Studies show that gratitude can change our lives. It doesn’t cost money, it doesn’t take much time, and the rewards are said to be enormous. Regularly expressing gratitude is credited with improving physical and mental well-being, enhancing empathy and reducing aggression, improving sleep, and increasing self-esteem. Apparently it doesn’t even matter if we are able to come up with anything we’re grateful for. Just the exercise of trying to think of what we’re grateful for takes us out of negative patterns that keep us down.
What better time to improve our overall well-being than the dead of winter? For the next 30 days, we’re going to express our gratitude for the animals, the plants, and the landscapes that comprise The Couchiching Conservancy. We invite you to join us by taking on your own #30daysofgratitude exercise.
Day 13: The perfection of nature: A deer trail through a dense forest, unexpected orchids and spring ephemerals, fresh cranberries from a bog that will make your eyes water from the flavour, the solitude of forests, and a log to sit on after a long hike…
Day 12: People who are planning for forever. The next time you’re feeling cynical, remember this: The Past Presidents of the Conservancy hold a vision of raising ten million dollars as an endowment for this organization so that there will always be funds available to keep the organization going, no matter the political and economic climate. They named it The Heartwood Fund. In just three years, 44 people have pledged 1.9 million dollars. Feel better?
Day 11: Trees! Monuments to time, trees ground us, shade us, shelter us, cut the noise, reduce our stress level and give us something to look up to. We’re proud tree huggers.
Day 10: Carthew Bay Nature Reserve. Do you ever take a fall drive along Lakeshore Road through the great tunnel of colour the forest has created there? Part of that canopy is the Carthew Bay Nature Reserve. John and Betty McCulloch donated this 9 hectare property in 2002 out of a concern for the heavy cottage development that was taking place in this area. Their thoughtful act will ensure that this special place will remain in its natural state forever.
Day 9: Our Members. Conservancy members show up in droves for our Annual General Meeting because they know they have a real stake in the organization and because they know that together our work is making a difference. Couchiching Conservancy members are thoughtful, community-minded citizens who are practicing Conservation every day.
Day 8: The Church Woods. Immediately behind the historic St. Thomas Anglican Church in Shanty Bay is The Church Woods. This ten hectare stand was donated to the Couchiching Conservancy in 2006 after a mammoth community-driven fundraiser led by Tim Crooks. They managed to raise the hearty sum of $600,000 and the Township of Oro-Medonte provided a supporting grant. The property owners then generously donated the remainder of the land value.
Day 7: Hobnobbing with Naturalists and Environmentalists. Our newest staff member, Courtney Baker, puts it this way: “I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, and the cross-generational knowledge I receive at the Couchiching Conservancy is of the highest quality. I feel privileged to have met many mentors at the Conservancy, and honoured to pass on what they teach me to others. It’s just the kind of stewardship we need to keep our home healthy.”
Day 6: Elliott Woods. Our region has Don and Heather Elliott to thank for donating this 7 hectare property to The Couchiching Conservancy in 2006. The property is a good place to see a Scarlet Tanager and hear a Wood Thrush. It also shelters a wide diversity of ferns and wildflowers.
Day 5: Community: Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” We have thoughtful, committed citizens by the hall-full, and we are together changing our corner of the world for the better.
Day 4: Carden Alvar Provincial Park. Every spring we look forward to the ethereal winnowing of the Wilson’s Snipe and the sight of Prairie Smoke weaving in the wind. This globally-unique Alvar is home to numerous threatened and endangered grassland species. The wilderness of the Carden Alvar has no equal in this region, or in our hearts.
A coalition of organizations including The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ontario Parks, and The Couchiching Conservancy collaborated to purchase Cameron Ranch and Windmill Ranch. When combined with a donation of 100 acres from the McDonald family the three properties were handed over to Ontario Parks in 2014 to create the 4,700 acre Carden Alvar Provincial Park. The Couchiching Conservancy continues to manage the Park.
Day 3: Birds “Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul.” Hundreds of bird species call The Couchiching Conservancy Lands “home”. What a blessing.
Day 2: Bill Grant & Grant’s Woods. William “Bill” Grant donated his family home and the 52 acres it stands on to the Couchiching Conservancy in 2002. Mr. Grant’s gift has become the showpiece for the conservation work of our Land Trust. We remember him with fondness and admiration, for this modest man has created a legacy of true lasting value. Photo of Grant’s Woods trees covered in snow by Deb Halbot.
Day 1: Our Founders. In 1993 a small group of volunteers met around a kitchen table out of concern for our region’s forests, wetlands, and grasslands which were slipping away. Their solution was to form The Couchiching Conservancy with a mission to protect nature for future generations. Every year since then, they have continued to follow through on their promise. Gratitude for the foresight and determination of these founders: Gord Ball, Janet Grand, Bill Holdsworth, Si Lowry, Ron Reid, Ken Thomson, Adam Thomson, and Shirley Thomson. #30daysofgratitude
Dorthea Hangaard is Project Manager for the Couchiching Conservancy. Aside from everything expressed above, she is grateful to work for an organization that doesn’t make her brush her hair, and for her exceptional and kind co-workers. Contact her about Citizen Science (including the Water Quality Monitoring Project) and Landowner Stewardship Projects. email@example.com