Thankful reflections on outdoor experiences

Thanksgiving. The quiet time is here. A time we set aside to reflect and take stock while counting all the myriad things that make up our own special and unique world.

A time for understanding how fortunate we are to be able to look at our own personal lives and count the thank you’s for a life worth living and appreciating.

What exactly constitutes a blessing worthy of inclusion in our list of thanks for what we enjoy and place value upon?

In compiling this list, we must look at the two main factors that bring into focus those things that makes it worthwhile to put up with the myriad travails we bump into in our lives.

The two factors I am referring to are family and health. These two alone make up the greatest percentage of the thankyou’s we have in our lives and offset life’s oftentimes rocky road. The rest are surely extraneous blessings not to be discounted in the very least.

If you are fortunate to be among those of us that enjoy time out of doors in pursuit of whatever spins your dial, then you have a multitude of tangibles to add to the two blessing counts above. Time outdoors has a lot of inseparables that just add enjoyment to our experiences. I’d bet that a fair number of you rank fishing, hunting and time afield right up there at the top of things you’d rather be doing than most all of what you have to do.

I’ve never heard a sportsperson throw a fit because he or she had to go catch a fish or shoot some wild game. Just not in the equation. How many of us take time to reflect on the memories of moments spent afield? Those memories become a cherished part of our thank you’s – a special time we can indulge ourselves with whenever we need some special thoughts.

Who amongst us hasn’t pocketed and saved a special spent cartridge that was partly responsible for fulfilling a "first-time ever" moment so indelibly etched in your memory bank?

Anyone holding onto a saved casting plug or a time-worn fly that may have belonged to a special someone who took the time to teach us how to place it right next to the spot where the big ones hung out? A memory picture vivid with the image of a flight of ducks looking over a decoy spread while a flaming sunset framed this moment for all time in our minds? Maybe it was that time a large rainbow trout snapped your leader as your fly angled just above the surface while you frustratingly worked to remove a couple of wind knots in your leader?

Memories are funny things. They age and mature, getting better each time you call them back for a visit.

How about listing in our thank you inventory those times we share our outdoor times with another of the same persuasion? That special someone who makes the day just that much better and always seems to add something extra to the stockpile of things we remember long after the day is finished.

Maybe that someone has four legs and picks up the slack you fall behind on without ever letting on that you’re a human and shouldn’t be held accountable for your shortcomings.

I know I’m personally thankful that my own four-legged friend can’t talk and spill the beans on the easy ones I miss. Then again, there is no comment from him when he witnesses great shotgun moments – never a peep then either. I guess we can’t have it both ways.

A lucky knife, a trusted compass (anybody use these anymore ) or a crude map of a secret trout pond drawn on the back of a dog-eared napkin from a back country diner where you paused to have a quick coffee and take in the local flavor.

These are all included in the inventory of things that only you and I can look at or think about and say a quiet thank you for the gift of that moment.

I know a close companion who wears the most tattered pair of brush chaps I’ve ever seen. These chaps were worn out over a decade ago and without a doubt they look it in every sense. I would never suggest or even hint that he get a new pair to replace the dogpatch looking ones he wears.

I’d wager a good bet they are high up on his inventory of great items he is thankful to have in his life. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.

With the holiday season officially underway, I think it’s time to stop and take inventory of all we have to be thankful for. Everything in our lives we hold close to our hearts and understand how blessed we are to have them in our lives.

And if, while your at it, you can list those times spent following your dog through an autumn afternoon or a day spent finding out where the next bend in a river takes you, then count those times as a bonus worthy of inclusion in your lifetime.

Gordon Lewis can be reached at