The sun is up on this Fourth of July, but here in the Almartha valley it hasn't quite made its appearance yet.
It's a work day on our farm, and this is the lane I drove along as I traveled to the pasture where the men are working. I stand near the gate to help turn the cattle into the pen. That, plus fixing my farmboy's lunch, is my contribution to his workday.
I got to cross this little creek, which is one of my favorite secret places. It's not really a secret, sitting right beside a county road, but it feels so secluded and private. I used to bring Chip here for his bath. I still call it Chip's bathtub. Our grandchildren love this place, too. The water is icy, but it's refreshing on a hot summer's day.
Last year on this holiday, all our creeks were dry, the pastures were brown and crisp and we were searching far and wide to buy hay, since there was none to put up. The temperature was in triple digits. It was not a day to celebrate.
This year, we are blessed beyond measure, with abundant grass and early mornings cool enough to almost need a jacket.
I'm filled with thankfulness this morning, for the difference a year can make, and for the privilege of living in this country. It's not perfect, but I wouldn't choose to live anywhere else.
Last week, I heard Garrison Keiller comment, " This is a great country, and it wasn't made so by angry people. We have a sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren in better shape than however we found it. We have a long way to go and we're not getting any younger."
May it be a HAPPY day of celebration, whether you're working or playing, grounded in a deep appreciation for what it signifies for all Americans.