“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”
Three bald eagles hovering above a stand of spruce just west of Ball Club. I watched as the majestic birds swooped low to the ground before quickly changing course and gaining altitude like fighter jets. I remember a childhood when seeing even one bald eagle in the Chippewa was a rare treat. Now, they are everywhere. A little closer to Cass Lake, one fed on the carcass of a large, glassy-eyed doe sprawled on the side of road. The eagle kept to his meal without flinching as my car sped past.
Nineteen white tail deer in groups of two or three along a tree line between Lake George and the first entrance to Itasca State Park. That is the number I actually saw. I am wondering how many I missed. They looked unfazed as they pawed at dry tufts of grass, grazing in the November sun.
Eight huge, snow-white swans in a slough surrounded by fields full of corn stubble a few miles south. No skim of ice on the water yet so they will hang out a bit longer before making their way to wherever it is they will spend the winter. Can swans see their reflections, I wonder?
A cloud of geese near Detroit Lakes. Five wild turkeys wandering aimlessly as only wild turkeys can wander. Three rooster escapees with bright red combs who must have decided to take a chance and live a little on Highway 34.
Driving three hours between the woods and the prairie gets a little lonely sometimes. I have made this trip more times than I can count and know exactly how many miles it is between one highway and the next. I know where it is safe to push the speed limit and where I am likely to get a ticket if my foot gets too heavy. This time of year, I know that there are icy patches where the snow blows across the road from one field to the other so I slow down and pay attention. I could practically make the trip with my eyes closed in May or even September.
But November trips are different. November is the time for slowing down and counting things like blessings, certainly. Always blessings.
And in November, all the creatures, too.
So count, I do.