A minister who gives me something to think about is more likely to see me on Sundays. This week, our minister told a story that stuck with me. When this pastor was a youth, he worked summers as a day camp counselor for fourth graders at Marshall Park on the western shores of Lake Mendota.
As a special summer treat, the counselors would find some garbage can-sized tubs into which they would pour water, root beer extract, sugar and dry ice. Coupled with vanilla ice cream, and you had all of the makings of root beer floats (or black cows as they are called in Iowa).
The kids would line up for their floats while the counselors filled the paper cups with root beer and a scoop of ice cream. He noted that no one got a perfect float. Some of the cups were fuller than others; some floats had more ice cream than others.
Years later, the minister still remembers the kids falling into two categories. One category of kids said, “Thank you, Thank you!”. These kids had smiles on their faces that could light up the world. The other category of kids wore frowns, looking at their cups and at other kids’ cups, and asked for more root beer or more ice cream. Some of the really greedy kids would down half their root beer floats and, without even leaving the line, ask for a re-fill. The minister remembers that the counselors called these kids the “more-mores.”
The point that the minister was making is that people who feel and express gratitude are generally happy people. People who aren’t satisfied or search out ways that life is not fair are generally unhappy people. I reflected on that during today’s six-mile hike from Marshall Park to the top of the hill at Pheasant Branch in Middleton and back again.
From Allen Blvd., I walked north to the end of the road next to the Walgreens, discovering a private trail easement that the Heins family thought to donate to the community. I was thankful for their generosity, which established a link to the Middleton Trails System and Pheasant Branch.
Ten minutes later, I was enjoying nature, and I was grateful that to the many governmental entities and volunteers who worked to establish the Pheasant Branch Conservancy, a safe place to hike in the middle of deer hunting season.
I was out here not that long ago for the first time, but I discovered a new feature: the Frederick Springs These springs feed the wetlands, producing 1100 gallons of water per minute and 1.6 million gallons of water per day. Steps lead down to one of the “boils.”
The temperature of the spring water is 52 degrees Fahrenheit, no matter what the season.
I’m grateful to the Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy who protect and maintain this valuable natural resource through countless volunteer hours.
On the way home, I stopped at Taqueria Gonzalez for a carne asada burrito and a Modelo Negra beer. I am grateful for diversity in America, good food and drink, and hard-working immigrants.