Thanksgiving is my all time favorite holiday. Primarily because that is all it is about. No presents, cards or commercial hoopla. Just gathering with family and/or friends to break bread and be appreciative of each other and life in general. Nothing more, nothing less. To give thanks is to be aware of what is going on in one’s life. To be present and mindful of everything that is happening, be they wonderful or difficult, gives perspective to where we are, how we got here and where we might choose to go. For this we are thankful.

For myself, working in the garden, being close to nature offers constant guidance to staying mindful. The seemingly small miracles teach big lessons. Diligent work such as regular weeding and tidying not only cleans up the garden but the labor also weeds out the negative thoughts and feelings I might have felt at the outset. The sowing of seeds and planting of bulbs remind me that it takes just a little worthwhile effort to create beauty in the world. The help I receive from the birds and insects to grow this garden teaches me that we achieve great things when we work together. The risks a bird takes to raise her young tell me that despite the naysayers I too can take that leap of faith to do what I believe is right.

Through gardening I know that it is okay to make mistakes and the universe always gives more than one chance to make things right. The past is over, how I live today is up to me and that will determine the future. Events such as the squirrels devouring all the fruit or the weather ruining expectations serve to keep me humble with the knowledge that forces greater than me are in control. What choices I make in how and what I use to make this garden thrive, directly affect how I thrive. In essence, nature is my ever abiding teacher that keeps me centered and points me to my true north.
For this invaluable gift I am forever grateful.

My wish for you is that you always have plenty to be thankful.

Response to a much asked query:

Who is responsible when a tree belonging to one person falls and/or damages the property of another?

Given recent events, this has been a dilemma faced by many.
The matter is complicated. By law, as I understand it, the tree owner is liable only if he/she was negligent. That is, the tree posed a clear danger, was diseased and therefore weak in health, was warned about the likelihood of it falling etc., but the owner failed to follow up. Otherwise, the person on whose property the tree fell is responsible for tree removal and any damage caused. It was simply “an act of God” type of incident.
This clearly does not seem very fair and it is because the law was set when we were still a mostly rural country. As we got more urbanized and houses were built in closer proximity, the problem is not so easily addressed.
The insurance carrier might be called and, depending on the circumstances, they might pay a part of the expenses. However, when a natural disaster places them in a very costly situation, pressing them for certain things puts the policy holder in a position of either not having the policy renewed or having the deductible raised in the future.
Litigation might seem like a natural course of action for some people. But really? Does one truly want to have conflict with the neighbor next door? Is this the best we can do? What happens if the law that favors the tree owner is upheld? There are always big consequences to suing anybody.
In my view, the best approach is for both parties to split the cost of tree removal and repairs. I’m not saying this is simple. After all, it might not be within a person’s means to shell out what can be a large sum of money. But I have confidence that if one keeps an open mind, is non-judgmental and willing to negotiate, then both parties can come to an amicable solution. Calm and rationale must prevail. It can be an excellent teaching moment for the next generation as well as other neighbors.
I know of two neighbors who came up with a creative answer. One paid the whole bill while the other tutored the first one’s twins in math for a whole year.
If we can resolve such problems in an intelligent, considerate and cooperative way, maybe then we can really think that world peace is a realistic possibility.

A visiting Tom.

(c) Shobha Vanchiswar 2012





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