Thursday, November 26, 2015

Cross-Cultural Bird Portage and November Rain

I did not have a religious upbringing. But like many European first generation secularists of their era, my family compensated for their breach with faith by being tremendously superstitious. As a child I could not recite a single prayer. But I possessed an extensive knowledge base of things that were in the general category of "bad luck" and could result in "jinxing." There were certain things you just could not do. And there were things that could not be spoken of out loud. It was considered bad luck, for instance, to talk openly about anything good that happened to you, or to admit to being happy - lest this "tempt fate" to take that away from you. In equal measure, it was considered back luck to talk about anything bad that happened (I now only vaguely remember the logic of that one, but something to do with tempting fate to show you that "things could always get even worse"). So what could you talk about? Admittedly, not much! The weather. Philosophy. Books you've read. Now that I think of it, bicycles seem like a pretty safe topic also.

When my parents moved to the US, our first few Thanksgivings were fraught with anxiety. All that thanking and praising and oversharing happening all around us! ...Not to mention the historical problematics of what was actually being celebrated. But with each passing year, this strange, annoying holiday whittled away our will to resist it.  Perhaps it was the contrast between the stark November days and the turkey's golden glow. Perhaps it was the opportunity to celebrate without religious symbols or the pressures of financially ruinous gift-buying. Whatever the reasons, by the time I reached adulthood, Thanksgiving became my favourite holiday - the one full of good memories and the one I always looked forward to. So the other day, when an Irish friend asked whether I miss the US (I have not been back to visit in over 8 months now), I unthinkingly replied "Well, only around Thanksgiving" - before realising that meant ...now!

What followed was a request to recreate the prototypical Thanksgiving meal here. And as a result, this morning I found myself cycling, through the countryside, in a dense fog, with a hefty dead bird lashed to my front rack. As sharp drops of rain pelted my face, the situation struck me as inexplicably funny. And like a madwoman, I pedaled, giggling out loud, while the turkey jiggled in its wrapper, the puddles glistened around me, and cloud descended ever lower over surrounding mountaintops. In this moment, if I weren't superstitious, I'd nearly say I was loving life, with all its unspoken-of joys and sorrows over the past couple of years.

Then again, better not jinx it! And so instead I will get busy preparing this turkey. And perhaps a cocktail. While wishing all my friends and readers a lovely day - whether filled with mealagrisian festivities or otherwise!

25 comments:

  1. Veloria!

    Happy Thanksgiving! Try not to deride the pilgrims to much, they had been thru a traumatic experience, truly we could all learn a lesson about being thankful from their example. It is important to look at history thru the eyes of the people that lived it, not from the microscope of hindsight. As a Christian, I would only like to redirect anyone to Christ message, love your neighbor as yourself, love God, love your enemies, and we are all redeemable! It is with great sadness that I witness this message usurped by self serving religions world wide. But, many a good work continues to be performed by those called to serve in Christ name. I personally know that thousands have been educated, thousands have been treated (health care), and clean water service has been implemented by Christians inspired to be of service for Christ. The message, which seems to upset so many secularist, is still love God, and love your fellowman. Personally, I have never understood why that is such a problem for anyone. Anyway, enjoy the bird, I brine and then smoke mine and they always come out great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have absolutely no problem with your religious message. Or with your turkey preparation methods!

      Delete
    2. And a happy Thanksgiving in return to Ron Bell, though I do question his decision to inject sectarian divisiveness into what should be a celebration of the somewhat universal human values of loving thy neighbor and being thankful for all that has come to you during the year. That message is certainly not exclusive to Christians around the globe, nor is it universally practiced by all who claim to follow their Christ. So for Ron to say that it is being usurped by self-serving religions (read: those whose dogma Ron disagrees with) worldwide, I think is entirely inappropriate in a forum whose purpose for existing revolves around a community of people of all beliefs/faiths who simply love their bicycles.

      In other words, to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. And maybe this isn't the time and the place (or the holiday) to extol the virtues of one sect over another.

