By Fran Syverson
“What is some trip that you’d really like to take; some place you’d really like to visit?” I’d asked my husband. He’d had a brush with a scary hospital trip recently, and we were both beginning to take our “bucket list” more seriously.
“Well, I’ve heard Bora Bora is one of the most beautiful places on earth,” he said. Umm-sounded good to me!
So, taking advantage of vacation days and the Thanksgiving weekend, here we were in Bora Bora. From a rope hammock, we could savor its azure waters, swaying palm trees, and sun-brushed sandy beaches. Our cottage, like its neighbors, was designed to look “native,” and create the illusion that we were roughing it, sort of. Bamboo chairs with cushions of tropical-themed fabrics welcomed us to lounge inside as well as out.
With soft, sultry breezes wafting over our bodies, we could oh, so easily, be lulled into afternoon naps any time of the day. One afternoon, while he read (and dozed), I enjoyed a lesson in flower arranging. Using the glorious local blossoms, even I, a complete novice, made a handsome arrangement. The frangipani, like its plumeria cousin, gave off a heady, fruity fragrance. Their pastel yellow and pink hues were entrancing.
So this was Thanksgiving weekend! Talk about being in a time and place where Thanksgiving seemed remote and inconsequential! It was hard to conjure memories of snowy Thanksgiving Days in my Wisconsin childhood. To remember tables laden with turkey, stuffing, cranberries, candied yams topped with mini-marshmallows, and green bean casseroles. Oh, and pumpkin pie, of course. All those woman-hours of work which produced those feasts-yes, hard to remember that, too. Or the way the football games dominated the television screen and the family conversations…
But all that was long ago and far away. Thanksgiving Day being an American celebration, we naturally expected that no nod would be made toward it in this French Polynesian island. Wrong! When we went to dinner in a fine restaurant and saw the menu, we realized that, of course, we weren’t the only American tourists vacationing there. The chef had outdone himself in preparing a fine Thanksgiving dinner with all the makin’s, one that would remind all of us of home. Almost…the variations were interesting and charming. The turkey wasn’t sliced, but was served in chunks, more or less like a beef pot roast. The yams weren’t golden nor in a casserole- they were a plain side dish, and were a soft green color. The pumpkin pie was the closest approximation-a scrumptious pumpkin soufflé. And why not? Aren’t soufflés French?
What a memorable meal!…for here I am indeed, decades later, remembering it. And thinking how gracious it was of people in a far distant land to prepare a sentimental, traditional, American Thanksgiving dinner for its guests. Chunky turkey, greenish yams, pumpkin soufflé…It was a unique, fabulous meal to savor both in the eating and in the memories.