Thanksgiving Lite, No Food Coma

Don’t laugh.

Our Thanksgiving  at the cottage was a day late, to accommodate traffic exigencies and the schedules of all four members of our nuclear family–that’s not counting our young cat, who didn’t really care when or where she got her usual ration of indoor cat pate.

And no, we didn’t have turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, white turnip (or sauerkraut if you’re from Baltimore), or any other Thanksgiving staples.

We roasted a 4 pound chicken from the Star Market, using Marcella Hazan’s old reliable recipe, with a whole lemon pierced and stuffed into the bird’s cavity.

We  baked  small Yukon potatoes and Brussels sprouts (Ina Garten style, sans the pancetta, for our son who doesn’t eat pork).

I made my mother -in-law’s pink applesauce, cooking the apples with their skins and then using a ricer to separate the skins from the pink pulp.

Cornbread  came from the box– the Trader Joe’s mix–sweeter than most cakes.

And for dessert, June’s Apple Crisp, another family standby, from The Silver Palate Good Times  cookbook.

So our bellies were full. 

And there’s still apple crisp and cornbread left over.

Both grown sons have returned to their separate abodes to prepare for the coming week. The parents are back home, the chicken carcass and leftover meat is now soupified, joined by leeks, onion, carrot and spices, for tonight’s Sunday supper, with the last bit of the applesauce. Oh, and that apple crisp.

Sometimes it feels just right to break with tradition. 

And we didn’t miss the food coma.

Thank You, America — a poem collage by Kwame Alexander

Thank You, America

The sun rising behind farm houses in the Midwest 
The clear mountain rivers in Montana
I hope we have the wisdom to treasure all of it.

A glimmer of dawn
First flickers in Maine

For the mountains. 
magnificent weathered beacons of topographical wonder.

Tengo gracias that I can speak my mind 
y no aye consecuencia graves when I do so.

I won’t lie, I struggled with this question 
With all the fighting, hate and violence 
it has been difficult to remember to be thankful. 
However, when I read stories of people who 
stand up and speak out 
for justice and truth 
I become immensely grateful and proud of America.Article continues after this message from our sponsor

Freedom to whisper against kings
My grandmother who carried her green card 
in the broken tattoos on her back

I am thankful that other people are still trying to come here.
I am thankful for the vastness of our borders and the beauty of our natural lands.

Sunshine streaming softly 
while we sip our morning coffee.
But across the oceans our troops fight
ensuring that we keep our rights, 
to give us a land of the free.
For the first responders
For hope

I am thankful for America’s history, warts and all. 
Our past, full of light and dark, 
Read the history 
of heroes and villains 
See our country for what it is.

Free Press and Free speech
to speak out against injustices in our country,

For family
For places to walk safely
places to paddle
arcades of trees
varied, inexpensive food
tools and workplaces
longtime friends who listen
tennis courts

Indoor plumbing,

to worship whoever we want, 
to say whatever we want,
to go wherever we want.

for the public libraries. 
They raise up voices whom others attempt to silence.

for diversity. 
For differences 
My son is transgender and I am grateful for those who treat HER with respect and kindness.

for Cape May; for parties on the Fourth of July; for anarchist coffee shops; for church-run thrift stores; hole-in-the-wall BBQ joints; Lake Michigan; Vinny’s Pizzeria in the 90s; beer delivery in a snow storm;

for second, third and fourth chances. 
For forgiveness. 
I am thankful that my hybrid existence, hinted by my brown skin and slanted eyes, can make sense in America.

For many spectacular parks in our nation–from the huge and awe-inspiring Grand Canyon to the tiny neighborhood park with the small playground and the pretty benches painted by local artists.

I am grateful that America can change, too. 
for the millions who take to the streets, 
challenge authority, 
insist on change, 
demand justice, 
resist evil, tell their stories,

Wrought through division
Sustained by freedom’s hope
Seeking reunion 
I am thankful for America, most of the time.
AMERICA LET’S ME CONNECT AND PLAY VIDEOS WITH THE WORLD 
AMERICA ALLOWS ME TO PLAY BASKETBALL
AMERICA GIVES ME A GOOD EDUCATION

Thank you, America,
For the mom and pop shops and rest stops.
For the back roads and the beaten paths.
For the love that greets me when I come home.

For the dream to become, 
the dream to make better or different, 
the dream to inspire, 
the dream of something on the other side 
of whatever is facing us in the moment

  by Kwame Alexander  

Reprinted from https://www.npr.org/2018/11/22/669704214/thank-you-america-a-crowdsourced-holiday-poem-that-s-a-blessing-to-read, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving 18 (collage) by Gina Maranto. Copyright Gina Maranto 2018 All rights reserved

Poetry for a Gray November Day: “At Dusk”

In the middle-aged heart
joy can bounce around  flow out
as blood moves through the arteries,
but despair can get stuck.

