chilling feet

chilling feet

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Is Thanksgiving Still On Thursday??

(our first night of wonderful eating at Simon's house)
NO ONE BELIEVED ME, when I told them how much food Sarah was going to eat.  "She looks tiny and you think I'm joking but when she goes back for thirds or fourths and then does the same for dessert, you will see the truth."

This was the conversation as we gathered with American doctors and their families living in New Zealand.  We felt right at home as for the second night in a row we sat down to fill ourselves with delicious food, "the point," as Neil explained to Regan a local police officer, "is to eat until it hurts and then eat some more."  And while it was not our family, which of course we missed dearly, the next best thing has got to be these folks!

Over the course of the two nights we ate and conversed with people from everywhere.  The stories of how we all made it to a table eating turkey in Invercargill, NZ were quite amazing.  Both dinners had a few locals mixed into the group, which was especially fun because they still tried to cook traditional American Thanksgiving food.  Our favorite was the square pumpkin pie for lack of a proper pie dish. Yes, we made fun of Shona for this, especially since we had the only other "rival dessert," as she saw it (an apple tart which tasted more like apple cheesecake).
(it was Simon's first ever attempt at cooking a turkey and
it came out great - we helped a little near the end with
some advice and tips)

Highlights of conversation:  How Nick from NZ and Samantha from Hawaii met.  When Neil, who has worked literally almost everywhere from Alaska to Bhutan to anywhere in between, told of how when he and his wife moved to the middle of nowhere in Colorado and they slowly got "way too involved" with guns and when they realized they had gone too far. And then Rick adding in his aversion to guns. And then of course I told a story about my love relationship with "Betty," which is what I call my 9mm back home.  A cool talk with Sara (still said the same way as Sarah with an "h" - they say them different here usually based on if there is an "h" or lack thereof) about her uncle in the ministry. And I would be remiss to leave out the talk of Lord of the Rings and asking people about where they have visited.  And these are only from my conversations.  Many times Sarah was in another part of a house chatting it up in what I am sure were equally intriguing discussions.

Ok.  So when I was FaceTiming (thank goodness for how Apple products can do this all for free) back home we became immersed in a different type of conversation.  What day should people in other
(the square pumpkin pie! It really was tasty)
countries celebrate Thanksgiving?  I asked this of my family because for the first time I've recognized how truly American this holiday is of course.  I mean, I have no idea why people all over the world do not celebrate with us for surviving that first winter, but they do not.  I purposed, if maybe just for arguments sake, that we should celebrate it when it's the actual day in America, since not only is this when it is deemed to take place, but also this is when all of our family and friends will be celebrating.  I was met with quite a bit of resistance on this issue, which I thought was funny because this came from a group celebrating Thanksgiving dinner on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving Thursday so that they could celebrate with the "other" side of the family the next day.  Come on.

A few changes we noticed here from back home at this time of year:
1.  For some reason the store is not filled from top to bottom with pre-made pumpkin pies.  This was quite confusing and I wondered where they were.
2.  Though we were not making pumpkin pie we had a recipe that demanded puree of pumpkin.  Nope.  Not to be found anywhere in the entire store.  Upon talking to those who did make pumpkin pies (even the square one), they had to make them from scratch!  Awesome for us, hard for them.  There is no pumpkin pie ready in a can either!
3.  Some of our American friends had some nice twists on traditional dishes.  My favorite was Neil's mixture that looked like sweet potato casserole of some kind but was actually a spicy dish that goes well with currie.  It was fantastic.
4.  The weather.  As we are now fully engaged in the thralls of a nice Spring, our Thanksgiving day (if my family wins the argument) was around 19 degrees celsius (for those too lazy to google the difference that's around 66 degrees fahrenheit). I was wearing shorts! Celebrating Christmas and New Years in a warm area will be a new experience.  
5.  So mostly it was the total absence of pumpkin pies everywhere, but not seeing some sort of pilgrim/turkey decor in stores and around town was kind of sad.

What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving? I'm glad you asked. Amidst all of the memorable experiences I am having here in NZ, I am most thankful for having an adventurous wife, without whom I may have never seen this beautiful land and know any kiwis. She is beautiful, intelligent, funny, and everything I want in a woman, so naturally I am thankful for her in general and the fact that somehow I've strung her along this far, but this year I am most thankful for her adventurous spirit.

I'll end today's post with another poem from Madeleine L'Engle.  It's a short one and a favorite of mine:

The Birth of Love

To learn to love
is to be stripped of all love
until you are wholly without love
until you have gone
naked and afraid
into this cold dark place
where all love is taken from you
you will not know
that you are wholly within love.

Happy Thanksgiving from Down Under!!

