Archive for November 2011

Hello from Yesteryear

November 18, 2011

How about having a Thanksgiving feast with a touch of the 17th century? It is quite possible around this time at Plimoth Plantation. Plimoth Plantation? Yes, Plimoth Plantation is the living history museum of the 17th century in Plymouth, Massachusetts, just 45 miles south of Boston and a few miles north of the Sagamore bridge of Cape Cod. Plymouth is traditionally associated with the image of the first Thanksgiving celebration in 1621, perhaps better defined as a harvest celebration. The Pilgrims joined together with the “People of the First Light”, as the Wampanoag Native Americans refer to themselves, who had helped the newcomers survive their first harsh winter.

I never tasted a Plimoth Plantation turkey dinner while living on the Cape, but I tasted a variety of Wampanoag dishes when I was accepted as their friend and later became co-author and publisher of one of the books dedicated to their heritage — Son of Mashpee.

Now in Tucson — far away from Cape Cod and Plymouth — I am planning our Thanksgiving with a touch of southwestern style. However, while on the Cape in September I visited Plimoth Plantation and took some photos to share with you a little of its ambiance.

“Plimoth Plantation is a private, not-for-profit museum whose exhibits include Mayflower II, Wampanoag Homesite, the 1627 English Village, the Crafts center, the Nye Barn, and changing gallery exhibits. Each exhibit presents a unique aspect of the story of 17th-century Plymouth and the people who lived there,” as their brochure informs. The spelling of the name, Plimoth, also comes from the 17th century.

Indeed it is a rare and fascinating place. There is a lot to see and learn in Plimoth Plantation, but I can offer here just a small slice of what I saw — like a sliver of the traditional pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.

On entering the English Village one gets enveloped by sights, sounds and smells from a far away past. The costumed role players of the village inhabitants are effective in convincing visitors that it is indeed the year 1627.

The Wampanoag Homesite in Plimoth Plantation is scenically located at the mouth of Eel River where their mishhoons, canoes made from hollowed-out tree trunks, are resting. The dome-shaped wetuash covered with bark and cattail reed mats was a comfortable summer dwelling. In winter the Wampanoags would move deeper inland, to their winter homes.

Everybody needs some bread! Every culture makes it a bit differently. In Plimoth Plantation visitors can learn how to make and bake corn bread. Kids especially are fond of that activity. I was watching them with great pleasure on that sunny September day, but could not quite dismiss the thought that in November and later months with cold and often wet days it could be a very different experience.

That visit into the past made me feel more appreciative of the conveniences in our contemporary life. So I am grateful for our comfortable homes with warm bathrooms and modern stoves.

Have a joyful time cooking, dining, and gathering on this coming Thanksgiving!


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Text and photos (other than photo of Wampanoag Native American gathering) copyright © 2011 by Alicja Mann.

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