In the past year, I have put together a collection of my newspaper columns through the years. This one is from 1986, my first year on the road, and obviously I went from being on the VA Blue Ridge Parkway to Washington and Oregon. I did not let a lot of grass grow under my full-time RVing tires. To explain some of the column comments, I was privileged to visit Asia in 1985 with a group of teachers from Western Illinois University (another long story).
“Aren’t young people great! After an incredible amount of detective work on both our parts, I was able to spend some time with Kathy, a former senior GS from Michigan who now lives in Seattle. She took me with her to an English class she teaches for refugee women. That particular evening, there were two ladies from Cambodia and two from Laos. It was a very informal, comfortable, loosely structured class, more to teach them how to use English in their everyday situations rather than the nuances of the English language (a little like my Japanese). It was interesting to hear them tell their family stories.
The next day Kathy and I explored the beaches and back roads of Whidbey Island, northwest of Seattle. As we were experiencing the somewhat usual overcast weather for this time of year, I heard this announcement from my young friend, ‘It’s sunny all of the time if you are tall enough.’ Think about it!
There were three Japanese gentlemen visiting on Mt. St. Helens. One of them asked me a question and, of course, that started a conversation, some of which I managed in Japanese. They, of course, spoke nearly perfect English. They must have appreciated my efforts, one of them asked to have his picture taken with me!
If you remember from an earlier column, I was supposed to contact a gentleman in Portland, OR, whose younger brother I met on Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway. What a delightful conversation I had. Gaither is 82. He and his wife were married in 1931 and moved to Oregon during the ‘Worst depression days, before Roosevelt.’ They are still together and as ‘healthy as can be expected.’ I talked to him at length and his advice was, ‘Enjoy life from day to day and do as best ye can.’ Sounded good to me.
Well, it’s that time of year again. The housewives of America will get up at 4:30 a.m. this Thursday and wrestle with a naked, slimy, cold, dead, and otherwise uncooperative 25-pound turkey. Actually, there are compensations when the combined fragrances of the sage dressing, browning turkey, pumpkin pie, mincemeat squares, and homemade bread are wafting through the house.
By that time everybody else is up and you want to go back to bed but not with a houseful of company coming. There is the last minute sweep of the misplaced, putting up clean towels, setting the table, and oh no, we forgot the centerpiece. A candle pilgrim family with a couple of pinecones from the yard will make do.
Come to think of it, it’s not so bad. It sure brings good memories to mind. The best part comes after the company has been duly greeted; they get their coats off, warm their hands by the fire, then sit down to the table. Now is the time to join hands and thank the Almighty for all our blessings. I never could say Grace without tears because I know I have so much for which to be grateful, good health being only one of many.
If you have the house (or RV), the turkey, the friends, the good health, and the warmth of love this year, count yourself fortunate and share it with someone who is alone or perhaps an older couple whose family is far away. If you have only a can of beans, share it anyway, it will taste better. If you haven’t anyone to be with, come take my hand and we’ll share it in spirit. Happy Thanksgiving.”
And I will add from 2014, God Bless until next week.
Winter in the Wilderness, the first e-book novel published by Minshall, is offered at most Internet book sites. A print edition may be obtained from Amazon, or you can order an autographed copy from the author at Box 1040, Congress, AZ for $7.95 plus $3.50 for postage and handling. The fourth edition of RVing Alaska and Canada is available through Amazon.com.
At 45, Widow Minshall began 20 years of solo full-time RVing throughout Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. Sharlene canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs, worked a dude ranch, visited Hudson Bay polar bears, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. She lectured at Life on Wheels, published six RV-related books and wrote a novel, “Winter in the Wilderness.”