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Grateful for Surprises

photo of waterfalls

As we drove 3,000 miles one year as a family to visit colleges for our son, I marveled at how large our country is—and how many beautiful places it holds, many hidden off the common path.

In the Northeast, we visited Maine, where forests cover 83 percent of the state. We drove through the Berkshires and the Taconic Mountains in the Northeast where rivers have carved deep gorges and bluffs. We climbed the Warren Dunes with its mountains of sand along Lake Michigan. Our hearts soared when we stumbled upon the blooming tulip farms along the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

“Gratitude is a kind of seeing, an awareness of the magnitude of the gift of this earth,” writes Kathleen Dean Moore in The Pine Island Paradox. “To see the world gratefully is to be endlessly surprised by the bare fact of it, its beauty and power and everlastingness.”

One of my biggest surprises happened when we visited Silver Falls State Park, southeast of Salem, Oregon. The state park includes the Trail of Ten Falls where you can hike and discover 10 waterfalls, including four that you can walk behind. Silver Falls State Park also is a temperate rainforest, averaging more than 80 inches of rain a year, making it a lush, green paradise.

How do you see the world gratefully? What’s surprising you?

Written by Jolene Roehlkepartain.