Archive for the ‘Travels’ category

Weekly Photo Challenge: Layers

November 21, 2013

Commonly the word layers is associated with layers of rocks or bricks, layers of sweet tasty cake, or layers of clothes – especially now when cold days are on our horizon. However, there are several meanings of this word. Here is one of them: layer – “a hen kept for egg production.”

Chicken in their coop

Here are my photos of “layers of layers” traveling or rather being transported to their new destination – perhaps to lay more eggs or…perhaps not.

Layers of white containers with chickens (layers)

Chicken in theirs containers being transported on a red truck

During one of my visits in Amsterdam (several years ago) I was stunned and mesmerized by colorful layers of bicycles waiting patiently for their riders in specially designated places – right in the heart of that big European city.

Layers of parked bicycles in special designated multi level place in center of Amsterdam

Many European cities are bicycle-friendly. Amsterdam is in fact super friendly. Consequently, the Dutch can eat their layered cakes without feeling guilty or fearful of gaining weight. Our cities should be full of bicycle-envy and follow Amsterdam’s path.

More bicycles in Amsterdam

 

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

August 1, 2013

seaweed and sand interesting image # 1

This masterpiece was created by ocean waves challenging the sand and weeds on the beach. I was enchanted by such “paintings” during my walks on Solana Beach, California, this past June.

Seaweed and sand interesting image #2

And here is another one!  The sand of Solana Beach is characteristically gray in comparison to the light beige of other sands I know on Cape Cod and Florida. It is that wide range of grayness that makes these images from Solana Beach so strong and unique. Their beauty and temporariness evoked my desire to make them a bit more permanent – with my photographic lens.

Little Flower Girl playing in the beach sand

Children love to play with sand on the beach, regardless what are the circumstances. I took this photo a few years ago while watching a formal wedding ceremony on Silver Beach (Cape Cod). This little Flower Girl just had to play with sand the minute her work of throwing petals was done!

Children seem to recognize instinctively the hidden beauty of seemingly ordinary things. Fortunately some adults do too.”Every grain of sand is a jewel waiting to be discovered,” according to Dr. Gary Greenberg of Hawaii who combines his knowledge of science and art of photography with amazing results. Thanks to my friend Valerie, who introduced me to Greenberg’s photography, I can share it with you.

See awesome masterpieces of nature under our feet!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2_eKX9iVME

http://www.sandgrains.com/

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable

July 4, 2013

I hesitate greatly to reveal my secrets, but this weekly photo challenge calls for it … so here you have it – my favorite companionable friend is… my shadow! By stating this I might upset some of my dear “flesh and blood” friends, but yes – I truly like my shadow and enjoy its companionship a lot! We walk and hike together; we sit together and think about thousands of issues and wonders of the world.

My shadow is very patient and flexible – never complains or argues. It follows me everywhere, disappears tactfully when I go to sleep, and is ready to go at weird hours in the morning. What a great companion in the very late hours of the night since it is never tired! Youthful, reliable, and very loyal. This is truly one of my best “for better, for worse… till death do us part” relationships!

My shadow on the patio

Shadow on the patio

My shadow on the deck

Shadow on the deck

And here is another secret of mine. I learned to pay attention to my shadow many years ago and I learned it from my 4 year-old (at that time) son Leo (not his real name but an astrological one for my writings). I do remember that day so well, as if time had not passed at all since then!

It was the quiet morning of a sunny spring day on Cape Cod. My toddler Leo was playing outside all by himself; his older brother was in school already, and no other friends of Leo were around. Being a bit concerned, I walked outside and asked, “You don’t have any friends to play with today, Leo – aren’t you feeling lonely?” “Oh no, Mommy,” he responded, “I am playing with my shadow!”

What a terrific concept! I was stunned and deeply touched, my eyes became misty.

From that day my shadow and I started a good friendship as well. That relationship became even more significant when I began my photographic endeavors. In fact, after several years, I honored my shadow by making it the trademark of my photography. Some of you who have read my blog for a while might have noticed that already, especially since my shadow is placed in the header of this blog.

