Be Thankful

The North Platte in Autumn

Thanksgiving is almost here, and like millions of others, I’m thinking about some of the things I’m thankful for. Right at the top of the list, of course, is my wife and our family, and that we had the remarkably good fortune to have been born in the USA.

Our clan has been remarkably blessed with good health, wealth, and genuine happiness. Our kids, their wives, and our grandchildren are all gems — happy, well adjusted, successful, and just plain fun to be around. We hunt, fish, and camp together all year long and celebrate every holiday we can with each other. There is ongoing peace and harmony in our family, and it’s hard to ask for more than that.

I’m especially thankful to live in Colorado — and a small town. It was a farm town when we moved here in 1976, with a population of around 25,000 — corn, beet, and wheat farmers mostly. The crop fields are shopping malls and condo complexes now; the population is nearing 80,000, and I often find myself griping that the place is beginning to look like New Jersey … till I meet someone from New Jersey who marvels that we live at the edge of a national park and two national forests. That’s something I’m thankful for too.

I recently stumbled over a publication from the 1995 Colorado Division of Wildlife that stated there were over 65,000 miles of streams and 2,000 reservoirs open to public fishing in Colorado. Think about that for a minute: 65,000 miles of public streams! That seems like a lot of water. Heck, it is a lot of water. Not that you’d want to, but if you could jog upriver in your waders simultaneously casting a lure or fly to the fish, you’d be lucky to cover even a few miles of river a day. And yet, if you were wild enough to try, it would take you over 35 years of jog-fishing at 5 miles a day — every day — to make one high-speed pass through each mile of Colorado’s public trout streams. If you fished at a normal, leisurely pace, it’s likely you wouldn’t live long enough to fish them all, especially if we threw in the additional 2,000 reservoirs. The thought is sobering, yet comforting: “So many rivers, so little time.” You know you’ll never get to fish them all, but you’re welcome to try if you so desire.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Dennis Smith is a freelance outdoors writer and photographer whose work appears nationally. He lives in Loveland.