      Delete
  2. Valeria, that was so too. Happy Thanksgiving.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "This morning I found myself cycling, through the countryside, in a dense fog, with a hefty dead bird lashed to my front rack."

    If that isn't the beginning of a fantastic suspense novel, nothing is.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've just had a particularly rotten day at work and your lovely post above took all the bad day away. For a moment there, when picturing you laughing with happiness whilst on your bike, I was instantly transported to those moments when I, too, was so happy pedalling along on my bike that I laughed out loud. I've had many such moments, often for no particular reason at all other than "joy", its a feeling that you can almost smell and it whips around you transporting you to a better place, then it's gone again. Anyway, all of this reminds me that what has happened will no doubt happen again, many times before I shuffle off this coil hopefully!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love this post, and I love, love, love that photo! Happy Thanksgiving. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. "mealagrisian" AND "historical problematics" in one post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Everyone else seems to be doing "twofer" promotions, so I figured why not!

      Delete
  7. Thank you for this! Happy Thanksgiving!

    ReplyDelete
  8. On this day, I was thankful that I didn't get frostbite while running in the 5k Turkey Run, which happens to go right by our house. It was 8 degrees F at the start, and I cycled to the starting line. I was also especially thankful for the frosty pint of Hefeweizen that I was served at the finish. Yesterday I had planned to bring my own 15-pound bird home on my bike. But I had to run several other last-minute errands that were too far away. Perhaps next year I'll partake in turkonneuring. I think you might have just invented a new sport!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's been pretty cold here, and we even got a dusting of snow, twice, so far. Need to get going knitting some gloves!

      Delete
  9. Haha I know just what you mean about the superstitiousness. My formerly Catholic dad is the same! It's changing one set of rules for another.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Not quite daring to feel completely dissolved in happiness in fear of what might happen? Or is it just the illusive bread and butter everyday feeling of common, average happiness?

    ReplyDelete
  11. The purple Viking must be working out well for you as a market bike. Another reason to be thankful, I suppose! That is a really fun picture, and beautifully composed, as usual.
    Both of us here at Friedrich Heights looked knowingly at each other about the superstition thing.

    How did your friends like the turkey?

    ReplyDelete
  12. And your next challenge transporting a live goose in a hessian sack, A speciality round your neck of the woods. Once saw someone win one in a Christmas raffle.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Maybe this is off-topic but how do you determine proper exposure for photos (like this one, and the sweater in your last post) where the subject is quite dark? Do you manually step down the exposure, or is your camera smart enough to figure it out and not over-expose? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I control the settings manually. And on days where the light is bad, I overexpose to bump up the contrast and make the colours more saturated. Otherwise everything just looks kind of bleh!

      Delete
  14. Your bird and bike survived much better than my delivery experience. Like you it was a day of biking with food strapped on in pelting rain, miles in the countryside, to friends and festive times. To photograph me and the bike and the results would be laughable. Doesn't matter, everyone knows I do things by bike. How do you keep your machine and cargo so clean in the inclement weather?

    ReplyDelete
  15. You weren't the only one carrying a turkey on her bike. I carried one on my bike, except that I lashed it to my rear rack because I don't have a front one. It was kind of a nervous ride because I couldn't see it as I was pedalling, and I was afraid it would fall off, but it made it home just fine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to hear it! I once carried a very, very large chicken on the rear rack - but inside a pannier. Got to say, even worries of escape aside, I prefer front rack carry.

      Delete
  16. So how was our gluttonous holiday received by your friends? Any favorite side dishes that were new to anyone? Always curious how our holidays are viewed by other cultures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tried to downplay the gluttony of it and only make a civilised mini-feast. The (handmade & not too sweet cranberry sauce + meat combo got the biggest reaction.

      Delete
  17. Turkey aside, what model of brake levers are those? Really admiring the bicycle!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! They are VO City Levers
      http://store.velo-orange.com/index.php/components/brakes/levers/city-bike-brakes-levers.html

      Delete