Sunday, November 29, 2015

Happy holidays!

Pakeha New Zealanders often feel some ambivalence about Waitangi Day, our day of national identity, related as it is to the impact of colonisation on our indigenous population.  Yet as the preparations for Thanksgiving kicked into gear this year, I saw little evidence of a similar ambivalence here. My reactions to this were mixed - surely we should recognise, acknowledge the damage caused by colonization? And yet, the idea of a day where a nation could feel unambiguous gratitude seems to me such an opportunity for grace.  

And so it has proved. These last four days have been so relaxing and sociable, and such fun. We have enjoyed the company of many friends, starting with a day out with Susanmarie and Sofia:
The girls objected to being part of political photography: "This is history in the making," I said firmly, "go stand by that cow!!"

A trip to Shelburne Museum with Susanmarie and Sofia (joined by Ellen and Bruce once we settled in for lunch in Shelburne Village)

Thanksgiving Day was spent with Bill, Dee and their wonderfully hospitable family and friends - a day of feasting and good company.

The girls are keeping an eye on the resting turkey

The turkey was amazing - tasty, succulent - and HUGE. Bill, you are a turkey chef extraordinaire!

A Thanksgiving tradition...note the "kiwi pie".
 My friend Kathy and I spent a morning in a cafe in Vergennes, catching up on news and comparing cultures. And then that evening, we were invited to a dinner at the beautiful home on Coyote Ridge of our friends Sharon and Gary, where the wine flowed and the conversation was sparkling!

Thank you for such a lovely evening!
We have watched Zombie movies (at Lizzy's insistence!).

Because, of course, zombie movies fit into a holiday weekend...???

We joined the crowds in the Mall on Black Friday (where I learnt the hard way about queuing in American shops).

I have enjoyed long solitary walks around Long Point  (many photos of which appear in my previous post). Now that so many people have left, I get to explore their decks and walk on their private beaches (don't tell!).

The girls have been doing homework in a leisurely fashion.

 And today, we got up very early and set off for Underhill, home of Poorhouse Pies. We first encountered a Poorhouse Pie when we visited Jericho to take a look at the local artisans' craft market. We stopped at the General Store (which is a delight in its own right) on the village green, and there on the counter was a peach-cherry pie which really wanted to come home with us. After that, we made it our mission to find some more.

Poorhouse Pies are made in the middle of nowhere, and one of their well-kept secrets (divulged by Susanmarie - no, I stand corrected, Sharon) is that, on holiday Sundays only, they sell an amazing range of doughuts, available from 8am until they're all sold out (before 10am). Their flavours are eclectic: Boston cream, French crullers- regular and salted caramel, peanut cream softys, s'more softys (gluten free), pumpkin spice, lemon pistachio crudnuts, jelly filled, maple glazed, maple bacon, cider, mocha, cinnamon twistys, doughknots, and cinnamon cheese rolls were amongst the delicacies advertised for today.

 As we drove through the countryside just after sunrise, it felt as if the whole of Vermont was asleep. Soft sun shafted through the trees, lighting tiny white churches, red barns, shuttered russet homes set in forests, rocky streams, and silent villages: we saw no-one.

Towards Underhill, the signs started to appear at intersections: "Pies this way." We turned into the street housing the pie shop - and there was the ...(pause while I make a translation in my mind) line. It was -4 C, but people were standing happily outside the tiny shop, chatting and blowing on their hands.

Lizzy has her own approach to standing in line...

Occasionally the door of the shop was opened by people with happy faces carrying boxes of doughnuts. Finally we made it inside the warm shop, with quick decisions to be made!

Meanwhile, Bruce found the self-service pie shelter just along the road: it contained two large freezers, a set of prices, and a place to put the money. Apparently that is how the pies are sold on days that are not Holiday Sundays.

Now, we're home.  The girls are back at their homework (at least I think that's what the noise from upstairs signifies). My thoughts must turn to work - this week is going to be a busy one - though I could happily use a nap. And as the holiday comes to an end, we have two visitors.


And it snows.

At the end of this holiday, I'm back to thinking about Thanksgiving and what it means. Perhaps it is right that there is so little ambivalence about this day. Maybe there should be days atonement, for grief or anger - and days for simply loving the world as it is, and all that has made it so. For my family next year, Waitangi Day will be a day of Thanksgiving, a day of gratitude and celebration. You're all invited.

ps please say hello to the newest member of our family. This is Luca. We can't wait to meet him!


  1. I have always liked the American's Thanksgiving Weekend. I know that we really need to be thankful every day, but at least this annual event is a national focus :-)

  2. I am now SO hungry, and I have no pie in the house. Nor doughnuts. Not even any turkey.