The two engage in battle:
joy enlisting hope, bliss, contentment–
despair conscripting doubt and anger.
A vessel of the  heart might rupture.

If I could grow the joy, I’d share it.
If I could exterminate the despair
I  would patent my invention.
Tomorrow, let’s watch the last bits of sun,
orange light fading behind the trees.

I’ll take your hand, we’ll laugh together.
This is what we’ll do before night falls.                                       ~Lynne Viti

First Snow of the Season

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After weeks of rain that left us seven inches above the average, when the raking of leaves in the yard and driveway wasn’t even halfway done, the first snow took us by surprise. Wet, fat flakes drifted onto the deck, making for an enchanting view when I switched on the floodlight that illuminated the back deck. Our cat was mesmerized by the steady stream of snowflakes. But all I could think was about my boots, not the fancy quilted heavy tread ones that I ordered last week, but my old leather boots–the ones sitting in the entryway next to the as-yet unused canister of waterproofing stuff.

I can’t find my everyday gloves, the red leather ones I wore to Fenway Park on September 25, when the fall night was raw and cold.  I can’t find my favorite scarf, the one from twenty Christmases ago. I’ve misplaced the fur-trimmed hood that zips onto my storm coat.  The ice scrapers are in the garage somewhere, lodged behind summer gardening tools and garden statuary, and lawn sprinklers. 

I’m not ready for winter.

Lucky for me the rain began in the early morning, and by the time I left for work the roads were clear.  The temperature had edged just above freezing. I grabbed an umbrella and headed to campus. On the drive in, I mentally repeated my mantra for the day: It’s not winter yet. It’s not winter yet, not till December 21, over five weeks away The forecast for tomorrow in New England is 48 F and party cloudy–or as I prefer to call it, partly sunny.

Winter’s in abeyance. And all’s right with the world, until we’re walloped with a real snowstorm.

This was’t even a dress rehearsal.

 

 

 

Veterans Day at the Little Dog Coffee Shop in Brunswick, Maine

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It’s 32 degrees on a sunny Sunday morning at the Little Dog Coffee Shop in Brunswick, an iconic New  England college town, population 20,000. The Little Dog, situated on the broad main street (named Maine Street), is abuzz with families and small children, oldsters sipping courtados or lattes  at tables for two,  and millenials eating egg and cheese sandwiches as they work at their laptops. We arrive at 9:30  when the place is almost empty. By the time we’ve had our coffee and read the news on our tablets,  there’s a long line at the counter, and not an empty chair to be found.

It’s cold enough for hats and gloves and the down coat I pulled from the back of the closet before we left for the weekend in Maine. Outside, we see  flags  at half staff, in honor of the soldiers and sailors who served in  past  wars, those of recent memory,  those going on for the last 18 years since 9/11, and those long past. Maybe I should be thinking about the wars, and the men and women who fought in them, but I’m so taken by the cold morning weather and the brilliant sunshine that I push that thought aside, happy that yesterday’s rainy weather hasn’t stuck around.

We’re only two hours north of Boston, but fall is about to wrap up here, and winter is standing by, just waiting to release the first snow onto this town.

Sunshine warms us as we walk up Maine Street, past the used records and books store,  back to our car. We head out of town and up to Harpswell, where fingers of water separate the land.

The sun dances on the water and on the bridges, and we drive on to our next Maine destination, up the road a piece.

 

My Father’s War

He’d always loved boats, being on the water.
Enlisted in the Navy at thirty-three, took up smoking, too,
signed up for top secret hazardous duty overseas.
But he didn’t go to sea—he went to

fight Japan from the ground in Manchuria,
Aerographer’s mate first class. He told us he
learned to track clouds—
Cirrus, cumulus, nimbus. Shaved his

head, all the men did, Naval intelligence said
that would fool the Japanese when they flew over. They lived
with Chinese soldiers and spies,  ate rice and whatever meat
their hosts could scare up. It might have been dogs.

I forecasted the weather, he told us, but
the records say otherwise:  First, to Calcutta for indoctrination,
how to eat with chopsticks, never insult the Chinese hosts.
Flew over the Hump, on to Happy Valley, east of Chunking.

Lived in camphor wood houses, drank water from teapot spouts.
The history books say they spied on Japanese troops and ships,
blew up enemy supply depots, laid mines in harbors,
trained Chinese soldiers in guerrilla warfare, rescued downed aviators.

When he left for San Pedro, my mother watched him pack
a long knife and a gun in his suitcase. Orders, he said. Top secret.
He told the same story twice about the gash on his forehead that
grew fainter over the years, till it was a thin line across his eyebrow.

He returned from his war malnourished, his teeth
rotting, he drank straight shots of whiskey,
chased it with beer. He brought silks embroidered by the Maryknolls,
He had the last rites twice.

He hated the Communists, Chiang Kai-Shek was his man.
I  never knew  it till after he died—he was no weatherman.

~Lynne Viti

Originally published in Light : A Journal of Poetry and Photography, December , 2016