Vol. 22, No. 5,514 - The American Reporter - September 7, 2016

by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
Dummerston, Vt.
November 26, 2009

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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 card.

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 stay warm.

  • 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 here.
  • 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 the harvest.

  • 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 joycemarcel@yahoo.com.

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