 My shadow - my trademark

My shadow – my trademark

I love to travel in summer, and so does my shadow. Every year in June Tucson is under a strong and very uncomfortable spell of heat. What a pity! June is a lovely month elsewhere. So I followed the call of the ocean as indicated in the previous post: https://alicjamann.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/weekly-photo-challenge-curves/

This time an attempt to escape the heat took us, for a short time, to the Pacific Ocean near San Diego, California. Del Mar was the destination, but Solana Beach became my favorite spot.

 Entry to Solana Beach - long and steep wooden stairs

Entry to Solana Beach

 View of Solana Beach

Solana Beach

Author of the post walking on the line where ocean meets the sand

On that line

What a treat it was – I wish everybody who needs a small break could have it!

My shadow and I took late afternoon walks on the beach (usually empty at that time) following that line where the hard wet sand and the water touch each other in the rhythm of the ocean waves.

I love dancing, and I never had a better dance partner than my shadow. The day before returning home, we made a perfectly synchronized dance in honor of the monsoon which was supposed to arrive in Tucson any day.

Dancing on the beach - step one

Dancing on the beach - step two

Dancing on the beach - step three

Dancing on the beach - step four

The dance was effective – there was some rain in Tucson upon our return, but it did not last long. Perhaps the dance was too short. Perhaps we will have to repeat it over here in the desert. Perhaps more people should dance to bring down the rain – just like Native Americans do. I wrote about that in my post: https://alicjamann.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/monsoon-report-from-the-patio/

Have a nice Independence Day holiday!

Please do some dancing for rain or for sunshine… or for whatever you wish the dance will bring.

Alicja

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sign Says

June 6, 2013

Signs are all around us – warning, informing, communicating, decorating, and often irritating. They seem to be more visible when we travel by car.

I looked through some of my travel photos and made a choice of just a few, but with signs that differ greatly.   

Huge Rooster mounted on  white truck

This huge rooster is welcoming visitors to the small village of Hatch (population less than 2000) in New Mexico, located 40 miles north of Las Cruces. This village is proud of its bountiful chile crops and the annual event – The Hatch Chile Festival. The village is known as the chile capitol of the world!

Warm hospitality is part of the charm of Hatch and will stay in my memory as strongly pronounced Americana sprinkled with the chilli powders that I purchased there.

New Mexico Americana

While Hatch is a small village and there are so many small villages worth visiting, I had no idea that it is possible to have an official town of population 1… till we stumbled upon Lost Springs while driving along highway 20 West in Wyoming. So there it was – a green official highway sign stating just that: POP1.

Green road sign of Lost Springs with POP 1

I took this photo in 2010, not being aware that Lost Springs had a lot of media attention due to its demographic uniqueness at that time. Today, I learned, Lost Springs lost considerably its attraction since its population grew to 4 in 2011. Oh well… some gains and some losses.

The Sherwin-Williams Paint truck

Close up of the SWP truck  with their slogan - Cover the Earth.

This Sherwin-Williams Paint truck took my attention immediately. The Cover the Earth slogan reminded me of a political joke from the Cold War times when the tension between the Soviet Union and the United States also generated a strong competition in the exploration of space. Although in reality the Soviets did not land on the moon, for the sake of this joke they are placed there together with the Americans.

The Joke

Two teams of astronauts, one from the Soviet Union and one from the United States, were sent to the moon. After their landing, the Soviets immediately started to paint the surface of the moon with red paint – the color of their flag and symbol of Communism. Concerned, the Americans called Mission Control and reported that. They were advised to ignore the Soviets’ action.

When half of the moon was covered with red paint, the Americans called Earth again asking, “What shall we do?” The answer was, “Wait and do not worry!” So they did.

After a while, the American team called Earth again – this time with great urgency. “Look, the Soviets have already covered most of the moon with their paint – the whole world will see the moon in red!  What shall we do?! “

Mission Control now gave them an order, “Wait till the Soviets have covered the entire moon with red and then paint in huge white letters Coca Cola.

The End 🙂

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

April 25, 2013

Sometimes we do not need words of explanation or captions for photos. Such is the case here with my interpretation of “Up”.

 

Tall building in New Yourk

GW Bridge

View from the car of  a highway loop

Soutwestern Church with ringing bell

Tall business building in Tucson

I responded to several Weekly Photo Challenges before:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details

Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss

Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond

Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination

Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate

Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details

March 7, 2013

I have been so lost in time lately, absorbed by the detailed work of finishing an important publishing project, that I almost missed today’s deadline for this photo challenge (by Word Press). Actually I found the title and description of the challenge a bit confusing and decided to interpret it as Lost and Found in the Details.

