A Christmas wish, brief version, minus materialistic desires:
-- May this latest storm further blanket our mountains, for the benefit of skiers, snowboarders and resort operators. More important, may it saturate a landscape that remains so parched that creeks remain dry and waterfalls without cascades. We need lots of precipitation in 2008-09.
-- May the economy improve sooner rather than later. This would be our Christmas miracle. Being forced from a home onto the street is the worst possible kind of outdoors experience, and it should not be happening.
-- May children receive more gifts that introduce them to our spectacular natural resources--surfboards, skis, snowboards, hiking boots, binoculars, tents, fishing poles, etc.--and fewer computerized gadgets that contribute to obesity and create a disconnect between kids and their parents.
-- May more parents get out of the house with their children, to a lake shore, a state park, aboard a whale-watch boat or wherever there is sky and a vast surrounding. Most outdoor activities are inexpensive. Generate fond memories. Instill an appreciation for open spaces and critters that inhabit them. You won't regret it.
-- May Japan and other whaling nations stop the slaughter. Most if not all species of whales were on the brink of extinction at one point in our recent history. Haven't they been through enough?
-- May people lose the taste for shark fin soup. Unlike whales, sharks are being driven methodically to extinction because of the demand for this so-called delicacy and the brutal practice of "finning" live sharks. This is perilous for sharks and the environment. Is a bowl of soup worth all this?
-- May more people go green. May we see fewer Hummers and Suburbans and more hybrids. May the warming trend reverse (another miracle, please) and may the polar bears somehow survive the shrinking of their icy realm. People are trying, and that's a positive first step.
-- May at least some of your Chritmas wishes come true. Happy holidays, everyone. May better times prevail in 2009!
-- Pete Thomas
Photo credit: Greg Zook, Big Bear Lake Resort Assn.