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updated: 11/23/2010 12:46 PM

We are surrounded by reasons to be thankful

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This November opened my eyes to an abundance of reasons to be thankful beyond my cherished family, friends and traditional Thanksgiving festivities.

First, I was truly thankful the other day, mindful of the 25 mph speed limit on our neighborhood street, when I noticed a blue BMW on my tail in my rearview mirror. Fortunately, the horn honker eager to get around me noticed my flashing turn signal and eased up, eliminating most of my anxiety when I needed to turn left.

More and more, I'm beginning to appreciate the strategy of some drivers who tell me they map out directions to destinations with right turns only.

I'm thankful to live in a city that embraces patriotism where more folks attended this year's Veterans Day observance at Veterans Park than anyone can remember. Plus, not only do public buildings fly American flags high on poles, many citizens fly the flag every day in front of their homes.

I'm thankful the man I recently encountered feeding the ducks along the DuPage River was receptive to a little enlightenment. When I politely pointed to the "Do Not Feed Wildlife" imprint that's now stamped in the concrete low flow path along the Riverwalk, he zipped his bag of bread crumbs and said, "Thanks. I didn't know."

His response was quite unlike the visitor who startled me by questioning my "authority with the village." (The "village" reference was the clue she was a visitor in our city.)

"I'm so sick of all this political correctness regarding the environment," she snapped.

I appreciated the gentleman's willingness to learn as I explained a local common sense campaign to educate about the hazards of feeding wildlife that coexist among us, whether ducks, geese, coyote or deer. A simple search online for "Feed bread to ducks" produces a plethora of supporting information.

I'm thankful to live in an active community where many local citizens have filed nominating petitions to run for city council in the April 5 election. And other hopefuls have picked up packets with interest to serve our other governing bodies.

At a time when thoughtful and practical solutions to public compensation and balanced budgets need to be the center of attention no matter what the revenue streams, much-welcomed qualified candidates with innovative ideas could create a competitive campaign season.

I'm thankful I've begun studying the stark structure of trees that stand with a beauty of their own.

As the gorgeous fall colors disappear and shorter, colder days approach, I've branched out to include spring plantings on my Christmas list. Much time and money is spent toward new and sometimes unproven "green initiatives" and I wonder why more public effort is not given to the tried and true energy savings that come from caring for trees, shrubs and climbing vines around buildings.

Go "green" with shade-producing trees on the west and south sides of any building for as much as 20 degrees cooler in the summer, according to energy efficiency experts.

I'm also thankful that tree-care experts now are treating the ash trees along the Riverwalk from Main to Eagle streets in an effort to help protect them from infestation of the emerald ash borer. Also, some neighbors have teamed up to treat their ash trees that just might save energy and save cash while saving a bunch of trees from the pesky insect and pre-emptive cutdown.

Finally, I'm thankful for this space to remind readers that you just can't believe everything you see in forwarded e-mails.

The other day, a message chock full of fun trivia popped up espousing that our eyeballs at birth remain the same size for life, but our ears and nose continually grow.

All the better to listen, I thought. All the better to keep a nose out for news, I mused.

I checked with an optometrist.

Fact is the human eye is about 17 mm to 18 mm in size at birth and doesn't grow much, reaching about 21 mm to 22 mm by adulthood. The visual development of the eye is usually complete by age 7 or 8, but the physical size of the eye will continue to increase until age 18 or so.

If you received that e-mail of trivia, I'm thankful you're reading this story.