Saturday, December 5, 2009

Trip to Canton

I needed to start my Christmas shopping, but I didn't want to go to Canada without Joe. I didn't want to go to usual stores. I wanted something special and unique to northern New York. So I went to Canton, which is north of us, by the St. Lawrence River. In Canton is Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY), which is a center for workshops, exhibit space, and store where tradtional crafts are sold. I figured it would be a good place to start, and I thought Canton might have some other little shops too (it didn't...or at least I didn't find any).

The drive was nice even though all the trees are skeletal and everything is dead and the sky was hazy gray and the sun a smudge. I saw Herefords. I know that doesn't sound exciting, but I grew up with them, and most of the cows I see here are dairy cows. I LOVE the wide variety of dairy cows, but it was good to see the familiar white faces.

At TAUNY I watched a man make an Adirondack pack. That is a kind of backpack made of reeds, like a basket. The Mohawks are responsible for them, according to the exhibit that was up. I want one before I leave here, but I wasn't shopping for myself today. I saw several nice things there, but nothing that suited my gift purposes.

But I did find some good things for stockings. I can't tell you what they are because someone reaing this might be also getting things in his or her stocking from me. But I can tell you about the other things I bought because they are for Boxing Day.

As the child of divorce, I have had at least two Christmases since I was 13 -- my mother's house, my father's house, and my mother's big, huge extended family. Now I am married, thank goodness to someone whose parents are still together, so that adds another Christmas. And if we go to HIS big, huge extended family, that adds another. (We usually just drop by that gathering...and mmmm, can his family ever make dessert!!) Christmas, therefore, is a stressful mess of running here and there, trying to see everyone with equal time and energy -- and my father always seemed to get the shortest, most stressed-out part of the holiday.

So we started a grand new tradition: Boxing Day. Thanks to our father, my sisters and I grew up reading English literature, so we'd always heard about Boxing Day, but we never celebrated it, of course. I read up on it, and asked some British people about it, and everyone said that today, Boxing Day is a day of big lunch and laying around. That sounded good to us, so we adapted it. We import Christmas crackers from England (thank you, Maya!), make a big roast, open one present each, and lay around in our most comfortable clothes. It's great.

At TAUNY, I found some things from a company by Saranac Lake that makes Victorian Christmas candy: Barley candy and sugarplums! I've always read about barley candy but never encountered it, and after a lifetime of reading "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," have never even thought about what sugarplums might be. But we will be trying these things on Boxing Day this year. I'll let y'all know how it goes.

On the way home from Canton, I stopped at an antique store, where an Amish man was looking for a wind-up pocket watch. I know you are not supposed to hope to meet certain kinds of people. You are supposed to see everyone as the same, and want to meet everyone equally, and find everyone fascinating. I promise I do, but I also always hope I'll get to talk to an Amish person, and at last I did! And it was as I hoped it would be. We didn't talk about anything exciting...the weather, whether it would snow, how many nooks and crannies were in the any strangers would. But Amish people are new to me, so I liked it. Anyway, I like how nice everyone always is up here, Amish or not.

On the way home from there, I had to stop in a border patrol roadblock. And here I didn't even go to Canada! I LOVE living by the border, though! It's exciting. I don't know what they were looking for...Canadians trying to sneak into New York? Why would they do that? Anyway, they were curious about my Oklahoma tag and license until they saw the military sticker on my car. So, in one day I got to talk to both an Amish person AND a border patrol agent. That makes an interesting day for me.

I'm home now, and so is Joe. He brought Tula an early Christmas present: A dog bed, which she loves already. He also brought tacos. We are going to eat them and watch "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" on television. They're playing bluegrass at, of all places, the ice rink in Watertown until 8, so we may go see that if we have the energy. Because that's the kind of thing you get to do here in the land of mist and skate to bluegrass. What a place!

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