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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: A Whole List of Thanks

© Another Day in the Country

As I’m sure many of you do, we talk about what we’re thankful for at the Thanksgiving table. There’s something magical about hearing the things that different people choose to “underline” (that’s what I call being thankful).

This year I was thankful to have glasses — the kind that help you see. I’d gone to have my eyes checked and when they said “new lenses” I just handed them my old glasses and said, “use these frames.” Really? And then they told me it could be as long as two weeks before I got them back and I assured them, “I’ve got old glasses that I can wear. I’ll be fine.” NOT!

Two weeks was endless. My poor brain was so disoriented shifting from one pair of old, odd, glasses to another until I was dizzy. I read a lot and now the joy of reading was a pain in the neck, quite literally. In Salina, the day before Thanksgiving, I dropped by the optometrist “just in case” my glasses were ready and they hadn’t had time to call. The glasses were there! They were like a long-lost friend. I hadn’t realized how vital my glasses were in my life. So, the first thing I mentioned on the thankful list was “Glasses! I’m so thankful for glasses.”

On our way to have Thanksgiving dinner with our cousins and our cousin’s kids, we drove the back road out of Ramona, turning down 100 over the little old bridge we call “Jacob’s Crossing,” on our way to Sage Road. Right there by our favorite bridge someone had dumped a whole truckload of junk: mattresses, sofas, chairs. I don’t often go this road, but I’d seen this junk in the ditch before, and we’d talked about how disgusting, maddening it is when people just dump their junk and go on. Who is going to clean it up? It was too much and too heavy for us to get it in the pickup and we’d decided we had to do something. But time went by, we went on our way without thinking more of the junk in the ditch until Thanksgiving day! It was still there, of course.

“Who would we call?” I asked my sister. “Would we call highway patrol or county roads?” Were there nearby neighbors out here who could help? “It’s only going to be a bigger mess once it rains, or snows. We’d better do something quick,” we said and vowed to put this on our “to do” list, right away.

A day or so later I drove down that road again — it was Saturday — and we whooped with joy! Someone had picked up that junk. I don’t even know whom to thank; but knowing how news travels in the country, surely someone who knows something and just may be reading this column will say “Thanks!” to the folks who did this good deed. ”Thank you for cleaning up a mess that wasn’t yours!”

Gifts come in unexpected ways. Sometimes inconvenient things that happen to us can even be a blessing to someone else. For instance, a couple of years ago someone was hauling a load of big round hay bales outside of Ramona and lost a couple of those bales in the ditch when they turned a corner. I saw that hay in the ditch and wondered if anyone was going to come back and get it?

I was coveting some of that hay in the ditch. I’m always needing hay, which I use for mulch in my gardens and flower beds and bedding for my chickens. One time, I used straw and it blew everywhere in the gardens and the chickens hated it in the nest boxes, so they kicked it out on the floor. I needed hay and here was hay just laying there in the ditch. 

Remembering that old Biblical story about Ruth and Naomi garnering hay left behind in the field, I watched those hay bales for a while and then I said, “Let’s go get some of that hay. It’s just clogging up the ditch.” At first we felt a little weird, dragging hay out of the ditch, but over the months we got used to the idea. That hay brought us a whole lot of joy! Little by little, through the months, we’ve “garnered” it until there was just a small core left of one bale. 

We went out the other day to get the last of that hay. Jess was able to get at the center of the bale and she lifted it triumphantly high over her head as she dumped it in the back of the truck. We loaded the truck as high as we could. Now there’s something to be thankful for: hay in the ditch! We were happy. The chickens were happy. We cleaned out their house, put down this fresh bedding, stuffed the nest boxes, scattered out scratch grain on the hay to give them something to do, and smiled. All is well. Winter weather can descend again. The chickens are all cozy!

A few weeks ago our poor hens looked awful. They were molting, an embarrassment to behold. “So naked, bare breasted, they are about one step from the soup pot,” said Jess. But today, as we scattered hay, they were all freshly feathered, looking good. Now there’s something to be thankful for, especially if you are a chicken, on another day in the country.

Last modified Dec. 3, 2014

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