Tom Durkin: Appreciating gratitude |

Tom Durkin: Appreciating gratitude

It’s been raining in windblown torrents. I live in a small, 30-year-old trailer. The relentless noise on my metal roof is annoying. The falling acorns are even more annoying. It’s cold. My internet is down, costing me a job assignment.

What’s my attitude? The rain is wonderful! We need it. I have a roof — and it’s not leaking! I have my own home — shelter from the storm. I have heat. My phone still works, so I could tell my client I’d been knocked offline. There will be more assignments.

What’s more, I have a stove for cooking. And food to cook. I have a warm shower and an indoor toilet. I have a bed, a computer, internet (most of the time) and a car. I love where I live.

The way I look at it, I am richer than most of the people in this world. What I have is far more important to me than what I don’t have. I take nothing for granted.

I have an attitude of gratitude. I count my blessings every day. Even my problems are blessings in disguise.

What’s your attitude? Is there something or somebody you have forgotten to appreciate?


A few years ago, I was facing homelessness. Again.

Some people I barely knew, let’s call them Duncan and Laura, offered their pop-up trailer on their dozen-plus acres of wildland property while I tried to find a place to live. I’d never even been inside a trailer before, but it was better than sleeping in my car. Again.

A few weeks into my visit, Duncan dropped by. “We like you. You can stay here as long as you like — but you can’t stay in this trailer!”

“You’ll freeze to death,” he grinned. He went on to say if I could get a trailer, I was welcome to stay.

I was overdue on a years-long waiting list for a subsidized apartment, and they wouldn’t tell me where I was on the list.

So, I started looking for a trailer. I found a deal on an old fifth wheel I could afford. I had some money. Some dear friends matched it. And I could get a cash advance (at 27% interest) on one of my credit cards to buy the trailer.

I was volunteering at the time for local nonprofit One Source — Empowering Caregivers. When I told the executive director, Donna Raibley, about my plan, she said sharply, “Don’t do that.”

Two hours later, Donna handed me a slip of paper with the names of a dozen people who had donated $1,515 to give me the rest of the money I needed to buy the trailer.

Gobsmacked. Stunned. Verklempt. There are really no words to express how I felt. I cried. I couldn’t speak. I was traumatized with gratitude.


Around my birthday in August of 2018, Duncan helped me set up my new trailer and move in. At the end of that very long day, Duncan stuck out his hand, looked me in the eye, and said, “Welcome home.”

That was more than three years ago. With Duncan’s permission and guidance, I dug a sewer line into the leach-field septic system for indoor plumbing. I converted the “living room” into fully equipped home office with the internet I need to work from home.

I am happier here than I ever was in the $500K, two-story home I once owned on five acres off North Bloomfield.

This is my home. I am filled with gratitude to all the people, including the ones I haven’t mentioned, who have made my home here possible.

From the cockles of my heart, I appreciate you all.


What I don’t appreciate, and what makes my blood run cold, is the fact that it is illegal to live in a trailer on private property in Nevada County. If the county finds me, I will be evicted, and Duncan and Laura could be fined (hence their pseudonymous names).

This is not right. There is no affordable housing in Nevada County, including the cities. There are both housing and homeless emergencies going on.

Trailers and RVs are a great, untapped housing resource, not only here but all over the country. If people can live safely, cleanly and peacefully with permission on private property, why not?

Yes, the county enforcement is mostly complaint-driven, but even if the trailer is not a health and safety hazard, not involved in unlawful activity, and is occupied with the permission of the property owner, eviction is inevitable, according to county Director of Building Craig Griesbach.

He said it’s state law. Hey, county supervisors and council members, the state is putting people in trailers right now. How about declaring a moratorium on enforcement, except for cause, while the housing/homeless emergency lasts?

We’d appreciate that.

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer, editor and photographer in Nevada County and a member of The Union Editorial Board. He may be contacted at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User