In this month of Thanksgiving, I’m reminding myself that I seem to do better when I have an attitude of gratitude, rather than a head full of dreadful, especially in this part of my life.
When someone asked my father how it was going, Dad would usually reply, “There’s always room for improvement.”
My father was a fine man who taught me good stuff. Now I’m old enough and wise enough to change the wiring a bit to allow for a brighter day and a lighter mood.
It begins with thankfulness, and in 2017, I’ve got a good start on my gratitude list.
First of all, I’m glad I’m living in Minnesota, which I think is a place of general enlightenment and concern about the human condition.
Our highway rest stops are still open; most of our rivers are cleaner than they used to be; and we are more diverse than we ever were. And — in spite of some troubling exceptions — we’re offering our immigrant newcomers hospitality and opportunity.
Our Twin Cities still seem vital, viable and vibrant. Minneapolis is growing, primarily due to an influx of residents to downtown, many coming from the suburbs, where they had grass to cut and sidewalks to shovel. St. Paul continues to provide some of the most livable neighborhoods anywhere in the country, from Highland Park to St. Anthony Park.
As an old police reporter, I’m grateful for the cities’ chiefs of police, Medaria Arradondo in Minneapolis, and most especially, Todd Axtell in St. Paul, who’s had the courage and candor to publicly apologize for what he thought was an officer’s excessive use of force.
On the other hand, he’s forcefully backed his cops in their battle against rising gun violence.
Woods and wetlands
In some of the suburbs, including Woodbury where I live, I’m grateful for the foresight of planners, who set aside plenty of open space, including wetlands and woods that allow me to feel like I’m walking in the wild only a few blocks from my townhome off Radio Drive.
On evenings in spring, I can hear the tiny frogs and watch the wood ducks. One of the latest gems I’ve discovered is Battle Creek Regional Park, with its rolling hills, open meadows and wooded bowers.
While the parks provide peace and quiet, the music scene in the Twin Cities is lively and lovely, from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra at the Ordway in St. Paul to the Minnesota Orchestra and Bunker’s blues bar in Minneapolis. These are great music towns, and you can hear it in church pews or on bench seats at the Minnesota Zoo. And Lord knows we seniors need to be surrounded by joyful noise.
Honesty and free coffee
I’m also grateful for some recent experiences with businesses and institutions that, although they fall short of joyful, have been thoughtful and helpful. I took my Accord into Inver Grove Honda for what I thought might be an expensive repair to the undercarriage after hitting a big chuckhole. The service techs said it wasn’t a big deal and that, no, I didn’t need new tires. They sent me on my way with a modest repair bill, a freshly washed and waxed car and a free cup of dark roast coffee.
Meanwhile, I know of the trouble that’s plaguing Wells Fargo and the recent hits to its customer relations.
But in my visits to the bank lately, I’ve been impressed by the friendly greeters, smiling tellers and fast-moving lines.
If I seem hopelessly Pollyannaish, let me temper my gratitude with a little grumpiness: I’m not excited about the Super Bowl coming to town, not in the least. Its benefits are inflated, its drawbacks are underestimated and the arrogance of the NFL makes Donald Trump seem humble.
Dave Nimmer has had a long career as a reporter, editor and professor. Now retired, he has no business card, but plenty to do. Send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.