At 6:40 AM on Thanksgiving morning I was barely able to get the VW up the hill outside of my house in Maine. We were delayed one whole day due to a freak Nor’easter that howled and dumped ice, slush, and snow for about 10 hours straight. Even now a foot of snow covers the ground, yet no plow trucks have come by to spread sand on the icy, frozen road.
Two hundred and fifty miles of driving later , and on the very next day, I enjoyed a one hour walk with Jody, our dog, wearing just a long sleeve shirt beside the Taunton River. It’s a warm, kind place, and the soils here still look rich. I learned to swim in the warm , salty Taunton as a child. I can see why a colony of refugees would stay in these calm broad waters.
The Taunton served as an ancient water highway, since Paleo Indian artifacts found here dated small human sites 12,000 years, or some 600 generations ago.
Another historic tidbit was heavy use of the River in 1675, where the native Wampanoags battled the English settlers in King Philip’s War, considered the bloodiest war in American History. This territory is brought to life in Nathaniel Philbrook’s “Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War“.
The first Thanksgiving was held nearby here, with the real story narrower than the “table of bounty” love-fest that my sixth grade history book described. When the the Mayflower’s refugees arrived in Plymouth Harbor it was during a period of crisis for Native Americans as disease spread by European fishermen devastated their populations. Philbrook notes that initially, the two groups maintained a fragile working relationship. But the clashes of the two cultures eventually erupted into a savagely bloody conflict that nearly wiped out both the English colonists and the natives.
I recently read that “Thank you” is the only mantra that you’ll even need. It’s making big sense to me this Thanksgiving.