The Beauty of Gratitude

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” —Albert Einstein

Spring has arrived in Yellowstone. Finally. Winter was great and skiing the best but, come March, I am ready for sun and warmth. This year, spring hesitated before showing up. She would come for a day or even just a few hours then hide her face while winter flexed its muscles. In May she traded weeks with winter, taking turns with sun and warmth then snow and cold.

Now, in June, perhaps spring has finally lost her shyness and is here to stay. Flowers bloom riotously, lower hillsides are green before turning summer brown. Snow still covers Electric Peak and you can still ski up in the Beartooths. Bear mothers roam the ridges with their cubs, wolf puppies rough and tumble play outside their dens while delighted visitors view them through spotting scopes. Bison calves sprawl asleep in the grass on warm afternoons, and elk calves are just beginning to be visible.

Yellow Bells
Wyoming Kittentails

I am fortunate to have hiking partners that are always up for adventure. We spend days hiking trails or exploring off trail routes. We laugh. We point out flowers, bones and rocks. We take photos. We share snacks. We discuss questions about our natural world. I appreciate it all.

Glacier Lilies

One thing stands out when I think of hiking with these friends. Gratitude. Each time we hike, one of us starts it by saying how thankful we are for the day, for the weather, for the opportunity to spend time together, for the land. Over time, almost unconsciously, we have cultivated an atmosphere of gratitude, to the point where I miss it if I am with others who do not give voice to appreciation. When we voice our thanks, we celebrate the present moment. Who knows what the future may bring? But here and now, we voice gratitude. It all serves to raise our happiness quotient.

With the idea of fostering happiness, lowering stress, improving health and becoming generally a better person, here are a few wild things for which I am grateful:

**Living in this Yellowstone ecosystem that feeds my soul. After years of living with one foot back in Michigan and the other in Yellowstone, I now feel whole.

**The ability to hike and be outside in beauty. Sure, I am slowing down but the key is that I still get out there.

**Time. I am grateful for this time of my life, and having the time to explore the wild deeply. Whether I explore Yellowstone or the Canyons of Utah, I am grateful for time.

**Friends who are willing to share my explorations. They teach me so much, give me such pleasure, so many laughs.

**A husband who loves to hike, but who slows down for flowers.

**A deep curiosity about our world. Especially, I want to know about everything Yellowstone, and I am grateful for that questioning side of myself that keeps me growing.

**I am especially grateful for the wild places in our country. We have incredible places of beauty, of historic and prehistoric significance. We are so very fortunate to have these public wild lands in which to roam.

And you, dear reader? What wild things bring joy to your heart? What are you thankful for? Let us begin a thankfulness list for wild things in the Comment section below. We’ll all be happier for it.

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.                             John Muir







13 thoughts on “The Beauty of Gratitude

  1. I need wild things, of all kinds. Beautiful views, wild animals, and wild flowers all feed my soul. I don’t know how people could live without the wildness in the world.

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  2. Sarah Jackson

    I am grateful for the physical ability to hike and bike and dive; to experience and explore our beautiful planet above and below the surface. I love the unexpected moments that can take your breath away. I saw a lovely sandhill crane standing on the railroad tracks today while riding. What glorious country we live in. I am also grateful for our teachers and mentors who can help guide us to enrich our experiences, so that we may share our knowledge with others.

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  3. Neysa

    There are so many things about wild things and wild places I’m grateful for, so let me try staying in the present and share that I was taken by surprise and delight this morning when I walked to a nameless park close by that has a pond. As I neared the water, flashes of white and oh, my! A quartet of pelicans, one still with a part of its breeding “bump” on its bill, swimming in unison, raising their wings, then doing their dip-and-dunk feeding plunge together. They’d swim a bit farther, then do it all over again. I stood there smiling for the longest time. They were cautious, paddling away from me. I walked around to the other side of the pond and they moved back where I’d first seen them. What a treat…unexpected pieces of the wild in surprising places.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I so loved this post Julianne. I too have this powerful need to embrace the wild. I am soaking up each moment at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch, whether sitting on the back porch of the bunkhouse, watching the bison and their young frolicking in the grass, eyeing grizzlies and wolves through the spotting scopes, or watching the little weasel hunting among the ranch cabins. I look forward to seeing you soon.

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  5. I am grateful for the randomness of wilderness, for not knowing what I will see on the trail today, for the sego lily that was not there yesterday, for the red-tailed hawk that is hunting like a harrier hawk, for the subtle differences in the color of a morning, for time alone with nature, for waking up knowing I can still step on a trail, for desire, for wanting to be there, for internal and external wonder. I am grateful for the feeling that penetrates deep, penetrates until it creates emotion, emotion that pushes inside until it forces me outside. I am grateful that I can see through my many imperfections and see the perfection found in nature. I am grateful for the events in your life that inspired this piece.

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