Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving: Wriggle your toes

Please do forgive my Ronnie Corbett way of coming round to the point of my post.  It is the thought of spending Thanksgiving lunch with my friend Curt that takes me on a circuitous journey via The Two Ronnies.

Ronnie Corbett -- my hero
It's five in the morning on Thanksgiving day, with temperatures close to freezing outside, unusual for our little Mediterranean micro-climate, the cold air blowing through the thin windowed walls.  The Maharishi is in the kitchen with NPR, making stuffing. I'm in bed with the shivering lesser spotted (the more I know her, the more I think she might be a whippet not a dalmatian), her more hardy sister, and giving thanks for the fact that the power is on, after a power brown-out last night which rendered the oven and appliances useless. There is cranberry persimmon relish waiting in the bowl to be pulsed (with thanks to the lovely Allison Anders for the recipe), a second cranberry, pear & walnut sauce in the fridge,  and there is a chicken liver & thyme pate to be whizzed up with a little brandy and cream.  Brandy has been replaced by calvados (our drinks cabinet seems to be full of rum and various bottles of tequila and I have no idea who drinks these things, but it is a sad state of affairs when a bottle of brandy can't be found. Again, I know, first world problems.) Did I say that it's very, very cold in Los Angeles? Did I say that we're not used to or prepared for this?  My mother, who has arrived safely, is wearing a puffy pink down waistcoat wherever she goes.  "I'm jolly glad I brought this with me" is this year's variation on "Yours is the coldest house I've ever been in." The table is laid with pumpkins and candles and there are flowers in the sink in the garage waiting to be cut and put into jars.  Silver has been borrowed (I have enough for 18 only), glasses brought down from the tops of the shelves, washed, put on trays.  Two children are now in the house, not one.  He's home and taller and thinner and his grins more winning.  Soon our little cold house will be warm and full of people, and the sun will come out, and there will be trifle and pies and a roast bird (the Maharishi is using the smoker this year).

Pear, brandy & walnut cranberry sauce from Food@52
And amid the chaos, we give thanks for all that we have, for friends and family and this beautiful world we live in, and we think about those less fortunate with empathy and compassion.  And we give thanks for ninnys like Sarah Palin who insists that we "stand with our North Korean allies" and for our dear President Obama, who just needs more time, people. 

The other day I found something odd but interesting on the internet, something about people who experience the beauty of this world don't start wars. It was as simple and prosaic as that. But it does strike me (and what do I know?) that if each one of us could just walk in the world each day for a few minutes and try to "see through our looking" (as my friend Wendy puts it) -- a tree, a bird,  the way that the wind blows through the fountain grass, then perhaps we wouldn't be so angry, so aggressive, so hell bent on blaming the other guy. And so, on this Thanksgiving day, this is what I hope for:  More tree-hugging.

With all gratitude to the source and no attribution (please help me dear reader, if you recognize it), here is an excerpt. And to whoever wrote this, thank you very much:
"To those that would make war:
Take a journey for one year around the globe.  Travel by boat, car, bicycle, train, and aeroplane.  Walk mountain paths and desert roads, swim in rivers, lakes and in the sea.  Glide in an open aircraft, hear the whisper of air in your ears, and feel the sun beating on your skin.  Walk along a deserted beach with a full moon in the evening sky, stand by a big bonfire and cook your supper by its flames then quench your thirst in cool streams of mountain water. Wriggle your toes in the sand and breathe in the warm mists of the sea. Dive off a rock into a mountain pool or found a busy school and sit still, listening to the children playing in the yard. Eat ice cream on a sunny day and stand in the pouring rain with no coat on. Go fishing in the river or sailing on the sea. Sit down and write a poem to the one you love most or go for a walk as the sun goes down outside your tent. Climb a tree, learn to ski, or teach a child to build a snowman. Pick apples or grapes at the harvest and enjoy windfalls as the sun goes down. Each fresh fruit from a smiling vendor at the market place. Have supper in the piazza with people you have never met and wish them well like old friends afterward. Listen to the song of birds in the tree, see the eagle soar in the air far above you, and sit on a cold night with a warm cup of coffee and tell stories around the fireplace...Gaze up into the clear evening sky and try to count the stars or sing a song to your loved one...Then you will find it is in the simple things in life that the true beauty of this earth shines through. Those that would fight have no conception of real beauty. This is their real need -- to feel loved and at peace..."
starry sky with perseid meteor shower
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.

And here's a holiday treat, especially for you -- Curt Smith's new single "This Is Christmas"

I must go.  There is cooking to be done.  "Come look at my stuffing" says the Maharishi in his most comely voice.


Kate said...

As an English girl I always wondered what my American relatives ate at Thanksgiving and your meal sounds fabulous. Loved the sentiments of this post (as always).

legend in his own lunchtime said...

In the process of making your caramelized squash, now that the power has been restored. Happy thanksgiving.

curious said...

Oh, love that new banner. Happy Thanksgiving.

Northern Snippet said...

Poignant words.
The Sarah Palin thing scared me a bit(it was widely reported over here),do you think its possible she could ever be elected?
Hope not.

Jackie said...

I love the excerpt you quoted because that is exactly what I am doing (minus the fishing and the ice cream eating). And having done just a fraction of those things has made me think war and violence as nothing but stupid.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Miss Whistle said...

@Kate - thank you; I think ours is a bit of an American/English hybrid (my friend Wendy brought the best bread sauce ever)

@legend - dying to know how the caramelized squash turned out!

@curious - oh i'm so glad you like it, feels a bit more jolly and festive

@NorthernSnippet - if she runs, it'll be the best thing for the democrats, so here's hoping...

@Jackie - i'm so glad that you've found us and I look forward to seeing your blog!

Miss W