Friday, November 28, 2008

thanksgiving down under

After a long and arduous bike ride, I (unsurprisingly) realized I was disastrously hungry, and had the excuse of realizing that it was technically Thanksgiving, so set out to compile a feast. The resulting dinner was lovely, if a bit lonely and light on the vegetables. We had those of our favorite traditional Thanksgiving dishes that we could create on short notice with Australian ingredients: mashed potatoes, cornbread with honey butter, a roast bird (Petra’s annual break from vegetarianism, even though all we could scrounge was a chicken), and pumpkin pies, which were only possible because of my previous careful hoarding of a dusty tin of American pumpkin. Notably missing were gravy (because I was too lazy), suffing (ditto), cranberry sauce and/or relish (cause they don’t have fresh or tinned cranberries here), green bean casserole (because all of its component parts are too toxic for Australian consciences), french silk pie (because my arms were tired enough after the mashed potatoes), and fresh grean beans (because, well, that would have ruined the starchy effect).

This year, we are notably thankful for the following:
--family (including the addition thereto of little Matthew and Thomas, and joining the Melbourne fold)
--friends (including the addition thereto of our new Aussie mates)
--the results of Obama’s election, and the possible return of hope, morality, and direction to America
--Australia’s easy lifestyle, socialized health care, and general humanity
--our continuing health and happiness and the same for our loved ones
--the glorious weather

Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving!

And, for your enjoyment, our first, rather exhausted, attempt at a video message!

Petra in the USA: hebron

Within five minutes of arriving at Lilli’s house, we were working on a project. Some things, like hope, truly do spring eternal, and my mother-in-law’s will to forge through her to-do list is definitely among them. In this instance, our task was the procurement and installation of a new kitchen refrigerator. We took a number of careful measurements, and set off to Lowes. Lowes is a dangerous place to bring Lilli. In a hardware store the size of a cathedral, her potential to accomplish (productive) mischief is limited only by her creativity (in other words, unlimited) and finances, the constraints of which serve only to inspire more creativity.

(Un?)fortunately, we successfully completed the refrigerator quest in fairly short order, at which point getting it home before the freon could displace too much deflected us from further explorations. The following day, we set up the fridge, filling with food just in time from Toby and Cmoore. Their well-trained and well… personable avian companions were traveling with them. Shy Deadalus took a particular liking to Lilli’s collar.

Best of all, we carved pumpkins! I love carving pumpkins. It’s been my favorite part of Halloween ever since sis-in-law Lisa and I were staying together on Nantucket and we carved over 50 of them for the harvest fair. I took a celestial approach to the first pumpkin. For the second, we drew inspiration from thin green striations in the pumpkin’s skin which, in the words of the Hebron Cub Scout from which we bought it, looked umistakably like hair. Pumkin-carving is the best. Seriously. What makes a better holiday tradition than a hollowed-out gourd with a candle stuck inside? What is better than carving pumpkins? Only carving pumpkins with family.

Petra in the USA: northampton

After returning from New Hampshire, I set out to visit the home of my beloved Alma Mater, the P-town of Western Mass, the crunchy crucible of hippieish intelligencia, where farmer’s fields of corn and squash overlap the manicured lawns of the local Waldorf school, and Smith College renews its annual struggle to prevent the beavers from damming the river and flooding the women’s rugby fields: Northampton.

After catching up with Caroline for dinner (she now can cook Ethiopian food – well done, C!) and falling in love with her kittens, I met up with my childhood friend Lindsay (aka Scooter). She and I rounded off the evening with some Herrell’s ice cream before crashing at her new digs – a converted dance studio above the famed Iron Horse club. In the morning, we jogged along the river and discovered a fabric sale in a lady’s front yard, where we spent some time searching for treasure.

Heading back for breakfast shortly thereafter, we came upon an exceptionally tame, glossy, and well-fed hawk devouring his morning kill with obvious relish: poor decimated squirrel. I wondered if this was the same hawk who appeared on campus in the fall of our Junior year, whom Erika and I had nicknamed “Friend”, and whose lecture-time hunts became famed for their ferocity and humor. (Erika notes: DO NOT approach hawks as closely as the photos show Petra doing, especially not when they’re eating. Petra was really pretty foolish to do this, and has promised not to do so again. KEEP AWAY from wild predators.)

After breakfast we swung by the farmer’s market, where I became transfixed by a basketful of beautiful heirloom tomatoes and some Indian corn. Hurray for native New England delights!

I do love Northampton, and it was wonderful to visit again. Does anyone know of any cute songs written to praise Northampton? There’s got to be one by now…