Bring an object to place on a thankfulness altar ... what would you pick?
On Wednesday, Nov. 20, the Women's Interfaith Institute will hold a Harvest Gathering and an evening of thanks at Stockbridge First Congregational Church. Anyone is welcome, and they ask guests to come with an object from their lives.
The altar will act as a focus. It will hold objects that help the quiet circle of people around it to feel thankful and to think about what the year has brought them, what they have done and felt -- and when they have felt that they have accomplished something.
I am wondering what I would bring.
A sprig of holly with lots of berries would remind me of the bushes at my grandmother's house and of bright color in the cold. (Where would I find one in the Berkshires? Whitney's has poinesttias, and Taft Farms has wreathes ...)
A poem by Stephanie Thornhill of the Pop Up Poets -- who will come back to town to lead community workshops on Tuesday -- would remind me of the rich craziness of August, of sitting on a park bench in Williamstown, interviewing her and her colleague Adam Falkner by phone. It was a Saturday morning, and I had just picked up my farm share, and I sat on the bench with my feet curled under me, laughing and fascinated by turns, as they told me why they love reading their poetry aloud in unexpected places.
A shell, a pear whelk maybe, would remind me of the Andreas Feininger exhibit at the Berkshire Museum last winter, and the imaginary game of letters I built between Feininger and Ansel Adams, also a photographer in the 1930s, who knew him slightly. And that wuld remind me of the playfulness in this job, especially in the quieter months, when I have the time for free associations.
A turnip would stand for the harvest and for the Robert Burns night my sister and her partner took me to near Muir beach a week after a story ran here, and where we had our first haggis.
And a book ... because any collection of mine would have to include a book ... I think I would choose Henry Beston's "Northern Farm," for my friend Mary Jane who told me in October that she knew him and his wife, Elizabeth Coltsworth. Their farm lay not far inland from her cedar shake house on the coast.
And I would choose this book too for Tom Ellis, the proprietor of Elizabeth's, who brought his copy of Beston's "The Outermost House" along with the entrées when I had dinner there with friends on my birthday, and read a little of it aloud to us.
That little extra, a frozen pond to go with the Moroccan shepherd's pie ... it gives a lift of the heart.