Aztext Press

Life Off-the-Grid

I Am Thankful

By Cam Mather

I read a great book that said that one of the keys to happiness is being grateful. Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend. I am grateful for that. I think it’s a nice chance to spend a long weekend with family, almost 3 months away from the chaos of Christmas.

I am thankful to have four seasons, and I anticipate each one with great enthusiasm.

I am grateful to our chickens for being exceptional at converting grains and grasshoppers into a very protein dense little package that helps me get through a day of manual labor.

I am thankful for dark chocolate.

I am grateful to the Stone Mills Volunteer Fire Department members who give up their time to make our community safer.

I am thankful for Dr. Pepper (and potato chips,) that I indulge in once a week (sometimes twice on special occasions… like Thanksgiving.)

I am grateful to the many wonderful healthcare professionals who made having to deal with Michelle’s breast cancer last fall, as good as an experience as one could hope for in such circumstances.

I am thankful for potatoes that allow me to store a winter’s worth of food in the root cellar for free and be ready to start next year’s crop in the spring without spending a penny.

I am grateful to the protestors who are taking to the streets to tell the powers that be that Wall Street has run things long enough, and that the U.S. doesn’t need dirty oil from the tar sands. The original off-gridder Henry David Thoreau “got” the concept of civil disobedience and helped inspire others, and I am grateful to him for that.

I am thankful to the staff at Starbucks who save up their coffee grounds for me to pick up when I go to Kingston, and have kept tons of organic material out of a landfill while nurturing my blueberry plants.

I am grateful to Morgan the Wonder Dog who warns us when cars pull into the driveway and keeps the coyotes at bay.

I am thankful to the researchers at Bell Labs that created the first solar panels in the 1950s that allow me to live with all the creature comforts of modern society, far from the maddening crowd.

I am grateful to my parents who allowed me to be a kid as long as I could and let me find my own way in the world. It was a long and winding road, but a pretty great one to travel.

I am thankful for coffee. I cannot get this monkey off my back, so I am just going to give up, embrace it, celebrate it and appreciate it.

I am grateful to the farmers and workers in warm climates that grow those wonderful beans that make the worldwide coffee addiction possible.

I am thankful for the 3 tablespoons of crude oil with the energy equivalent of 8 hours of my manual labor, that allow me to use a chain saw or rototiller to do a day’s worth of work in less than an hour, and still have energy left to do other stuff.

I am grateful to our cats for bringing such joy to my high school sweetheart.

I am thankful for having the best neighbors on the planet that have made our integration into country life… awesome.

I am grateful to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniack who developed the computer that I use every day to earn my living. Their design makes it more tolerable for me to do so.

I am thankful for Captain Crunch. But only once a year.

I am grateful to Steve Harrison and the engineers at the Queen’s University Solar Lab that developed my EnerWorks solar hot water heater that gives me 60% of my hot water for free, with no CO2 emitted to the atmosphere. It’s the coolest product ever.

I am thankful for the farmers that grow all the food that I don’t, whether they are orange farmers in Florida or grain farmers on the prairies. They contribute far more to our lives than lawyers, financiers or politicians.

I am grateful for the birds and owls and wildlife that provide the soundtrack for life at Sunflower Farm.

I am thankful to have two exceptional daughters who bring me great joy and in whom I am infinitely proud.

I am grateful to a Saskatchewan preacher named Tommy Douglas who shared his vision of a universal healthcare system paid for by the communal wealth of our society. This system allowed Michelle to experience the exceptional system that grew from his vision, and it didn’t cost us a penny.

I am thankful to all the musicians from Led Zeppelin to Joni Mitchell to Jon Bon Jovi to Kurt Cobain to Sarah McLachlan and a thousand other artists who have brought such great joy to my life.

I am grateful to the workers and engineers at Ford and Honda who make products I shouldn’t own and drive, which I try and use as little as possible, but when I do, are pretty darn great.

I am thankful for that great big glowing ball of fiery gases that comes up each morning and that my plants use to grow food, that the trees use to make my firewood, that my solar panels use to make my electricity and hot water, and that is warming my office as I write.

And last but now least, I am thankful every day that I am given the gift to get out of bed and enjoy all these amazing wonderful things.

Happy Thanksgiving!







  1. Me ... Nancy

    Well said Cam, a wonderful read and a mental kick to the brain to be “thankful”. I am “thankful” you have reminded me to give “thanks”.

    Have a safe, joyous and “thankful” Thanksgiving!

  2. Antoinette

    We are Thankful for people who teach us alternatives to the norm, and kick start us to think outside of the box. Thank you Michelle and Cam, from Gary and Antoinette

  3. Linda

    …and I am thankful for Cam and Michelle -for sharing their lives and knowledge ……an inspiration to all of us

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