Here is how I see it:

Silver Beach on Cape Cod, MA

Silver Beach, Cape Cod

Walking on this familiar beach after the high tide you can see the dark clumps of seaweed on its sand. They are not very attractive and soon will be removed to make the beach more pleasant for visitors. Those clumps are not attractive at first, but there is some beauty in them that I tried to capture it in this photo.

Seaweed and sea shells  entangeled on the beach

Sea Offerings

The seaweed entangled with the shells, the color, the texture, and the feeling of some mystery attracted me enough that this photo, in a large format, hangs in my studio as a reminder of my visits with the ocean.

New Orleans building with the decorative iron work

Charm of New Orleans

The minute I walked into the New Orleans streets, I was charmed by that city’s ambiance and its characteristic architecture with the decorative iron work. The detail of that ornamental work represents for me the essence of that New Orleans charm – visually.

Detail of the ornamental iron work

Detail of the ornamental iron work

The above examples of details were sought by me intentionally, but sometimes one can stumble on such detail accidentally. That was the case with a photograph I took in my native Warsaw (Poland) a few years ago. I was attracted to the balcony full of flowers on Nowy Swiat (New World) street and only much later discovered the very attractive decorative details of the building on both sides of the balcony.

Warsaw balcony and flowers

Warsaw balcony and flowers

It is so nice to have flowers around us in many forms – they bring smiles to our lives.

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

 

Unsent Postcard

September 28, 2012

Postcard from Alicja Mann

Dear Readers,

Please consider this to be a belated postcard from Cape Cod, one of the most charming vacation spots in this country and my “old home” place.

As I stated in my previous post, it was my intention to have a long, true time off from work and a real vacation. Well, it was a long time all right, but not as restful and free of stress as I desired.

Sometimes life presents us with challenging situations and even dramas that throw us off balance. I found myself in such a spot lately because of a difficult family conflict relating to my motherhood. Having a painful time with it, I needed a lot of solitude and was not very communicative or sociable for a couple of months. I am sure that I disappointed some of my readers by not responding to their comments before and during my “vacation”. The same goes for not returning my friends’ calls or answering their e-mails. I apologize and will try to correct that.

The great benefit of being on the Cape was having the ocean nearby. I loved my numerous visits with it — the soothing sound and touch of waves, and the ever changing texture of the beach.

Footprints and water on the beach

Summer afternoons on my favorite Silver Beach were always crowded with people, young and old, but mostly families with kids. I even took pictures of two boys that closely resembled my sons when they were in that happy, care free stage years ago.

Two boys on the beach

Like my Taurus; Like my Leo

Toys on the beach

After a few afternoon visits to the beach, I decided that they were not good for my psyche—they were too nostalgic! So instead, I decided to make my visits to Silver Beach in the very late afternoons, until the sunset. It really was a great idea! I loved that time when almost no one was there—except me and my shadow.

Silver Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Ocean and the beach to my right

Silver Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Ocean and the beach to my left

Sun over waves

Ocean in front of me

Two views of Silver Beach at sunset

Beach around me

Sunsets do not need any comments or captions!

Two views of sunset at Silver Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Sun at horizon, Silver Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Sun below horizon, Silver Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Alicja Mann's shadow waving goodbye Farewell to Cape Cod and hello sunny Tucson!

P.S. To see more Cape scenery, please visit my previous posts:

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Text and photos copyright © 2012 by Alicja Mann.

In Flip Flops at the Rodeo

July 13, 2012

A short trip to Prescott, Arizona for the July 4th celebrations was one of the best ideas I have come up with lately — especially during the recent heat wave in Tucson when our patio became a “Sahara” patio, thanks to many long hours of southwest sun exposure. Prescott offered cooler temperatures (below 100 °F) and a lot of festivities — among them the famous “World’s Oldest Rodeo®.”

My idea became a reality on the 2nd of July when we entered the charming center of Prescott with plenty of green trees and architecture that does not resemble the southwest character of Tucson. We got tickets for the evening of the next day, and I could hardly wait since it would be my first rodeo.

