Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gracias a la vida!

Gracias a la vida (Thanksgiving to Life)
I began to put this post together before Thanksgiving--but finding the images from my crazy library, translating the poem, and hammering it into something that meant something to me at least--well, it was delayed. Year's end is a good time to be grateful still. I suppose we should be grateful year 'round! It is worth listening to the Youtube of Violeta singing this wonderful song--you can almost hear the Andes echoing it behind her lilting Inca tones. I am grateful for many things in my life--my lover and my family first and foremost, my work and friends and the great country I live in...but I am particularly grateful to live on this astonishing planet, and to so many of its most lovely corners I have been lucky enough to visit...
John Watson and Puya caerulea, Chile
Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto.                  I give thanks to life that has given me so much.
Me dio dos luceros que, cuando los abro,               It's given me two eyes, then when I open them
perfecto distingo lo negro del blanco,                     I distinguish perfectly the black from the white,
y en el alto cielo su fondo estrellado,                      and in the sky above its starry depths
y en las multitudes el hombre que yo amo.             and among the multitudes, the one I love.

Araucaria araucana on the road to Volcan Llaima
Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto.                   I give thanks to life that has given me so much.
Me ha dado el oído que, en todo su ancho,              It's given me my hearing, that in its breadth,
graba noche y día grillos y canarios,                        hears both day and night the crickets, canaries
martillos, turbinas, ladridos, chubascos,                  hammers, engines, barking, the sound of rain
y la voz tan tierna de mi bien amado.                      and the tender voice of my beloved.

T'ai Shan--one of the five sacred mountains of China in Shandong peninsula
 Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto.            My thanks to life that has given me so much.
 Me ha dado el sonido y el abecedario,              It's given me sound and the alphabet
con él las palabras que pienso y declaro:           and the words with which I think and declare
madre, amigo, hermano, y luz alumbrando        mother, friend, brother and the light
la ruta del alma del que estoy amando.              illuminating the path to the soul I love.

Jade Dragon Mts., Yunnan, China
  Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto.             Thanks to life that has given me so much.
Me ha dado la marcha de mis pies cansados;       It has given me the progress of my tired feet;
con ellos anduve ciudades y charcos,                   with them I walked cities and puddles,
playas y desiertos, montañas y llanos,                  beaches and deserts, mountains and plains
y la casa tuya, tu calle y tu patio.                          And your house, your street and your patio.

Jade Dragon Mts., Yunnan, China
Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto.               Thanks to life which has given me so much.
Me dio el corazón que agita su marco                  It gave my heart fluttering your presence           
cuando miro el fruto del cerebro humano,           when I look at the fruit of the human brain,
cuando miro el bueno tan lejos del malo,             when I look at good, so distant from the bad
cuando miro el fondo de tus ojos claros.              when I gaze at the depths of your clear eyes.

Rhododendrons in Yunnan (and pretty guide)
 Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto.               Thanks to life which has given me so much.
Me ha dado la risa y me ha dado el llanto.,           It has given me laughter and it gave me tears.
Así yo distingo dicha de quebranto,                      so I distinguish between joy and pain
los dos materiales que forman mi canto                the two entities that form my song
y el canto de ustedes que es el mismo canto,        and song of all of you, which is the same song,
y el canto de todos, que es mi propio canto.         and everyone's song, which is my own song.

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto.                Thanks to life which has given me so much.

Rhododendrons among Pinus yunnanensis in Yunnan
I shall never forget reveling among rhodies and primulas and a thousand other gems one late May in the high mountains of Yunnan...

I am deeply grateful for the beauty of the mountains I enjoy gazing upon every day from my house: here a vignette from Mt. Evans taken many years ago...

Mt. Lincoln (Colorado) tundra in late June
Here is a glimpse of the Mosquito mountains decked in their midsummer of my favorite places on earth I visit every summer...

Or here, the Mount of the Holy Cross glimpsed from the top of Vail pass at the height of summer...

I am grateful for he bristlecones on favorite grove near the visitor's center at Mt. Goliath, Denver Botanic Gardens high altitude campus.

And the yak crawling on its forelegs as it nibbles the grass in Pakistan: did you know they did that? The Himalaya in the background in October.

I am grateful for Nanga Parbat, 9th highest peak on Earth, and the morning we watched the dawn crawl down the precipitous slope--it took hours.

Fynbos at Constantianek
I am profoundly grateful for South Africa, where I have been privileged to explore on six magical trips--and hopefully a seventh in a year and a month...

I am profoundly grateful for the Mediterranean region--here, a Castle in Spain (incidentally, the rain does not fall primarily in the plain at all, but on the mountains there). And I have not shared a single picture of Greece (my ancestral home), or Turkey (even more ancestral perhaps), nor Central Asia, nor of California where I am typing this minute, nor of Northern and Central Europe where I've passed such lovely times this past spring, and in the past, nor the Great Basin, Great Plains nor a thousand other magical spots (Alaska, Florida, the magical Midwest and East of the US and Canada--and Mexico for heaven's sake--the richest country on earth acre per acre with biodiversity--the greatest richness of all)...what a wonderful planet we live on! And I am grateful for you, my fellow bloggers and blog readers!


  1. Lovely, just lovely. Thanks, and Merry Christmas!

  2. Thank you for your contribution reflective!
    I am always happy, a new post to read from you.
    Merry Christmas!

  3. I am thankful for our soldiers. I am thankful they keep us safe. I think about their children at this time of year. Especially the ones whose father's and mother's sacrificed everything for my safety. I am thankful that my child has enough food and is getting a good education. I think of the children in areas of conflict. I hope the good people of the world come together to intervene so their needless suffering can be stopped.


  4. Really inspiring, I'm thankful these places still exist.


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