Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 5:12 PM on Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gratitude group finds plenty of blessings to count

Point of View

By Nancy Vait

For a month, from Dec. 15 through Jan. 15, a group of us met daily to uncover and celebrate gratitude in our personal lives. Peg Coleman, who initiated the meetings, found new readings for discussion and helped lead a friendly forum.

Our group discovered common gratitude for our Homer of 5,000-plus folks, where any two of us can hold at least three strong opinions on any one subject, where the tough get going when the going gets tough, where the worst day of fishing beats the best day at work, where friends are family, families have roots, and neighbors and strangers join together in times of joy or grief.

We share gratitude for the spacious beauty of the land and clear air — orange and gold winter sunsets; the mountains and glaciers across Kachemak Bay; the solitude of Mount Augustine across Cook Inlet; flocks of crows turning and wheeling overhead; large and small conventions of eagles holding court; sandhill cranes and swallows gracing us with their return each spring; lone pheasants crossing roads against traffic; unpredictable moose in spruce forests (especially mothers with babies); our growing trail system available for year-long use; wild salmonberries, blueberries and raspberries; fields of bright lavender fireweed in August; our long twilight in summer, and our equally long winter darkness punctuated with starlight.

We appreciate the life of our waters — the ebb and flow of tides dictated by the waxing and waning moon; kelp of all varieties; the puffins, cormorants, plovers, kittiwakes, murres, gulls and other ocean birds which migrate, nest, swim and dive near Gull Island; pods of killer and humpback whales; sea otter females floating with pups on their bellies; orange, maroon and blue-veined starfish of all sizes in clear tidepools; the bounty which supplies our pantries and freezers in winter with red, pink, silver and king salmon, cod and halibut, mussels, clams, and oysters. Lucky us.

Homer is filled with artistic, generous people — Pier One Theater; Homer Council on the Arts; First Fridays; Community School and Recreation Programs; the Pratt Museum; Homer's Community Choir; the Kenai Peninsula band and orchestra; musicians, actors, dancers, and writers who create and perform in numerous venues; band, choir, and orchestra concerts in area schools; Kachemak Bay College with its wide variety of course offerings; gardeners who volunteer to plant, weed, and water patches of bright summer flowers in our downtown.

Homer's people connect us with the past — the history of a house or street where we currently live; life before statehood; the 1964 quake; the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill; restaurants and businesses moved, closed or still in existence right where they originated; Brother Asaiah's remembered presence in our "cosmic hamlet by the sea," our good fortune and ability to reconnect with people from our own past in a new light.

Homer is the scene of gatherings and celebrations — Winter Carnival, Fourth of July, Farmers' Market, ice and dogsled racing, the Wooden Boat Festival, and the Shorebird Festival.

Our community is fortunate for its numerous not-for-profit organizations, many largely "staffed" by volunteers — Share the Spirit, the Homer Community Food Pantry, Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Sprout (formerly Birth 2 Three), churches of all faiths, the Homer Animal Shelter, and last but not least, our Homer Public Library,

In the end, Homer is always more than we can easily encapsulate. It is a dog friendly community. Canines celebrate camaraderie at the beach. City and borough workers plow, sand, grade and care for our roads year-round. We have one stoplight.

We have choices in how and where we educate our children. And we are fortunate for our network of radio and newspapers which connect us: KBBI, KGTL, Homer News and Homer Tribune.

Homerites can laugh at the bumper sticker, "We're here because we're not all there," because indeed, we have all landed here and not there for a multitude of reasons. As our mid-winter gratitude group discovered with growing certainty, we remain grateful for our daily opportunities to renew and grow.

Longtime resident Nancy Vait wrote this piece for Homer's Gratitude Group.