Cover of 2012 Prescott Rodeo program

The first Prescott “rodeo” took place on July 4, 1888 — it was called a “Cowboy Tournament” at that time and was an addition to the 4th of July activities. The aim was to bring people to town to enjoy a variety of festivities and, of course, to spend money in local shops.

That first “rodeo” in Prescott was a great success. Both the contestants and spectators loved it, and that is how it all began…. In fact “Prescott, Where it all Began” was the theme of this year’s festivities. Rightly so, since it was the 125th anniversary of the World’s Oldest Rodeo® in the same year that Arizona is celebrating its centennial statehood status.

One might ask — is it really the world’s oldest rodeo? Apparently there are some stiff criteria that have to be met to be called that and to be able to obtain a register ® mark from the U.S. Patent Office. That mark, No.1.353.477, was issued on August 6, 1985. So the Prescott Rodeo truly must be the oldest one, right?

The rodeo tradition is as old as ranching and cattle raising. It honors the heritage of the cowboy culture that is so deeply rooted in the Prescott area. It is derived from the old Spanish tradition of the vaquero. It has become extremely popular in this country with over 700 professional rodeos.

Rodeos are reflections of the cowboys’ skills used in the every day chores of their lives. To compete in a rodeo one has to have knowledge of the animals, tenacious spirit, and athletic ability crucial for success in the ranching world. Only bull riding does not seem to fit this concept.

Alicja and two men

At the entry to the Rodeo grounds I was welcomed with great smiles by two handsome greeters and invited to take a picture with them. Looking at their boots, I realized that perhaps I should have worn different shoes — not my red flip flops. “Ouch, gentlemen, please do not step on my toes!”

Boots meeting

Boots and hats were in great abundance. I was probably the only one wearing my flimsy flip flops!

Happy, elegantly
Lady and two gentlemen
Waiting, in style
I loved the friendliness of the place and seeing many women and men dressed with extra care for the occasion. There was some pride and joy in the air….

Pony tails

Even the horses looked elegant with their slick pony tails! I imagined that they were “Saddle Bronc Riding” horses. Those horses are identified individually in the program, just like the human contestants, with names like Elvis, Cactus Flower, Thunderstorm or General Tom. I like that idea — it shows respect for those animals and stresses their integral part in the competition.

Bull

Visiting the bulls was surprisingly amusing. They were very calm and only one took some interest in my visit. They do not have their names listed in the program, but I decided to name this one, anyway, as Tracy. I think it fits him well.

Happy rider

not very happy rider

Visiting another bull was even more amusing and you can see why. Of course it was a mechanical bull, but the girls were very real! One was a happy rider and the other not happy at all.

Daddy and son
Pink boots

It was time to follow others to the arena.

View from my seat

This was the view from my seat, not the best one, but still it was exciting to be there. I felt like a kid again in some kind of enchanted and unknown world.

Flags, flags...

Randy Corley kept us informed about all of the action in the arena from the announcer’s booth.

announcements and commentary spot
Horseback rider with US flag
Horseback rider with Coca-Cola flag
The “Grand Entry” was full of flags — all kinds of flags — patriotic and commercial ones.

Big O Tires sign

Events like rodeos need some sponsors, of course — like Big O Tires.

Competition

This is a scene from the Tie Down Roping competition. I read in the program, “The event derives from the duties of actual working cowboys requiring catching and restraining calves for branding, immobilizing a sick or injured calf for treatment. Ranch hands prided themselves on how fast they could rope and tie calves, and soon they began informal contests.”

Action

OK, after a few attempts to capture the bucking horse riding, I had to give up! The action is very fast and intense — the rider has to stay on the horse for 8 seconds just to qualify! Many of them don’t last that long. I was not equipped for that kind of photography and did not have have a good spot for it. Therefore I will direct you to the professional photographers of the rodeo. Please click on my photo above or here to enjoy their action photos.

Satiisfaction

It was dark when the rodeo ended. I enjoyed it very much and felt satisfied, just like this little cowboy. However next time I will not wear my flip flops, but red boots like these instead. I also know where to buy them.

Red boots

Boots waiting for me

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Cover Artwork of the Program by Paul Lanquist. Text and other photos copyright © 2012 by Alicja Mann.

Footprints Left Behind

March 8, 2012

Did you ever wonder why people carve their names or initials on tree trunks, benches, and other objects? And did you notice that more significant places often have more of those markings?

