Last week, as I drove home in the mid-afternoon, I saw in the distance a large plume of dark smoke right over my neighbourhood.
The National Capital Commission Greenbelt lies just 2 blocks from my house. The treed lands provide convenient woodland cross-country skiing in the winter, and my dog loves sniffing her way through the underbrush on our summer walks. I enjoy the Greenbelt almost daily, but last week was the first time I considered what those nearby trees become in a long, dry heat wave: tinder. Fire builds in intensity and spreads blindingly fast in dry conditions.
Last week those trees were on fire, and we are in the middle of a drought.
City of Ottawa emergency service workers worked in 35° C (95° F for my American friends) to get the flames under control. By evening, the greatest danger was past. The fire continued to burn, though, and likely will continue to do so until we get some serious rain. The next morning, I awoke in my comfy bed, in my secure home, with my family safe and not traumatized by sudden catastrophe. It was a morning for gratitude.
Gratitude often arises out of misfortune or deprivation.
Like poppy seeds springing into bloom after being churned up by the tanks of war, our gratitude only surfaces when our routine gets shaken up a bit. When disaster strikes someone we love, we realize how much we cherish that person. When we have to do without things we usually take for granted—running water, or flush toilets, for example—we appreciate them anew when they become available once again.
Last week, in my comfy bed, I gave thanks for my home, my family, the City of Ottawa firefighters, and the trees that got saved so I will be able to walk there again soon. And I gave thanks for the reminder, for the shake-up, that made me appreciate anew my many riches.