For thanksgiving we walk over and back across a long floating boardwalk four times and toss fallen apples amongst each other while moving at quite a clip through … wow, what a splendour of colour. We drink wine, play very silly games (almost pee ourselves from laughing), make and consume three meals (turkey at the last) then watch some excellent films while food comas anchor us to the couch.
Morning coffees face the sunrise on the upper balcony of a dignified old Queen Anne house, one of two that have anchored Fifth Avenue E. this past century and a half. Our conversations bring many cultures to the table, Gene Sharp’s ‘From Dictatorship to Democracy’; The English Royals; how to make proper Cuban cigars; to buy or not to buy a Maclaren; cats without fleas. Old carpets from the auction house, the reliability of Change, the mud on our boots.
It is a satisfying time indeed, with a great deal to be thankful for.
I bring a little hot plate and make two different kinds of iron-based ink with wine, tannin, ferrous sulphate and extracts from bugs and roots. Iron Gall inks have been used around the globe for centuries on official documents and letters – they go down as a light grey then oxidize into a rich, permanent black. I’m looking for a soft, subtly coloured grey this weekend, rather than a black.
Turns out that Pomegranate gives a good olive-grey, and madder root a violet-grey when mixed with wine and ferrous. We all play with these, ink pen on a little 12″ x 12″ canvas – a Thanksgiving co-creation now downstairs in my ink room covered in acrylic gel.
When it’s dry tomorrow I’ll throw the full spectrum of inks I’m made onto it in honour of the spectacular, many-hued trees we’ve hiked through. It will be interesting to see how the colours I’ve made shift between now and December in the light – an echo of this weekend’s temporal splendour.
Gratitude is complex; strong memories thread through the joy this year. As the geese fly overhead I feel a deep heart-pang that both my parents are gone, that those silly games and conversations, those grand abundant meals with all the progeny gathered are now ended for my birth family.
Grief and Thanks walk together.
I sense a more general hauntedness, too. In the grocery store the carts are less full, there are fewer hugs and a reliable percentage of us now wear masks that cover our smiles. We are gentler with each other, more thoughtful, less demonstrative. I notice many more people on the street who look broken, lost – the inevitable consequences of a housing crisis that exists even here, in a town of only twenty-two thousand.
Do I miss the relative innocence we had before the global pandemic and its’ fallout? I don’t think so. But I can see and feel that we are profoundly changed. There is no reliable ‘normal’, now.
I wake at 2:30am, startled by a group of loud, drunken people who chorus home from the Pub. It’s impossible to sleep through their braying, but this is alright. Snug in a 5th Avenue bed with my food coma I’m grinning again, all poignancy dissolved in the howling exuberance from outside.
O, but this life is rich and full of colour. It’s Thanksgiving 2022, and together we are here.