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Serving: KS
Tree with rainbow in the sky in background P.J. Griekspoor
GRATITUDE: The beauty of autumn is a reminder of the many things we have to be thankful for as our families struggle to make it through the COVID pandemic and the hardships it has brought in our ability to connect with family and friends.

In a time trial, blessings are all around us

View From the Hill: Stresses of pandemic is reminder of blessings of life, family, nature.

As we enter the season for Thanksgiving, I am reminded how often I have not been thankful enough for all the blessings which surrounds my life. 

I am in awe of the majesty of the season. In October, summer was trying to hang on as record heat came upon us. The rains have been sparse, and we are hoping for a life giving reprieve to help winter wheat fields to establish themselves.

Even so, I am celebrating autumn’s glory!

Fall colors emerge on maples, oaks and others, beginning with just a hint of what is to come, and finally exploding with a canopy of fiery reds and orange, each unique in its splendor.

A tree in the front yard of our town home, planted by the previous homeowner as a memorial to his departed spouse, appears festive and grand, testifying to the incredible loss of this gifted soul and the love two people have for each other. Its branches now encompass much of the front yard.

Heavy dew in the morning creates a fantasy world every child at heart finds enchanting, inviting us to look at God’s creation with fascination and wonder. A spider has created its own world of mystery, weaving its intricate web, now laced with morning dew. Giant Foxtail, a hated species in the agricultural world, becomes a jeweled beauty, sparkling in the morning sun.

This year, I am incredibly grateful for more than the usual list of things to be thankful for. As the pandemic continues, family ties take on especially new meaning, with a renewed sense of purpose. Life is precious and can be taken from us before its time. We dare not waste one moment of it.

People experiencing the debilitating effects of COVID-19 are unable to visit family, to give them hugs, to walk hand-in-hand, to exchange terms of endearment.

A few months ago, a first cousin passed away from unrelated causes. We were unable to attend the memorial service and the family’s church had not yet progressed to social media for distant relatives to virtually attend. We did, however, communicate the way we could — by cellphone and postal service.

The good news is we can be innovative and creative in our efforts to connect with people who are special to us. Technology has been a godsend for many who are separated from family. What would have been unthinkable in the early pioneering days is available at the touch of a finger, logging onto Zoom for a virtual chat, or merely by speaking a word, “Alexa, connect me...”

It has been an absolute joy watching friends and family as they make special efforts for other family members to see grandparents who are isolated in nursing homes or are facing isolation in quarantine or the ICU. One friend provides his elderly uncle with a favorite pizza every week, just to encourage and brighten his day, even though they remain separated by walls.

Love connections is a powerful motivator. Drive-by wedding receptions and virtual or socially distanced graduation celebrations provides seniors and others the opportunity to express their support and affection from afar is meaningful and appreciated.

We have much to be thankful for, including our precious time together. Let’s not waste one precious moment of it!

Penner is a Marion County farmer and past president of the National Association of Wheat Growers. His email is smokeyjay@embarqmail.com.

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