Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A First Thanksgiving

Salt marsh at Reid State Park in early October

This year my son's high school girlfriend and her family are joining us for Thanksgiving, their first! They immigrated to the USA from South Sudan fifteen years ago, fleeing civil war. Hanukkah overlaps with Thanksgiving this year so we'll be celebrating both. There will be a menorah on the table and potato latkes along with local turkey. This is my son's first time back from Middlebury College. Other years we've joined my family in New York City for Thanksgiving, but this year the kids wanted to come home.

Chewonki campus last weekend

My daughter has also been away at Chewonki Semester School, a one term farm/environmental school for high school juniors. The campus is on a remote peninsula in coastal Maine with cabins heated by wood stoves. She's been having a blast milking cows, doing field biology, clamming at Reid State Park and making life long friends. She'll be back to her regular high school in January.

Moonrise at sunset from Popham Beach in mid November

This was our first, albeit temporary, experience as empty nesters. As much as Henry and I have missed the kids, we've enjoyed our free time. We hiked up mountains, walked on the beach and ate out on a whim. I caught up on years of lost sleep, and work time was extra productive. Mild weather in September and October was perfect for painting en plein air.

My Seawall Beach watercolor, sold to a client in Boston for her sister in Korea

When the weather got too chilly to work outside, I turned my attention to a new young adult novel, set in coastal Maine. After a slow start, I've written over 25K words. I'm using Scrivener novel writing software for the first time and loving it, although there was a learning curve. Also, I find first drafts harder work than revision, but I'm really enjoying these characters and the local setting. I'm especially grateful for the guidance from my new literary agent, Laura Geringer at Shannon Associates.

Scout enjoying our first snowfall last Sunday.  Copyright © 2013 Sarah Laurence

November is the season to read by the fire. I'm at work on a best books of 2013 post. I've enjoyed reading your blogs too. Happy Thanksgiving and Hanukkah!


Alyson | New England Living said...

Happy Thanksgiving and Hanukkah to you! I love your description of being temporary empty nesters. I so look forward to that time! But, of course, I'm not wishing time away and and I am embracing this stage of my life as well.

Lovely photos! We've yet to get our first snow down here and I can't wait. This is such a gorgeous time of year.

Enjoy your holiday! How wonderful that you can have such a full house.

A Cuban In London said...

First of all, happy Thanksgiving and Hanukkah! You must be so proud of your children. They grow so quickly, don't they!

Marvellous photos and painting.

Greetings from London.

Les said...

I hope your holiday combo was good, and wish you luck with the new book. While we are not empty nesters, it is empty more often than it has been, which takes a bit of ajustment.

troutbirder said...

All good Sarah. Kids growing up and branching out, new friends and acquaintances, writing , a growing up puppy and your seascapes are, well, just plain great...:)

Rose said...

Sounds like you had a great Thanksgiving--it's nice to be empty nesters, but even better when all the kids come back home! Your daughter's school sounds so interesting; I grew up on a farm and my Dad usually had a few dairy cows, but I never milked a cow! Good to see Scout again; she certainly has grown up. A belated Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah!

Donna said...

It sounds like it was a very nice Thanksgiving, and it also sounds like it's been a fun fall for each person in your family!

Cat said...

So sweet that your kids wanted to spend their holiday at home. That makes a momma's heart happy. Looking forward to your best of 2013 list. I'm currently reading The Goldfinch and am intrigued so far. I think I'm nearing 35% on the kindle.

Amanda Summer said...

Your Thanksgivikkuh sounds like it was wonderful - we had latkes on our table as well. Congrats on your word count - the software is intriguing to me - must check it out!

Sarah Laurence said...

Cat, I'm reading a hardcover version of The Goldfinch and it's a workout. I'm not sure I'll finish it before your book group but I'm looking forward to chatting about it when I do.

Amanda, you can demo Scrivener for free and it's the cheapest software I've ever purchased. It is changing the way I write and I hope in a good way. So we have the Hanukkah connection too.

All, thanks for your Thanksgiving wishes. Our dinner went very well. The latkes seemed to bridge the cultural barrier best of all. Who would have guessed?