Whether you’ve been revelling in second summer or hastening toward your morning PSL (who are we to judge?), it’s undeniable that the seasonal shift is happening. The earth has stood still, ever so briefly balanced between day and night, on the vernal equinox, and went on spinning, tumbling toward darker days and longer nights to come.
Next week we celebrate Thanksgiving, a day that has become somewhat muddied by the American model, by a shared pace of life that leaves little time for gratitude, and perhaps even by our collective removal from the food that fuels it. Any attempt to suggest returning to the roots of the holiday comes with some mix of colonial discomfort and construction paper belt-buckle imagery.
Here’s what you need to know: Indigenous peoples of this land have been celebrating the harvest long before Puritans or any other Europeans arrived. Back then, and even in 1957, when Canada first declared the second weekend in October to be Thanksgiving, the end of fall’s harvest season really meant something.
It was a time of plenty, which proceeded a time of lack, or at least greater simplicity. The season was precious, and literally life-giving. It was a time when eating locally, and in season, was often the only way folks could eat at all.
This Thanksgiving, we’re aiming to connect with the place where we are, and with the foods that come from that place. We’re wondering what kind of gratitude might come when we experience food not as a product, but as a relationship with the land?
We’re guessing that when we approach the family table with that degree of connection, a turkey from a local farm might be a better expression of gratitude than a Butterball. If you’re in Guelph, check out the options at their “farmers first” market.
These past few years, we’ve made an early October tradition of picking some wild high bush cranberries, or feral apples along the roadside outside a nearby village. Sharing a foraged food brings with it a connection to the land that can then be shared around the table. Not much storytelling is inspired by that tube-shaped canned cranberry jelly, we’ve noticed.
If you’re stumped for how to use the excesses of the season, check out the recipes from our pals at Well Preserved, who have built a connection to their food and old-fashioned gratitude through preserving.
As winter’s long nights approach (and even in this fast-paced world, there are still just as many days between the equinox and the solstice as there ever were), take some time to feel the changes, to enjoy your fill of sunshine, and to say thanks, to your farmer, and to the land.