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Ulmer: Expressing gratitude for this gift we call life

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This time of year a melancholy seeps into my being and it has a lot to do with saying goodbye to the wilds of Tschida. We wrapped up our last project out here last week so it’s been nice to take a few days off. We just hung around the cabin instead of hanging from rafters to hanging onto the roof while sheeting it with steel; hanging plywood and windows to hanging steel siding around the building; or hanging around awaiting orders from my son the carpenter.

For a couple of days we’d get up, grab a coffee, check the paper, visit the bathroom to catch up on our phones and such then go back to bed. The weather was shifting seasons and it wasn’t very inviting outside so we’d brunch, then nap, then snack and nap, and around 5 p.m. we’d gather around the garage fridge for a brew or two. Then we’d make supper and head back to bed so we could get a good start at doing the same thing over again.

The vast majority of cabin owners have closed up for the winter and there are just a few of us left and we’re getting ready to close up before winter really takes over. Of course we’ve had a few really nice days with no wind which draws the fishermen out. Rumor has it that they’re catching nice ones but I don’t want to expose much more on that.

We’ve winterized all our water craft so we rely on our land-based toys for transportation and recreation. Traffic has been reduced to one or two vehicles a day so the roads and trails are pretty much wide open for us.

Anyway our time out here is coming to an end shortly, usually this occurs when the day and night time temperatures don’t get above freezing because we’ve learned more about plumbing out here than we ever wanted to know. The date isn’t certain yet but usually I head home around Thanksgiving, and unlike last year there’s a great chance that our entire tribe will be able to gather so I am looking forward to that, but then again the weather may change, and I’m digressing again.

As usual I’ll be grateful for whatever happens because that’s what happens when melancholy sets into me. I usually move out here in March or April; this year we didn’t really settle here till almost August, but that’s another story. On a good year I’ve been able to spend nine months out here and as you should be able to tell by now it’s my happy place.

And I am not only fortunate but extremely grateful to have such a place. I don’t know what I did to be so lucky but compared to a lot of folks I feel like I won some sort of good life lottery.

My luck started when I was born into a loving family that nourished me in any way they could and I can’t help but wonder why me, why am I so lucky?

Think about all the other places in the world that you could have been born into: some are horrifying, impoverished, on and on. It seems to me that where we begin life has more to do with some sort of infinite lottery and I can’t help but wonder if those of us who lucked out and were born here aren’t supposed to do something for the folks who have been less lucky in the lottery.

Anyway I’m grateful for this gift we call life and humbled to be here at all. Here’s hoping thanksgiving stuffed you with gratitude.

Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.

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