This afternoon I am babysitting my grandchildren, Gracie and Owen. Jake and Julie have gone Christmas shopping in Tilton at the outlet mall. Next week is Thanksgiving, and the day after is called Black Friday, traditionally the day on which prices tumble in an annual sell off. Many outlets have already dropped their prices, and this week we invested in a new washer, a dryer and two-door Samsung fridge, saving about $1,000 on the usual retail price by taking advantage of the Black Friday deals. Jake and Julie will pick up Luke from day-care in a couple of hours' time and relieve me of my duties.
We have now entered my fourth season in the States, and a little more than a week ago the first snow fell - earlier than usual, and just a couple of inches here. On Wednesday there was a severe winter storm in New Hampshire that left some 200,000 people without power over Thanksgiving. Nine inches fell here, and another two the following night. With the daytime temperatures below freezing it was no wonder that I slipped and fell on the ice - still I should have been more careful, and can only blame myself. Many of the New Hampshire and Vermont ski resorts have already opened up, and the pistes are open weeks before they normally do.
A little over a week ago Liz and I moved out of our tiny apartment and into a house in Littleton. We were going to use U-Haul, but they completely screwed us around. In the end my daughter Julie loaned us her Town & Country minivan, and we got almost everything moved the 13 miles in 5 or 6 trips. Jake helped out with the larger furniture when he got back from Pennsylvania a couple of days later. After a few hiccups with the pellet stove (I think the house has been empty for many months) everything is now working smoothly. It is wonderful to be living amongst one's possessions and to have enough room to swing the proverbial cat.
On Thursday I hosted my first ever Thanksgiving - the menu a mixture of Southern and British cooking. The main course consisted of the traditional turkey, which I cooked along with baby carrots and roast potatoes (which my family has always liked), and Liz cooked a sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, a green bean casserole with french fried onions, and a blue raspberry fluff with fruit and marshmallows. We also had sweet corn, stuffing and gravy (mine). To follow (at least an hour later) Julie had brought a home made apple pie, which was accompanied by cream, ice cream or snow cream (there were 11 inches of fresh snow on the ground). A filling time was had by all.
Saturday. I am feeling sorry for myself right now. On returning from the supermarket late this afternoon I took a tumble on the ice between the car and the front door, opening up a deep cut on my left cheek and a smaller one on my left eyebrow. Julie and Liz patched me up, but soon after Julie and the kids had left for home, I tripped over a chair leg and opened up the deep cut again. I have been sitting here with an ice pack waiting for the bleeding to stop.
Sunday. A good night's sleep and ready for another day. I have been in the States for almost seven months now. When I arrived at the end of April there were no leaves on the trees - just a few cherry trees in Boston had donned their Spring blossoms. Liz and I were living in a tiny (750 ft²) apartment. It was so small that there was little room to move, so small that when our possessions eventually arrived from South Africa after a 3-month journey, most of the 125 cardboard cartons had to be put into storage.
Well, the seven months has been enough time for me to have witnessed all four seasons. The maples, oaks and birches are once again bare, save for the blanket of snow on their branches. The brilliant green hues of Spring and Summer gave way to the browns, reds, yellows and oranges of Fall, and instead of decking the trees the leaves are now lying on the ground beneath eleven inches of snow. Today the daytime temperature has risen above freezing for the first time in several days.