Tuesdays are “Free for Seniors Day” at Holden Arboretum, so that is where you will find us on most Tuesdays. The problem is this summer is proving the hottest on record for a huge chunk of the US, and Cleveland is no exception. Walks, even along wooded trails, deplete our energy. Park benches placed throughout this world-class arboretum are wonderful spots to sit and cool down in this kind of weather. One of the rest stops on our most recent trip to the Arboretum was beside a lily pond shaded by large big leaf maple trees. The shaded areas under the trees were at least ten degrees cooler than in the open sun. As Richard and I rested, watched the pond and listened to the many sounds of nature, I looked up and couldn’t help but admire the canopy of green leaves that provided shelter and respite from the scorching heat. I am grateful for summer’s green leaves and the shade they give!
We drove through some beautiful countryside on our first day of vacation. When we crossed the state line into West Virginia, we began looking for a “Welcome Center” or “Visitors’ Center.” Each time we enter a state, we like to pick up brochures to see what kinds of interesting places and events the state has to offer. When we entered West Virginia however, the visitors center was closed and travelers were directed via detour to another location. Following the signs and arrows took us much further off the beaten path than we had intended to venture, and we were seriously considering turning back, retracing our path back to the interstate highway and continuing our journey toward my Kentucky home. But just as we were ready to give up, we descended down a mountainside into the delightful, historic district of the village of Greenbrier. The Greenbrier Valley Visitor Center sat on a corner in the middle of the town. While Richard went inside to grab some state literature, maps and brochures, I wandered around a 3 or 4 block area shooting pictures. As I was shooting, an occasional passerby would stop and point out something of interest that I might want to shoot: dates on buildings, titles of what the building used to be, a stone house once at the center of a Civil War battle, etc. The friendliness of the people and the picturesque village made for a delightful, refreshing and rejuvenating break from our journey toward home. I am grateful for the delightful surprises of unexpected side trips.
When thinking about those things in life for which I am thankful, sometimes the most obvious are the things most overlooked. For instance, water. For those of us who have running hot and cold water in our homes, or bottled water within arm’s reach, or lakes and rivers and pools to play in, it is easy to take water for granted. Years ago I had the privilege of spending a few weeks in Nicaragua where water was in short supply. I was amazed at the many ways the Nicaraguan people found to conserve water. From washing clothes to taking showers to cooking, every activity that involved water was thought out. No one wasted water the way we do here in the US. I forget the lessons I learned in this small, Central American country, but when I think of water and gratitude, I am humbled because I remember Nica and I know how much we take this essential life-sustaining resource for granted. I am most grateful for water.