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Salinas
July 20, 2024

Window on the World Column | Gratitude

October is a funny old month. Some days are hot as summer, yet with stilled winds in the afternoons and an icy bite to the early mornings and evenings. November can be more of the same, yet the time of year is marked by the turn of the vines — the rich colors bending from yellows and greens to dark reds and near black hues as the darker days of winter approach. I love this time of year, though my body struggles with the changing temperatures and oftentimes fights a cold through the transition of the seasons.

As I drove across the valley, I was stunned by the array of autumnal colors — the swathes of yellow and green, then the fall vines telling us about the time of the year, fruit flies hanging onto the last drips of nectar. Halloween is just a memory of rotting pumpkins and seasonal décor leaning toward Thanksgiving, one of the most civilized dates on the American calendar.

As I crossed the Green Bridge onto Arroyo Seco Road and saw the whisper of the river still running, I felt overcome with gratitude for the place we call home, the beauty of the hills and fields, the blessing of the fresh airs all around. We really do live in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

And here we are a skip away from Thanksgiving. I recall my early experiences of Thanksgiving — the strange mixes of fruit and jelly on a plate with turkey and sweet potato. Pumpkin pie for dessert with a sweet-savory taste that I found rather bizarre. I may not have understood the combination of flavors, but I learned to accept them over time in my palate and enjoy the meaning of the season.

I do recall that people were kinder to us over Thanksgiving. Whatever we experienced other times of the year, there was a sense of calm gratitude that came over folk around the holiday that they passed along to others; a time to take stock and be thankful for all the plenty in their lives.

I’ll never forget someone trying to give us a Thanksgiving basket from the Salvation Army our very first Thanksgiving in Louisiana and I refused it, thinking it was charity that we didn’t need and not just the meaning of the season, sharing with those less fortunate that our neighbors thought appropriate for us.

I like hearing about food drives and free Thanksgiving meals in our local communities. It makes me feel a part of something much larger than myself. This year, the Soledad Merchants Association is having a Business Expo at the Community Center, this Thursday, Nov. 9,from 5-8pm. The entrance fee is a canned good or non-perishable food item — or as many as you can afford to donate — to help the Salvation Army feed those who struggle to feed themselves; and as winter arrives in our area, there is a very real need for that.

The crops move to Arizona and things dry up and hibernate here until the spring. I used to like to do shoe and jacket drives also this time of year to share with our local families. I often cast a look back to my first Thanksgiving over here when I didn’t even have a bed or furniture to my name — just the shell of a rather large and leaky doublewide trailer home on the bayou in Louisiana.

It’s important not to forget those times when you were hungry, without, less than. There are many community organizations out there that can help and will equally receive help from you, when you are in a position to give. Pass it along, I have said to people when they thank you. When you are able to, pass it on. Don’t forget the pets either! If families are having struggles feeding themselves, it is likely that their pets are more than left behind. I shall be adding some extra cans of pet food into the food drive pantry this Thursday.

When you look outside your window this fall, stop for a minute to examine all the beauty in our autumnal colors, spare a thought for those less fortunate and think about how you might be able to contribute. There are way too many families in our community who suffer food anxiety. If, like me, you currently don’t, it’s your responsibility to step up and assist. I could not imagine if my children were hungry. Could you?

I’ll never forget the Salvation Army food basket that arrived like a surprise at my door in Back of Brusly, Louisiana on Thanksgiving Day. Had I been hungry at the time, that basket full of goodies would have shown up like manna from heaven.

We are so lucky to live where we do in the salad bowl of the world. When the lettuce crop and the summer fruits are no longer feeding the families that pick the crops, we must all gather together and add the help where the help is due.

It’s called humanity.

This Thursday, go by the South County Expo/job fair from 5-8pm at the Soledad Community Center on Walker Drive with your cans of non-perishable foodstuff donations and be a part of the change you wish to see in our local communities. You’ll also get to visit with local businesses that help to keep the dollars circulating locally. Thank you so much.

Happy early Thanksgiving.

Lucy Jensen
Lucy Jensen
Soledad columnist Lucy Jensen may be reached at [email protected].

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