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So much to be grateful for

As the year draws to a close, I am filled with equal portions of nostalgia for the many valuable experiences I have had this past year, living in an area as grand as the Sierras, while also looking with anticipation toward 2017, a year that hopefully promises to bring a wonderful series of new adventures as well.

Every day as I leave home to drive to work, winding through rich forest enclaves and admiring the picturesque mountain views, I feel deeply thankful that I had the foresight to leave the smoggy bumper-to-bumper traffic and shoulder-to-shoulder masses of an utterly congested city like Los Angeles, to spend these final productive years surrounded by abundant beauty.

Mt. Lassen and Lake Almanor have replaced the towering steel skyscrapers and concreted waterways that carried away the effluvium of a polluted metropolis.

Here, the crystal clear alpine lakes and meandering rivers are plentiful, with ample recreational opportunities year ‘round that offer something fun to do for young and old alike.

During the winter, snow-crested Mt. Lassen is a magnificent spectacle, and for a prior flatlander like myself, always spellbinding as I drive on the causeway on my way into town. I never get tired of looking at and exploring one of California’s most famous volcanoes — and it’s in my own backyard!

During the warmer months I am confronted by deep blue skies, mostly devoid of air traffic and contrails; while in the winter — well, I deal with the snow like everyone else.

The clear nights reveal the sparkling stars and the Milky Way galaxy that remain forever hidden behind the light pollution that I’ve left far behind.

The Chester community has shown nothing but open arms during my tenure at the Chester Progressive, with new friends warmly accepting this once city slicker as one of their own.

Being employed in my field is a joyful bit of luck in a small town setting, where writing jobs are far scarcer than in the Big City. (Thanks Mike and Keri!)

I am grateful for possessing reasonable health (given that I just turned 60!), having friends who care about me, a roof over my head and a bed to sleep on with plenty to eat.

The list goes on and on.

I am appreciative for living in a country that has sheltered me from the ravages of war and hunger, as millions around the globe have fallen victim to both.

Our courageous veterans have made many sacrifices to defend my freedoms, even though I myself have never been called to duty. For your service, I thank you.

To the police and firefighters who potentially risk their welfare to guard my own, I am indebted to you as well.

And I am thankful for the care providers in Chester, Westwood and nearby Susanville who have worked tirelessly treating any number of my aches and pains, and who put up with my complaints and amateur diagnoses.

And yet, as grateful as I feel for all that I have during this holiday season, I can’t help but feel to a certain degree a tad downtrodden, too, calling to mind how many around the world face a much more difficult reality than I.

As I wax philosophical, I can’t help but contemplate the question: why me? I am no more or less deserving than anybody else. How is it that I have been favored by the fates?

Perhaps this isn’t the time to try and divine an answer to why I’ve been so lucky in a world so torn and tattered. I’ll ponder that question on another day.

In closing, I am grateful for the prospect of many more years living and working in this beautiful place I now call home.

To all, may this be the happiest of holidays, however you choose to celebrate them.

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