As I was sitting and contemplating writing my next outdoor article with Max, my black lab and constant outdoor walking partner, it occurred to me that the world is just getting overwhelmed with so much negative news that something needs to be written about all the great things we have to be thankful for. Let’s forget about politics, climate change, invasive species, insurance, hate and greed, and pause to look around at what we sometimes fail to see.
We live in a part of the world blessed with water, an abundance of natural resources and a public that values these treasures. We have 67 state parks, nine recreation areas, nine state waysides, 23 state trails for a total of 267,000 acres. Minnesota is the home of five national park sites and 42 million acres of state forests. The state has 11,842 lakes over 10 acres in size and some of the cleanest water in North America.
Our air quality here too, for most of the year, is exceptional, and Minnesotans have long supported measures to keep our environment safe and clean. Yes, there are pressures to develop land, drain ditches, construct pipelines and reduce farmland, but there are checks and balances that are in play that give thoughtful discussion to policies that impact those decisions.
Minnesota has an abundance of wildlife — lakes that are still great for fishing, woods that are alive with deer and squirrels, and an array of songbirds that is second to none. Then there are the moose, the northern elk herd, black bears, turkeys, eagles, hawks and lightning bugs, yes, lightning bugs, which are really beetles, but not seen in most parts of the world.
In Minnesota, it is possible to jump in the car and drive for a short distance in any direction and see all these wonderful resources. Resources that perhaps are taken for granted when they should be celebrated and appreciated more often.
There have been a number of recent studies that indicate that people who take just a few hours a week to spend outdoors have a healthier life than those who choose not to do that. It could be a walk down your local road or a short bike ride though the woods or a trip to the local park. Who knew that could really be healthy?
So take some time to stop and think about all the wonderful things we have in our lives to be thankful for and share those thoughts with others. We live in a special place. Get outside and enjoy the marvel of our outdoors. And oh, by the way, be sure to check for ticks when you get back in the house!