I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Thanksgiving week

Lake Padden on a calm day

Anyone who has lived in Bellingham for awhile, and who also likes to go on some easy to moderate hikes, has discovered this gem: Lake Padden. If you take the loop around the lake, it's 2.6 miles, or twice around for a perfect workout distance. At least it's just right for me. I've taken this exact picture many times over the years, but there is usually at least a little breeze to stir up the water. Not on this lovely calm day, however. The lake is a smooth as glass.

It's Sunday before the big holiday when thousands, if not millions, of turkeys give up their giblets in order for the entire US to indulge in the first of the holiday traditions: overeating and consuming lots and lots of food. This year, if I had just one wish, it would be to transport half of the haul to Gaza to feed those starving and displaced Palestinians. But I cannot, so I will instead send some money to Doctors Without Borders to help them to get something, anything at all to them, along with my heartfelt prayers for better days ahead.

I've never been alive without wars going on in many different places on our beautiful blue globe. However, it's never seemed like we've had so many major conflicts at once, but it could just be because I'm paying closer attention in my waning years. The only thing I can be really positive about is that I will not live to see a harmonious free world during my lifetime. This lifetime, anyway. Maybe if I come back in a hundred years, maybe as a bodhisattva, I'll be able to be more sanguine about things. What is a bodhisattva, you ask? In Buddhist teachings, it's a being who is able to reach nirvana but delays doing so out of compassion for the suffering of others. Until that day comes, if it ever does, I'll be spending my remaining time helping others in whatever way I can.
Our human compassion binds us the one to the other — not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future. —Nelson Mandela

 Nelson Mandela lived a long and fruitful life, even if almost three decades of it were spent behind bars for his work to end apartheid. He was deemed a terrorist and a danger to society. Of course, that was because the ruling party didn't want to give up their power over those they held down. And they were facing a huge disparity in numbers, five to one, and they were scared. But as you know, once Mandela was freed, he ended up being elected to be the President of the country and apartheid in South Africa became obsolete. It must have been a very difficult time to live in South Africa. Yesterday I read the entire Wikipedia entry chronicling the major events of his life. He lived to be 95, and during that long life, he received many accolades, including the Nobel Peace Prize. And he never became bitter or angry, even after all those years locked up behind bars.

Amid growing domestic and international pressure and fears of racial civil war, President F. W. de Klerk released him in 1990. Mandela and de Klerk led efforts to negotiate an end to apartheid, which resulted in the 1994 multiracial general election in which Mandela led the ANC to victory and became president. (Wikipedia)

 I wonder if someone like Mandela might emerge once again to help heal the conflict going on right now with Israel and Hamas. Although it's unlikely, there is no reason not to hope for such an event to occur. Anything is possible, and with enough motivation, perhaps the apartheid existing in Palestine will one day be relegated to the dustbin of history.

Well, I certainly took a swerve away from what I was originally going to talk about, which is all the many reasons I have for being grateful during Thanksgiving week. I have never been directly exposed to conflict and displacement myself, but I can well imagine it. Instead, my decisions will revolve more around how to prepare for the big dinner, and whether or not I'll be able to get in some exercise. No Senior Trailblazer hikes on Thursday, it seems.

This year, I decided to buy the local community food co-op's Thanksgiving feast, all prepared and assembled for me. I don't need to do anything more than pick up the  pre-cooked dinner. I'll make some nice side dishes, maybe, just so I can get into the spirit. I'll arrange everything on separate plates, and SG and I will sit down to a stress-free Thanksgiving meal. It's my idea of a perfect Thanksgiving, although I have so many childhood memories of my mother's wonderful spread, including (of course) pumpkin and apple pies. She also made a wonderful turkey hash out of the leftovers, which for me was my favorite part of the holiday. I've tried, but I never was able to duplicate that delicious dish. Mama's magic ingredient was always missing.

A rainy hike five years ago

In all these years of hiking in the Pacific Northwest (fifteen so far), I've been incredibly fortunate to have so many wonderful places, and wonderful people, to enjoy the outdoors with. It still continues today, although the faces change, the camaraderie and mutual enjoyment of our beautiful environment does not. I will continue on this way for as long as I can, and then when it's finally time to settle into my armchair for good, I will be content. Until then, I wish you, my dear friends, a very happy and fulfilling Thanksgiving. Be well until we meet again.


