A needed reset

11/26/21

Well, it’s the morning after the holiday; I took last night off from blogging, because festivities ran late and I wanted to enjoy them.

I’ll start by saying this holiday brings up difficult feelings, as I imagine it does for many of you. It’s an American tradition, but the more I pay attention to the actual origins of it, the more it feels strange to celebrate a whitewashed myth about racial peace and reconciliation that does not acknowledge the tremendous harms that white people brought to indigenous people when they (my ancestors) arrived. I like to follow some Native news pages on Facebook; Indian Country Today is one of them. Here is a piece they published yesterday, telling about Thanksgiving from the Wampanoag perspective.

We have a lot of work to do in this country, to recognize and acknowledge past harms, and find ways to repair them, going forward. I think educating ourselves, and sitting with discomfort, is an important first step, so that’s why I’m sharing my feelings and this educational link here.

Having said that, I do value the gathering of families and friends that this holiday has come to represent, and the “harvest feast” aspect of it. Of course, as a vegan I also mourn all the turkeys who are bred in order for their lives to be cut short every year for this purpose. For the past ten years or so, I have mostly attended an all-vegan “Friendsgiving” with my sister’s friends in Seattle.

This year, I was blessed and honored to share a different all-vegan Friendsgiving here in Berkeley… and it was even sunny and warm during the day!

My host, Thomas, a brilliant and fascinating car-free vegan cyclist who is in the process of building a “sustainability think tank” here in Berkeley, hosted a small potluck gathering in his home in north Berkeley.

Yesterday morning, he showed me his community garden plot, a few blocks away, where he weeded, watered, and harvested many ingredients for the evening’s meal, including parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme for the stuffing! (Which he made from scratch, from a loaf of his own sourdough bread he had baked the previous day.)

On the way to the garden, we passed a madrone tree, and I was able to introduce him to madrone berries! (Another recent host told me that these are also known as “strawberry trees.”) I hope to snag another few berries from the sidewalk while I’m here in this place.

After visiting the garden plot, I took a walk around Berkeley a bit. I found it startlingly deserted, presumably because of the holiday. I walked very briefly on the campus, and then made my way up Shattuck to a beautiful little park called Live Oak. I found a little picnic-table spot by the water, surrounded by tall trees, and just sat for an hour or so, letting myself “reset” from my recent tension. It was exactly what I needed.

Then I returned to the house, and shortly afterward, people began arriving for the meal. Everyone was delightful, and the food was delicious and abundant. I got to meet Mimi, my new friend who has been so helpful to me with lodging and recommendations here in the Bay. She also brought a really fun game, Ransom Notes, which we played after dinner.

I had initially considered renting a hotel room for this holiday night, because I didn’t know many people in the area, and thought maybe a quiet, solitary place might be the best way for me to spend this holiday. But the Friendsgiving was wonderful; I’m so glad I did that instead!

I’m planning to connect with some family on a Zoom this evening, which will be good, since I’ve been falling out of touch with everyone on this journey.

But between now and then, I plan to meet up with a new local friend at a vegan coffee shop, and also head out on my bike for a bit, perhaps exploring the Berkeley marina.

It’s another sunny day in the mid-60s. I could get used to this.

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