That strong desire to make a statement “I was here!” is as old as the human race—a desire to make and leave behind some sort of sign, a “footprint” of existence.

The mysterious markings and images pecked or painted on cliffs and boulders in the West, known as the pictographs, are messages from the past. Similarly, the boot print of the Apollo 11 crew member and the American flag left behind on the moon in 1969 are our message to the future stating, “We were here.”

Bootprint left on moon by Apollo 11 astronaut (from NASA)

Boot print on the moon – NASA photo

I probably would not have thought about this at all if I had not found an almost forgotten photograph of my footprints, or rather boot prints, from several years ago. I was sorting through piles of my photographs in preparation for the recent art exhibit and there it was—the photograph of my boot prints in the Grand Canyon! And there also was another photo showing the boot prints of my Canadian friend, Joan, with whom I had undertaken the challenge of hiking that incredible canyon – down and up in one day!

Alicja Mann shadow and footprints at Grand Canyon

My boot prints and shadow on the Grand Canyon trail

These footprints in the dust of the trail were a short lived statement of my presence there. Short lived, but definitely a bit longer than the bare footprints I make at the edge of the ocean each time I walk on the wet sand of Silver Beach when I am on Cape Cod. There the very next wave smooths out the footprints and the following one makes them disappear totally. I never had an impulse to take a picture of my footprints there— maybe because that beach is so familiar to me. Similarly, I did not have that desire on any mountain hikes around Tucson, even though the mountains here are very beautiful.

Just being at the Grand Canyon evokes an unforgettable feeling of awe and humbleness, but hiking it, measuring myself against its giant scale of space and time is indescribable. That’s right—the magnificence and hugeness of the Grand Canyon was so overwhelming and the sense of my minuteness there against the background of the rocks formed through the millennia of time, made me feel like shouting, “I am here! I am really here!” Hence the footprint photo and many other photos that captured that adventure.

Now these photos seem flat and very one dimensional, and can’t adequately illustrate the beauty and power of that place. Still, I will share a few of them with you. If you haven’t been there, I hope that you do go—after all it is one of the wonders of the world, and was not man-made, but created by nature over millions of years!

Grand Canyon morning from South Kaibab Trail

View of the Grand Canyon in the morning light

Alicja and Joan at the Grand Canyon, morning

At the South Kaibab trailhead – 7 AM

Grand Canyon textures and colors by Alicja Mann

Textures and colors of the Grand Canyon

Alicja Mann at Grand Canyon

Alicja and view of O’Neill Butte

Footbridge at Grand Canyon

Silver Bridge over the Colorado River

Grand Cayon walls seen from Bright Angel trail

Going up the Bright Angel trail

Alicja Mann and sign at end of Grand Cayyon hike

At the end of the trail – 7 PM

My boot prints in the Grand Canyon disappeared almost immediately while the boot prints on the moon probably remain unchanged. There are no winds on the moon to erode them, so they might be there forever.

Here on Earth our physical presence is fragile and temporary, but we humans are clever and capable of making different, more permanent “footprints” to mark our short time of existence. No one wants to be forgotten or insignificant. So we often strive in a variety of ways to make “footprints” of our lives. One way is through creative work: writing, painting, composing…. As a result we create books, paintings, records, and photographs that can live on after we are gone.

Framed painting, music CD cover, book, another image

Different types of “footprints”

I was reminded of this just a few days ago. Lou Colombo, a jazz musician whom I knew from Cape Cod and whose trumpet playing I love, died last Saturday in a car accident. That was terribly upsetting. However, his music will stay with us. I know it will stay with me.

Lou Colombo CD cover with personal notes from musician

Lou Colombo’s CD jacket

Click on Lou’s picture below and listen to his musical “footprint” titled “It all depends on you.”

Lou Colombo and his trumpet (Cape Cod Times file photo by Ron Schloerb)

That is right, it all depends on you….

P.S. To learn more about Lou Colombo click to read Cape jazz legend Lou Colombo dies in the Cape Cod Times.

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Boot print on the moon photo from NASA. Alicja’s photo by Joan Agnew. Lou Colombo photo by Ron Schloerb/Cape Cod Times. Text and other photos copyright © 2012 by Alicja Mann.

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!

Alicja

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


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