I’m sitting at the edge of a lake on a Thanksgiving Sunday afternoon, and I have so much to be thankful for, that my heart feels like it’s about to burst.
Or it could be a heart attack… I’ll let you know.
But if I’m on my way out, I am thankful it’s happening here, sharing the kids’ vacation spot.
Just up the mountain behind me is a place we often hike to. At the top of the hill we can see beyond our lake to the next lake over, and just a few kilometres beyond that are the ashes of the Elephant Hill fire.
For much of the summer we were shut out of the cabin by evacuation alerts, and at one point everyone here was under evacuation order. The whole lake community lived in angst for two months.
So what’s to be thankful about?
Everything is still here. Our cabin and our neighbours’ were untouched by flames that were held at bay through the back-breaking labours of firefighters who came from across Canada and from as far away as Australia.
We are all are grateful to them for those efforts.
This whole region is like that terrain behind me: mountains and hills, all steep slopes and deep gullies.
The hike to the top took hours when Donna and I were in our prime. Were it not for a logging road now running up much of the backside of the mountain – built to harvest beetle-killed lumber in the area – we might not be able to make the grade anymore.
I cannot imagine having ever tried that trek in full fire gear – and then back down and up again, and again. And then having the energy to face a blazing fire.
I am saddened that, despite the firefighters’ herculean efforts and the planning and execution of complex fire containment strategies, often thwarted by uncooperative weather, there were losses.
Conversely, I remain thankful that there was no human life lost. That’s a pretty amazing feat, when you think about it. And the pets and livestock saved through the combined efforts of heroic neighbours and those same firefighters add up to something simply incredible.
I’m thankful for other things, as well, of course. For instance, it appears I’m not having a heart attack – just feelings of gratitude that are filling my heart to bursting.