DUMMERSTON, Vt. - Thanksgiving. Lists. Things to be grateful for. Whatever.
I was going to tell you all the things I'm thankful for this
year, starting with the fact that my dancer mother, who is 92, frail,
ornery, determined and living alone in Florida (with help during the
day), just survived another serious infection.
She got out of the hospital on Tuesday morning - barely. At
one point she was threatening to call the police if they didn't let
her go home.
(She claims she was joking.) As I said, ornery and determined.
Of course I was worried. But last week she was on stage,
dancing and teaching a number she choreographed many years ago to the
new performers in the show.
When I talked to her on Tuesday evening, she was back to her
old self. She was sitting in her favorite recliner, complaining about
bills and accusing the home health care agency of robbing her credit
This morning, the aide found my mother still in the recliner,
unconscious, with a pulse of 40. She called the medics. As I write,
my mother is now back in the hospital.
Happy Thanksgiving, I guess.
But I am deeply, deeply thankful that for the last 20 years,
my mother and I have had a wonderful, if exasperating, relationship.
When I was growing up? Not so much. But over the years, we have come
to appreciate each other's humor, intellect, taste in men, creativity
and dedication to work. Although she drives me crazy, I love her
inordinately, and it is just now starting to sink in that this won't
be going on forever.
Before this latest emergency, I was putting together a list
of things to be thankful for. Here's what I have:
I'm thankful - so thankful - that John McCain isn't our president.
I'm thankful for Amtrak, which gets me into New York
without making me drive among maniacs. I long for the day when we
will once again have train service across the length and breadth of
this great nation. (And for God's sake, can whoever owns the tracks
between Springfield, Mass. and Brattleboro, Vt. relent and let Amtrak
through? It's ridiculous that it takes more than two hours to get
from there to here, when you can drive it in under an hour.)
I'm deeply moved by the decision of the First Baptist
Church in Brattleboro to put their concern for people ahead of their
pride in ownership. The announcement that the congregation is willing
to sell its historic Tiffany stained glass window - the aesthetic
highlight of Main Street - to maintain an overnight shelter this
winter brought tears to my eyes.
Now that they've announced the sale, it wouldn't surprise me
if a donor or two found a way to keep the window and also help people
Speaking of Main Street churches, I'm also thankful that
the congregation of the Centre Congregational Church raised enough
money to renovate their stunning building. The steeple has the most
beautiful proportions of any church I've ever seen. When the sky is
blue, I often spend time staring up at it in breathless admiration.
The restorers did a splendid job.
And speaking of the Centre Congregational Church, I'm
thankful that we have Peter Galbraith living here in Windham County.
His lecture at the church a few weeks ago about the history of
Afghanistan and why we must maintain our presence there (in spite of
my strong desire to get all Americans the hell out immediately) was
deeply appreciated. Anyone who has the guts to blow the whistle on a
stolen election and make an enemy of Hamid Karzai is very welcome
Now on to the food. Not only am I deeply thankful for the
Scott Farm's apple CSA, but I have come to love Zeke Goodband's
apple cider. It's like wine: each batch has a different delicious
flavor and texture.
I'm really thankful for the entire food culture of the
Brattleboro area. We are very lucky here. We have an abundance of
fresh produce (and flowers) here all summer and fall, and artisan
breads and cheeses all year long.
The Dodge family at the Putney Winery cheerfully make booze
to go with it all.
For years, supermarkets have made butchers all but disappear.
Now we have the wonderful North End Butchers, where we can watch our
evening roast being carved out of a haunch of Vermont beef right in
front of our eyes.
And for those of you to whom that last sentence is slightly
disgusting, we have three local farmers markets and two excellent
food co-ops. We have many summer CSAs, and there's even a winter one
at Walker's Farm going on right now - a great idea.
People here have started to raise their own chickens, beef
and lamb. And so many more are gardening. I had 16 tomato plants
growing on my deck this summer; I have enough stewed tomatoes in my
freezer to make spaghetti sauce all winter long; and seemingly
nothing will kill the kale.
Also thankfully, we have Henry Holmeyer's columns in the
local newspaper, the Brattleboro Reformer, to tell us how to keep our
gardens alive and flourishing, and Terri Ziter to tell us how to cook
Personally, I'm thankful that the American Reporter keeps publishing this column and that you people keep reading it and asking about my mother.
I'm thankful that Fish and Steve West of WKVT put me on the air every other Thursday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
I'm thankful that some excellent Vermont magazines and newspapers buy my stories and keep me employed and writing.
Mostly, I'm thankful for my loving husband, my friends, and
for being a part of this community.
So I'm wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving, and I'll keep
you posted about my mother.
Joyce Marcel (joycemarcel.com) is a Vermont columnist and
journalist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2014 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.