For the Birds Radio Program: Thanksgiving Gratitude 2000
Every year sometime between November and December, I start to think about all the things that make me grateful to exist on this lovely little planet. This is the year I went to Hawaii-I’m so grateful to have seen scarlet Iiwis and crimson Apapanes, Maui Creepers and one lone Nene.
I’m grateful for birding friends for times when I want to bird with good company. And I’m grateful for my little dog Photon, who accompanies me when I want to be alone without really being alone. I’m grateful for having a tolerant and fun family, none of whom are birders but all of whom take delight in the birds I see. I’m grateful that my children have their own passions that will bring joy and fascination to their lives as birds have brought to mine. I’m grateful for my husband who keeps my spirit warm by day and my body warm against his by night.
My sister has breast cancer. It’s been almost five years since her mastectomy, but this month she discovered a lump on her neck that proved to be malignant, and tests show it to be in her lungs and her entire lymph system. I’m grateful for her bravery and her positive attitude at a time when I’m not feeling nearly so brave or resilient.
I’m grateful for all the little things on this planet that make even the ephemeral life of a mayfly worth living. I’m grateful to live on a planet with 336 different species of hummingbirds bearing such lovely and exotic names as Crimson Topaz, Sparkling Violet-ear, Spangled Coquette, Festive Coquette, Golden-crowned Emerald, Violet-crowned Woodnymph, Gilded Sapphire, Purple-throated Mountain-gem, Blossomcrown, White-vented Plumeleteer, Brazilian Ruby, Empress Brilliant, White-tufted Sunbeam, Rainbow Starfrontlet, Great Sapphirewing, Gorgeted Sunangel, Booted Racket-tail, Green-tailed Trainbearer, Fire-throated Metaltail, Hooded Visorbearer, Purple-crowned Fairy, Marvelous Spatuletail, and Magenta-throated Woodstar. And I’m grateful for the ornithologists who named these lovely creatures, bringing them to life in my mind and heart even though I’ve never seen any of them with my eyes.
I’m grateful for all the people that make life better for everyone, from medical researchers to bus drivers. I’m grateful for technology, from the porta-catheter that gives my sister her medications to my Leica binoculars that focus on a Pileated Woodpecker four feet away from my office window, letting me see its feathered eyelids and every feather on its brilliant crest. We all live on this little planet together, and I’m grateful whenever I can find a politician who rises above petty partisanship to work on policies that benefit everyone, including birds who are not even allowed to peck into a Florida punch-hole ballot but bring joy to all of us. I’m grateful for those birds who bring our lives beauty and song, and grateful for the birds who pollinate or spread seeds of delicious fruits, and those who eat rodents and insects that destroy crops.
I’m most grateful for human intelligence-our key of entry into the beautiful complexities of nature, and our one hope that people will one day learn how to appreciate and live in joyful peace and harmony with our fellow humans and creatures on this bountiful, beautiful planet.