Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Trois… deux… un… bonne année!!!!

In just a couple days the call of "Happy New Year" will echo around the world. Celebrations in cities and in small towns will light up the night skies. In my family we'd always head to a neighbor's house, where we would share a potluck dinner, board games for the kids, wine and discussion for the grown-ups, and everyone would gather round the tv screen to count down the fireworks from the Space Needle at midnight. We'd all have glasses of sparkling cider or champagne and some kind of noisemaker for the big moment. Kisses would be exchanged; the fireworks would be appreciated along with the sounds of a classical symphony. Then we'd slowly walk home as a family in the cold morning air. Finally we'd snuggle into our beds to sleep in on New Year's Day. From what I've read and heard, New Year's Eve in France, la Réveillon or la Saint-Sylvestre, is pretty similar.

Parties can consist of close friends and relatives or be with hundreds of people in a public venue. Some traditional foods you’ll find at these gatherings include des huitres, du saumon fumé, de la foie gras and du champagne. Starting off the new year by kissing friends and family under the mistletoe is common. And wishing folks a bonne année continues into February. One French comedian, Gad Elmaleh, has even included this practice in one of his stand ups.


From all of us here on Canoe, Bonne Année!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Artisans and Crafts

“What are you making?” I ask the pint sized soccer player to my right. 

"A cat!" he enthusiastically replies. His cat is fashioned from an old sock, limbs from other stuffed animals and a blue felt smile. It's zany and oh so creative. And he made it himself. So much confidence can come from creating things oneself, like campers do at Canoe Island French Camp. This is why I love crafts, and the artisanal culture of France, that values handmade products by local merchants. This French sentiment was very much present at this fall's San Juan County Textile Guild Craft Expo.

The guild hosts many mediums for design. Knitting, spinning, beading, basketry, quilting and weaving were all available for people to learn at the fair. I was drawn to a huddle of kids and adults sitting on a quilt on the floor. In the middle of the circle was a pile of stuffed animal carnage, fabrics, yarn and fluff. Francie and Cindy were helping folks fabricate their very own frank-n-animal. The results were adorable.

A bunny/ bear farmer in an orange tutu left with a little girl. She was proud to introduce it to everyone. The cat earlier described was to be a gift for the family puppy. In a society where things are designed to be thrown away, and kids are taught to always be asking for new things, it was nice to see kiddos finding value in the old, the ripped, the discarded. Whether you are sewing together a new stuffed animal, knitting a hat or quilting a blanket, creating something with your own hands is satisfying and rejuvenating. As we approach the holiday season, I encourage you to consider crafting some of your gifts. You might find a new skill!