2017 Thanksgiving thankful listBy Tom Garrison

Each November, I compose and send to relatives and friends a “Thanksgiving Thankful List” for the preceding year. My wife, Deb, and I enjoy our life in red rock southern Utah and have many things for which we are thankful. I hope sharing them brings a smile and acknowledgement that even the seldom thought of can be a source of thankfulness. Below is my 2017 list.

I’m grateful for salad dressing. I’m an adult (sort of), I know veggies are good for me. I do eat and enjoy an iceberg lettuce salad with sliced mushrooms, chopped hardboiled eggs, onions, hot peppers, baby corn, and maybe garbanzo beans. Has anyone in the history of the world ever eaten all that without some 1000 Island or good Italian dressing slathered over the veggies? If salad dressing did not exist, I would basically be a meatatarian.

I’m thankful our cats, Bob and Molly, are part of the family. According to a well-researched Wikipedia entry, compared to humans, domestic cats have a wider field of vision (200 degrees vs. 180 for humans). They probably have sensitivity to ultraviolet light; they hear much higher-pitched sounds (about 1.6 octaves above humans), even above the range of hearing of dogs; and a cat’s sense of smell compared to humans is approximately 14 times as sensitive.

Thus, when Bob and/or Molly go on high alert and Deb and I don’t see, hear, or smell anything, something is probably there. I’m convinced cats sense the intrusion of interdimensional monsters getting close to our space-time continuum — something our woefully evolved human senses cannot detect. I’d advise all people with cats to be prepared to fend off these monsters the next time your furry family member perks up and you sense nothing.

I appreciate traffic lights. They make travel easier and, dare I say, safer. Sure, we all get a little miffed when two or three cars sneak through a left turn when the light is not only yellow but often red. (Red means stop/don’t go). Consider the degree of road rage simmering and probably erupting with no traffic lights at major intersections. Traffic lights were in use in some large U.S. cities by the first two decades of the 20th century as the use of automobiles dramatically increased. In 1920, William Potts developed the first traffic signal with our now familiar green, yellow, and red green system of lights.

I’m thankful for hats. Deb and I hike a lot. I often saw people, especially older guys, wearing hats. What’s up with that? Now I understand. As my hair retreats from the top of my head, the idea of a sunburn up there is not so appealing. So I’ve begun wearing a hat on the sunny day hikes, and I blend in with all the other old guys.

Deb and I love to explore and are thankful for red rock canyons, mountains, bluffs, and other formations. In southern Utah, these areas are most often Navajo sandstone, geologically part of the Glen Canyon Group. The sandstone can be distinguished by its white to almost red color and distinctive rounded weathering. We have hiked desert trails for more than 25 years in all types of geological formations. For example, Arrow Canyon in southern Nevada between Mesquite and Las Vegas, a conglomerate rock canyon, is a great hike through towering walls of brownish-greyish rock. But even after a treat like that, we marvel at the sinuous red Navajo sandstone canyons closer to home. There is something magical about a red rock ridge under a cobalt-blue Utah sky.

I’m so glad I only have two eyes. It is a good day when I get both contact lenses in on the first try. I usually spend waaay too much time slapping a contact on my eye ball, and it feels icky. So I take it out and repeat the process, often many times for each eye. I’ve done this for more than 30 years. If I had the proverbial third eye, or eyes in the back of my head, I’d probably need to take the contacts out by the time I got them all in.

Finally, I’m thankful for diners — those intermediate eateries with good food at a decent price. You can only visit so many fast food joints. And honestly, I am not enamored with chichi restaurants where I feel foolish with my elbows on the table, I get tired of guessing which fork to use, and the overpriced portions are the size of small biscuits.

When Deb and I are on a hiking expedition and meal time nears, we always search out the local diner. We’ve never had a bad meal, and almost always we are soon chatting with the owner, discovering they are a fugitive from some eastern big city.

I hope everyone recalls the many things, obvious and not so obvious, to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

An avid hiker for more than 25 years, Tom’s latest book, “Hiking Southwest Utah and Adjacent Areas, Volume Two” was awarded second place in the nonfiction category of the League of Utah Writers published book contest in 2016. It is available at amazon.com and the Desert Rat outdoor store in St. George. He can be reached at tomgarrison98@yahoo.com.

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