Time has flown by this year, and the Thanksgiving holiday is just days away. Our country has been through a great deal of discord, frustration and uncertainty. We heard talk of folks threatening to leave the U.S., we saw our flag burned, and we heard “this is NOT my country” after a contentious election.

It’s been a tough time for us for sure, but nothing like what the pilgrims went through; and look how thankful and grateful they were. They risked everything to be free, and were willing to take their chances to live a better life.

I’ve traveled all over the world and seen some breathtaking and awe-inspiring sights. But I’ve always come home.

I’ve never said, “This is a better place to live than the U.S.” This is my home; it’s our home! I’m so proud to be an American. Our country is beautiful and peaceful.

I wanted to put together an acrostic to encourage each of us to “get outside” and focus on just what is right with our country, and the beauty and inspiration it can give us on a daily basis.

I hope you enjoy it, and I pray we will remember just how blessed we are to live here and enjoy the freedoms it does provide us.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Take a slow walk with no electronic interference so you can hear the sounds of nature around you.

Help a friend or neighbor with an outdoor activity/yard chore.

Admire a sunrise or sunset, its colors, the feel of the

air, the light overtaking the shadows, and the miracle of each day.

Notice the behavior of a non-domesticated animal, like a squirrel or a bird.

Keep a small item of interest from your walk to remind you of a memory outside.

Say a prayer of thanks for the beauty and perfection of creation.

Give generously to someone in need — food, clothing, a blanket or coat, gasoline or just a smile and a moment of your time.

Investigate a nature area you’ve never visited before.

Volunteer to pick up trash, in a community garden, taking the elderly outdoors for fresh air, teaching children outdoor safety or gardening skills.

Initiate a conversation with some children regarding the health of the environment.

Network with friends, neighbors, clubs, stores and foundations to define and problem-solve issues in your own community’s environmental issues.

Give up a luxury that you know to be harmful to the environment, such as Styrofoam containers, using retail stores’ plastic bags, long showers, plastic bottles and leaving unused appliances plugged in all day long.

Darla Horner Menking is an outdoor enthusiast and Herald correspondent. Contact her at darla.menking@gmail.com.

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