barany thankful

“A thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.” That’s from William Blake, and I feel the same way. I love Thanksgiving, with its focus on family and friends. I have so much to be grateful for.

When it comes to natural beauty, this Valley has been richly blessed. Cowiche Canyon and Snow Mountain give us incomparable panoramas of Yakima, the West Valley and far beyond. Maybe your sweet spot is the Yakima River, Rimrock Lake or Cleman Mountain. Places like these help us define “home.”

The term “sense of place” is used to describe what makes a place special or unique. It’s those characteristics that foster a sense of deeply felt attachment and belonging. Don’t you feel it when you crest that last ridge on I-82, driving east from Ellensburg? The stunning landscapes of the Yakima Valley appear out of nowhere, welcoming us back home.

When my husband and I arrived in Yakima 40 years ago, we drove around town, looking for a place to call home. I can’t explain it, but when I discovered Franklin Park, brimming with walkers, runners and parents pushing baby strollers in the shade of tall trees, I knew this was where I wanted to plant my life.

The beauty of the park and the charm of the Barge-Chestnut neighborhood that wraps around it speak to me more than any other place on Earth. In this giving season, I want to thank my neighbors. Each day, I walk beside your gardens, enjoying all you’ve created. I’ve never been bored, not even once. You probably don’t even know I’ve been by.

When we first moved in, most homes were dressed with neat lawns and clipped evergreens. That’s what it took to be considered “respectable,” but that was about to change. I cheered when someone rocked the boat, widening the path to their front door and lining it with lavender. The next year, throwing caution to the wind, another gardener took out the grass in the parking strip and replaced it with a bevy of beautiful perennials. That’s all it took for another neighbor to make a new garden of their own. It didn’t take long for gardens of all kinds to spread through the neighborhood. What they have in common is the joyful spirit that created them.

These new gardens speak of so much hope. They remind me of my early gardening days, and the excitement that came with every small success.

You may look at your garden and only see stalled projects, or the weeds you haven’t pulled. That’s not what I see. Each spring, your tulips and daffodils make my day. Every May, I wish I could bottle the scent of your daphnes, lilacs and mock-oranges and bring it home with me. I’ve ogled the peonies you planted at the curbside, and how you interplanted them with English roses. The planting of blueberries and cherry tomatoes in your front yard was a brilliant idea, and an inspiration to all who pass by. I love your chicken coops, and Little Free Libraries. Isn’t this the kind of neighborhood we all want to live in?

And it’s not just your flowers, but also your trees. My favorite time to walk is early in the morning, just before dawn. I start out heading west. That’s when your oaks, maples, beeches and birches are backlit by what’s left of moonlight and a few glimmering stars. When I turn and loop back home, towering trees along the way are now illuminated by a sky lightening over the ridge in the east. I wonder if you know how awesome your trees are, even in the darkness? I’ll even walk a few extra blocks some spring mornings just to see if a Crape Myrtle on Barge is blooming yet.

It’s quiet and still these days, but come spring, those trees will be filled with birdsong.

Many of you would say that you’re not doing anything special; just growing a few flowers. But it’s so much more. Your gardens have meaning.

There have been mornings when your gardens lightened my heart just when I needed it most. On all the good days, your imagination and creativity encourage me to keep wishing and dreaming for a garden “just like that.”

One writer called planting a garden “an amazing, radical, and world-changing act,” and I agree that it’s nothing less. To all my gardening neighbors, and each of my readers, have a happy Thanksgiving, and thank you.

Carol Barany and her husband, John, found paradise on 1 1/3 acres just west of Franklin Park, where they raised three children and became Master Gardeners. Contact her at