Canadian Thanksgiving... October 12th
It is Canadian Thanksgiving Day as I write this here on the east coast in Nova Scotia. We had a great looking weekend of high pressure and sunshine, that gave us beautiful vistas on Sunday. We woke up this morning to rain... and as appropriate for a holiday, low pressure. If you want to have a closeup of what the Chaswood Marshes close to the Oyster Pond look like this time of the year, just click on the pic, and to come back, use the arrow in your top left ...
One of the interesting aspects of Canadian life is this weekend. We tend to compare Thanksgiving here to the later one in the USA... we are earlier because we are in the north, and our harvests are earlier. This is when we have the greatest farmers markets in the countryside villages. A lot of the produce now being harvested is not only locally grown, much of it is organically fertilized... this is also the time of year when you can smell the sheep and cows, as their manure is spread on the fields to enhance next year's harvests.
The Canadian tradition is a three day weekend... always the second Monday in October. It is great here in our part of the country, because that is the time of year that the leaves in the hardwood lands seem to have their maximum colors... the reds of the maple and beech, yellows of aspen and birch, and brown tones of the oak. The European Larch trees that look like evergreens in the summer are turning golden now, and will soon loose their needles.
We see many different birds this time of year. Some are headed south for the winter... but many have arrived here to spend the winter. The feeders are out, with the black oil sunflower seed, millet, and peanuts there to give them the energy. We often think that the Blue Jays that are about are filling their pouches with enough seed to not only feed themselves, but for insulation of their nests, as well. There is a competition for the peanuts each morning, between the red squirrels and the Jays... the Jays usually get the most.
Our neighbors have different birds than we do... they don't have as much wind, so many of the smaller breeds tend to inhabit their trees... we are seeing Siskins, Crossbills, Grosbeaks, a flock of about 100 Robins, Eastern Bluebirds, Chickadees, Red Breasted Nuthatches, Mourning Doves (Paul Spike calls these "Country Pidgeons"), Crows, Ring Bill Gulls, and so on. We are also seeing several different water birds besides the many Loons, Kingfishers, Ospreys, Eagles, and Cormorants... we have seen Black Ducks, Mallards, Eiders, and Golden Eyes. Driving back and forth to Truro, I am seeing Pheasants and Partridge daily... along with deer... thankfully they are staying out of the way of the Jeep. We are getting our share of Downey woodpeckers, and Lynnda saw a pair of Flickers in the gardens last week. So, it is a normal Thanksgiving... which is great to see.
It is also great to note that Thanksgiving is not associated with Christmas. This is not the start of the shopping season here in Canada. It is, when we really get down to thinking about 'things', a time when we can concentrate on Giving Thanks... thankyou for our friends (past, present and future) without whom life would be very lonly and I sense without purpose. It is for thanking those we don't know for making this a safer place to live... our police, military, firemen and especially the caregivers like nurses, LPNs, mid-wives, doctors. It is a time we can think about those who have gone before us who wrought our country and livelihoods from only the land that they found... the farmers, fishermen, woodsmen, miners and so on. I can't imagine the pain of toil that they went through, so we can have what we have today.
And that brings me to "what we have today"... I have to ask, do we really "have" anything. The dictionary describes "have" in many ways that include to possess, own or hold. I don't think so! If the turmoil of the past few weeks in the financial markets teach us nothing else, we should learn that we really 'own' nothing. It can all go poof in an instant.
To me this emphasizes the need to appreciate what we have, share it, take care of it and then pass it on in better condition than the way we found it. None of this includes 'material' things... we are just lucky to have those... some are actually unlucky to have those (because they never realize or understand that they could lose them in an instant, and we can tell).
I have watched the upset in the financial system, that was brought on by greed, claw back much of the excess in the markets. Unfortunately, many others continue to be hurt by the greed because they will lose their livelyhoods... here at a time of thanksgiving, and just prior to the holiday season. It means that we should find ways to better organize our lives, and our systems to accomodate the needs of everyone, not just the powerful, or wealthy. As new laws are written for the financial industry, we need also to look at those who conspired in greed to break the laws in place that should have maintained some semblance of order... were it not for those who abused the laws. Those conspirators should be brough to swift justice.
Another thing that is different in Canada is that we have an election here tomorrow. This will confirm the order of federal leadership in the country. It is an opportunity to ensure that we have a strong banking system, strong laws that protect the fundamental freedoms we enjoy here... but also look to the future, and ensure that we pass on our country to the next generations in better condition than we found it... like our ancestors did for us. This is an important election becasue if we elect the same as we have, we will not pass on a better place to live. We should pass the things we give thanks for today... our environment, our culture, our values and so on. It is nice to have the material things... but without the soft things, we have no things... nothing!