ApacheDug said...

DJan, I hope you and SG have a warm and peaceful Thanksgiving.

Tabor said...

have a Thanksgiving with an abundance of stuff to be thankful for. The daughter is ordering most of the stuff ahead. I have too many carrots and they are not veggie eaters, so I will make an untraditional carrot cake. I was displaced for almost a year due to a flood in Texas and with an infant and a toddler. What does not break you, makes you strong.

Rian said...

Djan, also wishing you and SG a wonderful quiet peaceful Thanksgiving! Our kids are coming here and we will make the smoked turkey, bourbon sweet potatoes and a traditional dessert. The kids will bring the rest... and themselves. We should be about 10 around the table. I haven't had a good week (bp problems), but am hoping all will be well by Thanksgiving day. And yes, with what is going on in the world these days, we still have a lot to be thankful for. I pray every night that peace and love will win out over war and hate... (we can only hope).

Elephant's Child said...

Happy Thanksgiving week to you and SG. This is a holiday we don't celebrate here - despite having much to be thankful for.
Like you I continue to give to Doctors Without Borders. And hope.

Barbara Rogers said...

Peace workers continue the effort, while so many suffer. Thanks for your weekly words! I hope you have a good time over Thanksgiving. I'm so grateful for your blog, and all the bloggers that produce words from their lives to share here. Namaste!

Marcia LaRue said...

Wishing you and SG a peaceful and quiet Thanksgiving! Having one of the premade meals from the grocery stores or your co-op will save your energies for something else!
A friend and I will be letting the Village Inn prepare our Thanksgiving feast!
I currently have a pot of chicken noodle soup on the stove!

Coloring Outside the Lines said...

Have a wonderful holiday week. I don't know if are ages are close, butI too have never seen such a time as now with so many wars going on at once. I truly think we are going backwards and repeating history.

Linda Reeder said...

It's hard to think about the bounty of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and the suffering in Gaza at the same time. We can only be peace makers in our own place.
There will be five of us at our Thanksgiving table. Tom and I will do most of the cooking but two others will bring sides. It will be a traditional turkey dinner and I am working on keeping myself going in order to achieve this. I want it to be a happy day.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and SG.

Gigi said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and SG! So smart to order a pre-cooked meal - making it from scratch seems like an onerous task. We are going to our neighbors so all that is expected of me is a dessert.

Rita said...

Happy Thanksgiving!!
I will try not to think about the endless wars since I have been alive...and my parents...and grandparents...etc. Mankind has a lot to learn but there are still endless things to be grateful for, too. :)

Red said...

Have an enjoyable Thanksgiving. We have much to be thankful for. The wars are a worry.

Marie Smith said...

We need another Mandela in this world for sure!

Happy Thanksgiving, Jan.

Anvilcloud said...

Big week down there. Why do we always say down. You've over there, farther north than Ottawa. About 3 degrees actually, and if I am remembering that's 200mi. Anyway, have a good TG week and day.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! The view of the lake is lovely:)

gigi-hawaii said...

Happy Thanksgiving, DJan! It's hard to let go of old grudges and resentment. And when hate is involved, wow, look out.

John's Island said...

“I will continue on this way for as long as I can, and then when it's finally time to settle into my armchair for good, I will be content.” When it comes to putting thoughts into words, you are one of the best. Thank you, DJan, for sharing. John

PS Happy Thanksgiving to you and SG.

Linda Myers said...

We will be 11 at the nearby home of friends. I am grateful for all the good in my life and am hoping I will be given the grace to accept the not-so-good parts. My heart is with the children all over the world, whose own hearts are innocent.

Chris said...

I hope your Thanksgiving meal was delicious.. of course here in UK we make more of Christmas. My husband and I never have turkey but duck, its our favourite. Just us two this year and we're happy with that.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Happy Thanksgiving
I hope your meal and day are filled with much joy.

Volt Slot said...

I appreciate the sincerity and passion evident in your writing.