Friday
Nov262010

Thanksgiving 2010

Last night, at our 12th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner, the Pilgrims arrived with gratitude in their hearts, a growling emptiness in their stomachs and a thirst that only the world’s three great rivers could possibly quench. Clearly, gratitude was the dominant theme of the evening, as it is designed by tradition. But, quickly, the wine corks began to pop and the fruit of the vine flowed like the Nile, coursing through the veins of  Pilgrims and Native Mesoamericans alike. Yes, all 50 believers and non-believers alike gathered here at Casa Grande for our most favorite of the Yearly celebrations.

After the requisite warm up with libations, the two 25 lb turkeys quickly resembled carcasses that had been dipped in a piranha infested Amazon River! These were appetites not seen since the last time this set of Pilgrims gathered at the table a year ago. On each plate, the turkey breast and leg were crowded out by mounds of Gwen’s famous Sausage dressing, sprouts of garlic green beans, caldrons of garlic mashed potatoes, dollops of cranberry chutney and creamed carrots. Meandering over, through and around these dikes of food was a torrent of gravy flowing like the Old Mississippi flooding its banks.

For the most hearty there were seconds and even thirds. But, then, dessert was unveiled just in case a scintilla of space still existed in anyone’s belly.  Like we were intent on “gilding the lily” we finished with chocolate bread pudding topped with bourbon infused vanilla ice cream. All told, the Pilgrims seemed happy, sated and fulfilled. And, presumably the Almighty looked on with Divine approval.



Monday
Nov152010

Note to readers

For your information, we have posted on the Europe Photos section of the blog, pictures of some of the dishes we ate and the wines we drank in France and Italy.  They are located at the bottom of that section.  If you are hungry, eat before you view them.  Bon Appetit. 

Saturday
Nov132010

November 13, 2010

Well, after a fabulous month in Europe, a trip that far exceeded our high expectations, we returned to Smith Mountain Lake, rushed like chickens with their heads cut off and prepared for our departure to Mexico. We didn’t give ourselves nearly enough time, but most importantly, we were able to visit with our friends, share some pictures and tell tall stories. Then, we drove down to Atlanta and flew directly to Isla de Cozumel. Your response to the travel blog has warmed our hearts. In fact, some, gluttons for punishment no doubt, have suggested we continue the dialog while down here on the Island. After deep thought, 3 family meetings and consultation with copy right lawyers, we’ve decided to continue. Some may look at this as a fast talking infomercial salesman selling Chamoo chamois. Please, give us a break…but, we do hope that the stories told and experiences shared are a little absorbing!

As in the past, we’d love to hear any comments you might have, but if they are critical, abusive or laden with four letter words, they’ll come on deaf ears. In advance, thanks for your interest. Dick and Gwen reporting.

This week we witnessed one of nature’s many amazing, even miraculous events. No, it wasn’t a volcano bursting forth new rich earth to grow grape vines, no, it wasn’t a cataclysmic hurricane violently, but efficiently, distributing heat from the lower latitudes to the upper latitudes and no, it wasn’t one of our orchids hosting the explosion of new intricately colored and finely veined flowers. All these are admittedly fascinating, awe inspiring and humbling. But, this week was even more fascinating. We went to the east side of Cozumel around 4PM and watched 110 baby Green turtles make their way to the surface of the beach and make a bee line for the crashing waves of the Caribbean.

Imagine, their mother was hatched on this exact section of the Cozumel beach at least 20 years ago perhaps as much as 50 years ago. She, statistically unlike her fellow hatchlings, survived the opportunistic birds and crabs whose senses are in tune with the imminent emergence of a tender meal from the talcum powder beach sands and, even more foreboding, she survived the ominous cast of sea creatures who awaited her entry into the ocean. Then, for her first 5 years, she attached herself to a floating plume of sea grass, narrowly avoiding the myriad predators that seek out those niches for food. She ate only the sea grass that provided her cover and tiny crustaceans that also seek refuge on these islands of floating sea grass. Then, sometime after her five years floating aimlessly in the Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico dependent on the whim of the oceans currents, she left the floating island and with hardened shell as her number one defense set out to eat her way around an ocean teaming with green grasses and plants. This would be her breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next several decades while she grew into a sexually mature adult weighing 150 to 700 pounds. Then, having encountered a similarly matured adult male she headed back to Cozumel with a belly full of eggs and returned to the same beach to complete the unbelievable life cycle of this species.

Of course, no one will know if this new generation of Green turtles is her first clutch, but with nature’s will it won’t be her last.

Scientists we talked with, as we watched the babies head for the sea, who have monitored hundreds of these “Marches to the Sea,” told us that typically the survival rate of the hatchlings is about 1%! So, of the 110 little flappers who boiled out of the Cozumel sands and frantically crawled to the crashing sea, perhaps one will reach sexual maturity and carry his or her mother’s genes to the next generation. 

 How such a natural GPS system works Science has yet to answer. No one knows. Some experts speculate that the Earth’s magnetic force field is the Green Turtle’s “road map.“ For now, suffice it to say it’s inexplicable. The scientists and biologists responsible for protecting the Endangered Species’ nests and assuring that they are not tampered with by some turtle egg lover,….whether human or otherwise, said that this year was very successful….all told they counted 4300 nests along Cozumel’s East coast. Assuming that each nest holds between 100 and 120 eggs, that’s nearly a half million hatchlings that “rose to the occasion” and gave Mother Nature an opportunity to celebrate another quest for survival. Just to put this survival issue in perspective, the Green Turtle is an ancient species, they are reptiles whose ancestors evolved on land and took to the sea about 150 million years ago. They are one of the few species that watched the dinosaurs evolve and become extinct.