Giving thanks for our state

Posted Nov. 24, 2010, at 10:53 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:37 p.m.

In one of our nation’s most treasured traditions, most of us will gather with friends and loved ones today, crowd around a table, and enjoy a Thanksgiving feast.

The turkey will be great, I imagine. And the stuffing. And the mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce and pies. While we’re gorging ourselves on all that delicious food, and while we’re enjoying the company of our families, let’s also take a moment — or more than a moment — to give simple thanks.

Thanks for the opportunity to head into the woods on Thanksgiving morning, perhaps. Many of us make plans to spend a few hours in the woods on this special day, and it’s easy to take those late-November forays afield for granted.

But while many of us are out there in the woods, hoping for a last-minute reprieve from a deer-free hunting season, others are often at home, cooking the meal that we’ll eagerly consume hours later. They accept the fact that we want to hunt on Thanksgiving Day. A simple “thank you” to those who understand our passion for the outdoors is certainly in order.

We should be thankful for the chance to spend our time with so many family members. As I grow older, I watch as still older relatives struggle with health issues. My extended family has said goodbye to a few members over the past few years; maybe yours has, too. Let’s be thankful for the good times we got to spend with those departed relatives, and for the time we’ve got left with others.

Let’s be thankful to live in a state that has been blessed with such remarkable beauty. Our natural places offer us refuge from our cities, a break from the daily grind, a place to recharge our batteries. Individually, we may not own much of that land, or any of it. But collectively, we have vast tracts we are allowed to use for a variety of recreational pursuits. In many other places around the world, people can’t say that. We should remember that.

Let’s be thankful for the time we use to participate in those outdoor activities. Sure, most of us would like to be out there, somewhere, a little more often. But those times that we do spend outdoors are special. They’re limited. And we shouldn’t take them for granted.

Personally, I’m thankful for a family and girlfriend (and her three children) that love and support me, an employer who allows me to hold what may be the best mass-media job in the state, and a boss who respects the fact that my office is, sometimes, a canoe seat … or a tree stand … or a camp deep in the woods.

And I’m thankful that our readers still appreciate tales that originate in our wildest places. Happy Thanksgiving.

Bigrock open for XC

There may not be any snow outside your window, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to wait to break out your cross-country skis.

Bigrock Ski Area in Mars Hill received up to four inches of snow during a recent storm and has supplemented that base with man-made snow. As a result, the ski area has a groomed 1.5-kilometer trail open to the public. The base depth ranges from 12 to 24 inches.

Trail passes are required and cost $10 per person. In a gesture of appreciation, Bigrock will allow individuals to ski for free today.

L.L. Bean weekend set

If you’re looking to jump-start your holiday shopping (or, for that matter, if you’re nearly done shopping and want to tie up a few loose ends), you may want to head to Freeport next weekend.

L.L. Bean will be holding its winter sports weekend Dec. 3-5, and a number of family and children’s activities are on tap. The weekend will feature interactive demonstrations, product testing, as well as sledding and snowshoeing on the company’s snow track.

Demonstrations and clinics on ice fishing and winter camping are planned and workshops will help shoppers decide what winter gear fits their activities best. In addition, the store will offer a 20 percent discount on all snowshoes, cross-country ski gear, skates, sleds and winter sports ac-cessories.

Guests that will be on hand will represent a variety of organizations, including WinterKids, the Maine Winter Sports Center, the Appalachian Mountain Club, Sunday River, Sugarloaf and Maine Huts and Trails.

It sounds like a great time. And if a holiday-season trip to Freeport doesn’t put you in a shopping mood, nothing will.

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