Thanksgiving has passed in Canada and has yet to arrive in the States. However, even in a dark time there are thanks to give.
Dark, because late fall has bitten down with a vengeance these past few days. We’ve had high winds that blew all the remaining leaves off the trees then lashings of rain to make them mushy. Daylight Saving Time went away so now the dark is gathering with cruel speed before 5 o’clock, and the days will shorten for a few weeks more.
On Saturday, after what Winnie the Pooh would’ve called a blusterous day, we had some light, and I mustered the children to help with our leaf-covered front lawn. They squabble often and at high volume too, but on this occasion pitched in with a will to rake and scrape and shovel. The clean cool air felt good in my lungs, and in only a couple of hours the front walk was clear and really quite a lot of the lawn also.
And just in time too, as the rain hunkered back down. I went out into the wet dimness to see about dinner and dropped by our local full-service butcher, whose presence is something to be thankful for. I had them carve off half of a big grass-fed organic prime-rib roast, but when I got home realized it was way too much for the family so impulse-invited friends over for Sunday.
Sunday morning we went to Granville Island to fill out the dinner menu then I settled down with my 12-year-old and his new Wii game, “Kirby Returns to Dreamland” or some such; boy, is the Nintendoverse ever weird. After, I edited photos and watched some football; this year’s NFL season is also pretty weird.
I loaded up the space around the meat in the roasting pan with yellow potatoes and orange yams, the spuds lightly buttered and the yams peeled. Lauren made an apple crumble with super-tart Pink Lady apples from the market. I steamed broccolini and sprinkled them with a bit of walnut oil; then the guests showed up with a big spinach salad and damn decent red wine.
They didn’t show up happy; their 12-year-old, our own’s good buddy, was having a school crisis and spreading strife. Ours had fought through his own crisis last year, and hearing our story helped them I think.
So did the wine and roast and especially the potatoes and yams, which were divine. It’s really hard to top high-quality tubers, prepared with love and without haste.
Also, we had a fire. This meant I got to split wood, which is immensely satisfying. Some of it was from our poor late lamented backyard pear tree that came down a couple of years ago. The five-year-old hadn’t seen this before and was fascinated, covering her ears and shrieking with glee as the dry timber fell gracefully apart under the axe.
The pearwood flame was quiet and hot and aromatic. We and our guests ended the week a lot happier than we started it.
Life is hard. If on one day you can be happy, give thanks. As an unbeliever I’m fine with just giving thanks to the day for the day, and to my friends and family for what they are, but if you want to assign credit elsewhere, go ahead.