The food drive bins.
That weird thing water does when it freezes.
Clearly, Thanksgiving has come just in time —because we have accumulated such a backlog of gratitude.
Naturally enough, we have to start with you — our beloved readers.
We’ve got nothing without you. You not only have financed our odd and shambling careers — but you’ve actually given us meaning and purpose. For we have organized our lives around the notion that it matters what people know — ordinary, getting-through-life, doing-their-best people. And you keep proving that it’s true, just a shade more than 200 years into this daring experiment in letting people run their own country.
Moreover, you dear and unexpected people surprise and entertain us pretty much every day by the endearing, good-hearted, intermittently strange things you do.
Thank you, dear hearts. We’d be lost with out you.
And then there’s this town.
What a place.
It’s easy to get all gushy about the turn of the fall leaves, the rustle of the breeze through the pine needles, the pause of the elk on the edge of the meadow, the shimmer of cottonwood leaves, the dreamscape of the Rim, the rise of the trout, the flutter of the bat, the croak of the raven, the hush of the first snowfall (soon, please, Santa).
But that’s not even our favorite thing about this place.
The best thing — the thing for which we’re most deeply grateful — is how many wonderful tales follow the question: “So how did you come to Rim Country?”
Sometimes, people who have been here for generations can tell you a story that connects directly to the great epics of the west.
More often, they’ll offer up a wonderful story about full and various lives that gave them the courage to make a deliberate and sometimes costly decision to live in a place that enriches the soul more than the bank account.
What a place — and how lucky we are to live here.
Which brings us back to the drop of cans into the food bin — and maybe to the Thanksgiving dinner for 600 at the Elks Lodge.
We’re grateful beyond measure that we live in a place where people act like neighbors and family — from supporting the food drive gathering momentum right now to boxing up gifts for those brave souls serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan (for whom we are so terribly and helplessly grateful, oh best beloved).
We’re thankful for the people who could retire quietly, but instead sign up for writing classes at the community college and volunteer at reading programs.
We’re grateful for the readers who write letters to the editor — even when they chew us out, because it means they care. And we’re so deeply grateful for the citizens who serve the community and listen patiently to all the complaints, not to mention the people who keep the Time Out Shelter running, who walk the dogs at the humane society, the teachers, the cops, the paramedics and the bright and creative people who cobble together three jobs so they can stay here.
And, of course — thank God water expands when it freezes. We’re REALLY grateful for that.
See, if you chill most liquids, the molecules jiggle less and settle into a lattice that takes up less space than they do in the liquid state. But not water. Water’s almost unique in that the position of the molecules in ice takes up more room than when those same molecules form a liquid. That’s why ice floats. This is very, very helpful when making margaritas — but it also makes life on the planet possible. If water contracted when it froze, the ice at the poles would sink to the bottom of the ocean —eventually freezing the whole ocean solid.
And so we’re ever so thankful — for you, this town, the food bins and the weirdness of water.
Sure does seem like someone’s looking out for us.
God bless us, every one.