12 October 2015

A Canadian Thanksgiving

After nearly a month in Connecticut we were up early to get the train from Milford to New York. Sandy kindly got up in the middle of the night to take us all to the station. She also made sure we got on the right train as there were changes that Alan would not have noticed till too late! The journey to New York began in the dark, but it was light by the time we got there. A quick taxi ride from Grand Central Station took us to Pensylvania Station, where we had a wait before we were able to board the AMTRAK train to Montreal.
                                            The AMTRAK waiting room 

Our journey now took us along the Hudson River which was navigable for big ships and sail boats as far as Albany in New York State. We had fine views from our seat, though Alan did doze for some of the time.

At the border Alan had to show his passport and answer some questions put to him by a gun packing pretty femail immigration officer, who did notice us, but left us in peace! Then we watched the sun set as we finally approached Montreal.
On arrival it was a short walk for us to our Albergue where we spent the night.
Unbeknown to us under the bed was a heating element which ran all night and by morning the metal bedframe was so hot, Alan could have burnt himself on it! He was up before the other three gentleman in the room and had quite a stuffy head because of the extreme warmth in the small room.

After breakfast we packed and had a wander round town as we had plenty of time before Pat and Dan  came to collect us. It was a joyous meeting after some five months had passed since we parted in Santiago. We had a great lunch in "Dunns" a very special smoked meat sandwich restaurant in downtown Montreal. Then we set off to see the city from a hill top vantage point.
We then had a three and half hour drive to Brockville where we stopped in a great little restaurant for a pizza before going home to Pat and Dan's lovely home. We were given a lovely room at the front of the house.
We slept like only bears who hibernate would know, deeply. The next day was sadly overcast and cold, a truly Autumn day.
 Alan then spent the morning with Dan learning how to make black powder cartridges. Together they then made 125 of them.
 The afternoon was spent learning the finer points of baseball. The Toronto Blue Jays are the only Canadian baseball team which are playing in the major US league and they had made it to the post season playoffs. These playoffs are a best of five games series and we watched the first two being played in Toronto against the Texas Rangers. Sadly the Blue Jays lost the first two games!
The next day the sun came out and now we could really appreciate the views. 
We were up early as it was the Saturday before Thanksgiving to go to the market and shop, while Dan and his son Alex went to play golf. It was quite cold and Dan and Alex even had to wait an hour before playing as there was frost on the greens. The autumn sun though, worked on the flowers in the market like a super trouper theatre light and really put them in the spot!
We even found a bear masquerading as a bee showing off the beeswax candles to good effect.
Pat also bought an orange cauliflower which will probably be rich in vitamin A and is not something we or our BBF has seen before.

Sunday Alan went with Pat and Dan to the Thanksgiving Communion Service at the 180 year old St John' United Church.
They have a lovely pastor Reverend Heather who had a warm welcome for Alan. Pat in the quoir  was called upon to introduce him, which was a big surprise and made him standup so that all the very friendly congregation could see him and who they were talking about. It was a privilege, he said to take communion with them all.

Back at home we witnessed another tradition when Pat with the help of Alex and Chris hauled out the floating dock on their jetty for the winter. The boats, a canoe and two kayaks had already been brought up and stored under the deck out of the reach of the snow and ice which will come with the winter.

Nibbles before the dinner were brought out when the family began to gather and included something new to us, "watermelon radishes"! Alan said they were very tasty, but needed salt.
Pat had been working hard in the kitchen virtually all day from sun up, preparing the food. Cheryl, Pat' sister-in-law also provided even more food, though Pat did remark that, "there will not be enough!" Clearly an understatement, if ever there was one.
It was clearly an impressive spread and had to be recorded by almost everyone there.
Tradition was followed with Cheryl saying Grace, before they all helped themselves. With such good food and wine to wash it down, the conversation in such pleasant company was easy and entertaining. They were all bloated by the end of the meal and had only sufficient energy left to flop in front of the TV to watch the next set of games of the baseball playoffs between the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays, which thankfully the Blue Jays won.
Today, Monday 12 October, it being the official Thansksgiving holiday in Canada, we all had a slow start. Some of the family had to return to their homes to work and so now the lovely house is quiet and feels almost empty, but the sun is shining still.
 Alan has said to us that he feels very privileged to have been made part of the Markovich family and he will never forget this year, as so much good has happened to him during it, so he has a lot to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.