Sunday, November 29, 2009

Flying South for Thanksgiving, with Bento Box

This year we drove down to York, South Carolina to spend Thanksgiving with my husband's family. Barb, Jamison's mom, came to York eight years ago; originally from upstate New York she has lived in many international locations.

In York, she's found a place to truly settle, and has created in this quiet town just over the border from North Carolina a world rich in friends and family, nature, and wonderful animals. We share a love of cats, which makes visiting a treat! Here's Niño, King of Cats, guarding the espresso machine. He is the benevolent ruler of this realm, a calm and dignified soul who nurtures the other felines who appear here, adopted by his mom:

And Grayling, a smoky gray princess with a heart-shaped face who purrs and burbles to life around Barb:

Cats in other forms also populate her charming home:

The day before Thanksgiving was beautifully misty and overcast, a perfect day for ambling into town, a short jaunt from the house.

I loved this weathered trellis, wound about with rose vines and morning glories and several birds nests:

A pink rose in bud:

And some sprightly dogs, curious about the visitors:

Luminous coral rose hips on the trellis:

These mysterious structures, marked "Circus Winter Quarters" have always suggested to us an early R.E.M. song with their "Fables of the Reconstruction" aura. At the York Wedding Chapel, delicate and beautiful wrought iron work:

Diana in the Chapel garden:

These buildings looked almost Romanesque in their brick solidity:

The Sylvia Theatre is a restored landmark featuring live entertainment:

For pre-Thanksgiving dinner a meal of salad,

and the amazing lumpia our friend Gaylen made:

Thanksgiving morning dawned chilly and damp. The dining room fireplace made for a quite cozy scene:

Our contribution to the day's feast was a portabella mushroom, fresh fennel, pecan, and golden raisin stuffing. For the stuffing, fresh thyme separated from the stem:

Outside, a pink rose:

And Barb's hens, in earnest conversation:

The Thanksgiving meal: for me, its all about the side dishes! Butternut squash:

Cranberry and orange sauce with ginger:

Our fennel-mushroom-pecan stuffing:

A festive plate (mine):

Aunt Pat brought an amazing apple pie, made with homegrown Granny Smith apples:

Post-meal, candlelit quiet and cats: (above photo by Jamison)

The day after Thanksgiving was wonderfully relaxed--just right for exploring outside and making a Thanksgiving leftovers bento! These hibiscus buds in the garden caught my eye:

As did this lovely spearmint:

Barb helpfully gathered purple-marbled green beans and a decorative wildflower for the bento (I brought the trusty flower-shaped wooden box along for this visit), which also included a toasted roll filled with turkey, fennel-mushroom stuffing and fig jam, red-leaf lettuce, cranberry-orange sauce, local pecans, mint, and a tangerine wedge:

The rich, fertile land here is great for gardening. Barb's basil tomatoes elevate any dish to a sublime, sunny place:

Her fig-strawberry preserves:

Tree branches viewed from the hammock:

Loulou the Lab came by to visit:

While inside, Niño played "Test Your I.Q.":

Overnight, the first frost came, glazing the yard near the fig trees and reminding us of winter, and cozy times ahead: