with a cool spring, then windstorms through the summer that devastated some places. A cool August set maturity back which set harvest back.
There are many people who have finished and there are people who are harvesting yet. It is that kind of year. Good yields have helped offset low prices, somewhat, as we prepare for next year.
However, I have to express my thanks about something that is even more important.
At this Thanksgiving we wonder about our divided nation. We despair over the recent shootings, knowing that the most recent one won’t be the last one.
Drug abuse and dependency have created problems with crime in our towns and rural areas. What will it take to end it?
A dwindling population is creating problems for communities, schools, and churches. Where are the young people that we need to be the next generation of leaders, workers, and volunteers?
While these times are uncertain, I have optimism because after traveling 6400 miles and meeting lots of people, I have seen and talked to the best of America.
Politicians and celebrities get the headlines and the news gives us no relief from whatever calamity of that day as the news cycle needs fresh meat daily.
So, pull yourself away from the news (Farm News being the exception) and look around at the people around you who go about their daily lives.
They are the ordinary people who show up for work everyday and make this a better place just by doing their job.
In Flagstaff, AZ we had to do our laundry and met Emma who lives on the Hopi reservation We had a short visit and wished each other well when we parted.
We ate at a steak house in Livingston, MT and our waitress Andrea said she was from Chile and still had her accent after living in the U.S. for nine years.
I told her how I read the book about the miners who were trapped and then rescued in the Chile’s Atacama Desert a few years ago, after following it closely on television. Andrea said her father was a mining engineer in Chile who knew of the rescue all too well. Andrea herself had background with mining in Chile.
While looking for a place for supper in Glacier National Park, we met Marty who was just opening up for business and the beginning of the tourist season.
I asked if he had been in the hospitality business long because Marty wanted to give us the best service and best food. He said he recently came back to Montana from working in New York City, sewing costumes for Broadway plays for seven years.
He grew up only miles away in the town of Browning on the Blackfoot Indian reservation. He said that drugs had replaced alcohol as a serious problem on the reservation and he needed to leave the reservation to have a better life.
During RAGBRAI week, we met those wonderful Iowans who welcome everyone, and then proceed to entertain and feed them. My Minnesota relatives gained an appreciation for the beauty and the people of Iowa in that week.
Sitting and resting at the Spencer fairgrounds after a day of riding from Orange City, my sister in law said, “These people are really, really nice.”
I’ve known that for years.
So, don’t pay a lot of attention to the politicians, celebrities, or professional athletes who have an over inflated sense of their own importance and want to talk down about our country while leading lives of privilege.
Instead, acknowledge the person who is working the drive through window of the fast food place. You know, that person whose job requires them to work at an open window in the heat of summer and cold of winter, taking money and then handing back the change, and a bag of food with a drink.
That’s the person who watches a steady stream of humanity float past their open window while expected to be pleasant, regardless the previous jerk who was ahead of you.
Those are the people we thank, the ones who work the third shift or weekends, so we can do our jobs.
We don’t have a perfect country. What we do have is an amazing country populated with wonderful people and for that we are thankful.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.
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