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Secret of Shells

(I'm listening to Marc Cohn this week. If you'd like to listen along click on the video to the right - he's known for the song Walking in Memphis - not sure why Marc is just lying there the whole time in this video... oh well)

Have you ever put a shell up to your ear to see if you can hear the ocean?  I remember being told as a child this was true, "Just put the shell up to ear and listen."  While I am fairly certain that in the end what my ear is detecting is simply the wind making its way through the shell, however, is it not fantastical to imagine instead that a mystical connection still exists between the shell and the ocean that once was its home?  I can identify with this idea.  As a child growing up in the Northwest corner of Ohio and quite far from the ocean, the giant conch shell my parents kept in our house was elusive and indeed magical to me.  Not only did the sound of the ocean travel through this alien object, but almost as impressively one could blow through it to create quite a horn-like noise that belonged on some ancient battlefield.  Fittingly our father used it often at the end of the day when we needed to come home from playing for dinner.  When you heard the blast of the shell you best come running!

(Shells galore.  Many of them had been bleached out
pretty badly by the sun, but Sarah was willing to take
the time to look through and find the good ones)
My wife has the ocean running through her veins.  It is a part of her, and as strange as ocean/beach life is to me, it is a home to her, a place of nourishment and familiarity.  In many of our posts I have mentioned, even centered thoughts around, Sarah's love for being near or on any beach, or anything that even resembles a beach.  And yet as I sit here and try to understand how she loves the ocean and everything about it, my heart whispers, "yes, but it is so much more."  And so it is.  The peaceful delight that comes over Sarah when she is walking down the beach is unexplainable.  There is no walk that is too long, no shell that does not deserve utmost attention and likely also upon close inspection may simply have to be brought home. The cold wind might wrap it's weary arms about her but she notices it not (which says a lot because Sarah does not like to be cold).  Wind battered and smiling she saunters along, arms full of all of the shells she can carry, and every time we leave is too soon.

As we finished all of our walks out at Sandy Point (though there are still trails not marked on the map), we found a long string of beach that connects past Whaler's Bay and heads up yonder to the rest of Oreti Beach.  It was not part of why we came out that day but of course we had to walk it - there is no point in even arguing it.  "Ok honey, let's walk down the beach but I'd still like to hit the trails we came for so is it alright with you. I'd like to leave enough time to come back and do them tonight."  She nods in agreement but I know better. As soon as she hits that beach it is going to be almost impossible to wrench her free of it.  So we walked, enjoying the weather and views.  I wondered if this part of the beach were ever wide and flat enough for the Burt Monroe motorcycle
(What a beach!  Forest at it's side... very peaceful)
races, figuring in the end it probably was not at this particular portion of the beach.  Sarah bounced along as happy as could be, searching the beach for washed up treasures and thinking, I can only assume based on her face, of puppies playing with newborn babies with freshly baked brownies nearby (that is really how happy the beach makes her).  Some moments we walk hand in hand, while others we spread out a little so we can investigate various finds.

And then it happened.

We wandered upon what must be at least a football sized section of the beach absolutely filled with shells. I am not sure if Sarah gasped but she might as well have for I know she was doing so on the inside. It was pretty difficult to get Sarah to leave this find.  I was ready about five minutes after we arrived upon this smorgasbord of shells, while she was still slowly meandering back and forth through it (as she was "working on leaving"), and this was even after I promised I would bring her back and let her wander to her heart's content.

(The lagoon did not offer the best
pic so here we are posing in front of
it. Smile for the lagoon!)
Well in spite of my worry, we still had plenty of time to make it up the trail to the lagoon.  Fortunately at this point the sun does not go completely down until after 9pm - quite nice.  We strolled past an amazingly dark wooded area, which as far as I could tell was due simply to the closeness of the trees and their blocking out the sun.  I have never seen such a dense set of woods and I found it difficult to look too long into the darkness of those trees (I know, I've watched too many movies and read too many books for certain).  The lagoon was nice, the mysteriously dark trees intriguing, and the wild life along our trail beautiful, but the whole time it felt as though we were not walking on the beach to me.  I do not think Sarah felt this way as she had left the beach behind, but still it lingered, crowding out our lagoon (as well maybe it should for there was not much to see of said lagoon).  It was a like a third person walking down the trails with us.
(The photos did not quite capture the
darkness but I tried)

Thinking back to conch shell my parents kept at home, if I close my eyes I can still hear the ocean through that shell in memory.  So far from the shores and yet there was the ocean reaching through to me.  Sitting in New Zealand I feel perhaps a little bit like the shell itself.  Do I seem as strange to these Kiwis as that shell did to me?  I wonder can they hear the rushing winds blowing over the Northwestern corner of Ohio?  Can they smell the slow cooking ribs of Memphis on us?  Hmm, such strange thoughts and though right now they seem quite normal and I almost hope it is possible for my home to reach through me into this distant land.  I suppose in ways that it does, as New Zealand reaches into us and mold us some too.

(Hey, I like the beach too, just not like whatever Sarah has for it.  Not yet.)