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Friday, November 21, 2014

Poetry Friday--Thanksgiving's Comin'

Next week is Thanksgiving and the supermarkets have been jam-packed all week. This weekend will be hellish if you've waited until the last minute to shop for your Thanksgiving feast.

So many people, so much food, and so little thought given to the origins of those foods.

Today, I've selected a short poem that addresses where our foods come from. It is found in an older anthology titled, My American Heritage: A Collection of Songs, Poems, Speeches, Sayings and Other Writings Dear to Our Hearts collected by Ralph Henry and Lucile Pannell [810.8 HEN].

The poem is by Elizabeth Coatsworth, who wrote for children and adults. She lived from 1893 to 1986 (93 years).

To think I once saw grocery shops
With but a casual eye
And fingered figs and apricots
As one who came to buy!

To think I never dreamed of how
Bananas swayed in rain,
And often looked at oranges
Yet never thought of Spain!

And in those wasted days I saw
No sails above the tea--
For grocery shops were grocery shops,
Not hemispheres to me!

Can you imagine what Coatsworth would have thought of today's super stores? I'm still perplexed by mangoes (how to tell they're ripe, how to store them, etc.), would Coatsworth have even recognized the fruit's name? Or what about a dragon fruit? Or a taco shell?

By the way, one of my all-time favorite books was written by Elizabeth Coatsworth, The Cat Who Went to Heaven [J COA]; it won the Newbery Medal in 1931. If you've never read it, I recommend you pick it up--I'm sure you'll like it.

My American Heritage was published in 1949 making it 65 years old (and, it probably should be retired since I'm the only one who ever takes it out)! [Interesting aside: there's a sheet of library "General Regulations" pasted to the endpapers. One of the regulations reads, "No person will be allowed to take from the Library more than one book at a time, for his own use, and this privilege shall be allowed to every resident of the town eight years of age." ONE BOOK! Imagine that!]

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. For Poetry Friday readers, come back in two weeks, since the Library will be closed next Friday.

Today's Round-Up is being held at Tapestry of Words. (Isn't that an awesome blog name?)


  1. This poem reminded me of my grandmother who passed away in 2012 at age 96. Every time I took her out shopping, she always marveled at the huge stores and variety of items for sale. Things have really changed, haven't they?

  2. You're asking me? I remember typewriters and carbon copies!

  3. What an interesting time period Coatsworth lived through!
    "And in those wasted days I saw/ No sails above the tea--" I like this bit especially, and not just because I am a big tea drinker :-) I appreciate the way she wants to place our food in context.
    Nobody below the age of eight gets a book? I suppose they can be read to.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Well, back then the town had few residents (prior to it becoming a "bedroom community" for Boston), so I'm sure the library didn't have enough books to accommodate all readers' needs. We're much better off today with a collection of 88,561 items!