Once upon a time when our area was underwater

there were no parks or trails or trees or gardens.

I’m thankful that our mountains rose from an ancient ocean

so we could enjoy this beautiful place we call home. 

I’m thankful for the Bigleaf maples

that shower me with leaves as big as saucers

as I walk in Henry Cowell along the river trail

and for the giant redwoods that sprouted long ago 

at the time of the Mayan civilization.  

I’m thankful for the Five-fingered ferns that grow lush along 

the lower parts of Fall Creek 

and for the canyons, hiking trails and small waterfalls

that feed the year-round creek.

I’m thankful for the sweet music of the violist 

who practices inside the Felton Covered Bridge 

and for the sound of children laughing as they play in the park.

I’m thankful for the pond and western turtles who live at Quail Hollow

and for the unique sandhills, grasslands and redwoods, too, 

and for the plants and other small creatures that live only there.

I’m thankful for Bonny Doon where you can see both the Pacific Ocean 

and the San Lorenzo and Scotts Valley

and for the resilience of the people recovering after the fire 

on the mountain made of sandstone and shale.

I’m thankful that California’s oldest state park, Big Basin, with its waterfalls and lush canyons 

and slopes covered with redwoods sorrel, violets and mountain iris

will recover in time as will the salamanders, banana slugs, marbled murrelets

and red-legged frogs who make it their home.

I’m thankful for the whisper of the wind blowing across the water at Loch Lomond

and for the gentle whir of fishing reels at the edge 

of thick tanoak, redwood and madrone.

And finally, I’m thankful for friends and family and neighbors who share all this with me. 

There’s always something to be grateful for. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.


Jan Nelson, a landscape designer and California certified nursery professional, will answer questions about gardening in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Email her at [email protected], or visit jannelsonlandscapedesign.com.

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