Fiddlehead Season ~ Thoughts on Friendship, Hospitality & Vegan Eats

Friends came to visit this weekend. These are our friends with a farm, and the only other homeschooling family we know on the peninsula.

Having them stay for a couple nights was a real treat. Their children speak French, our children speak English. Spending time together is a great way to develop friendship and language learning.

kids playing chess

On Saturday afternoon we took our visiting friends to a local greenhouse, owned by some other friends.

They were having a big do on Saturday celebrating the arrival of spring and the greenhouse opening, but also celebrating fashion and design; as well as featuring a local company with aims to produce and sell raw food in the community. Flowers, design, raw food - yep, we are all over that.

greenhouse festival decorating

While at the greenhouse I ran into a lot of friends. Like I was telling Damien afterward, "I know people here and they know me".

flower dress Frett design

We've lived here for 18 months and the area is starting to feel like home for me. Anyone who has pulled up stakes from one life to start another can appreciate this feeling of friendship and belonging.

flower dress Frett design

Late Sunday morning our friends left and we all crashed. I spent a long time sitting in the sun, watching the birds. And then, leaving the dishes and clean-up undone, I laid down for a delicious Sunday afternoon nap. I was awoken an hour later or so by the sound of different friends arriving at our door.

purple finches in tree

They were in the neighborhood and decided to pop in. We don't get a lot of friends "dropping by", we live at the end of the road. But these friends were out collecting fiddleheads for their supper, along the river where we live, and they truly were in the neighborhood. A rare treat for us.

handmade willow deck chair

It was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. I awoke from my nap refreshed and happy to visit some more. Isn't that what weekends are for?

The house was in a state of post-visitor mess, but it didn't matter. Friends don't care. We sat outside in the sun anyway.

(An aside: I never apologize for my house, for its cleanliness or uncleanliness. "Sorry about the mess", is a phrase that makes me cringe.)

Our kids served our new guests some snacks - ricecakes and leftovers from the weekend. And a new posse of kids took turns jumping on the trampoline. And then the water hose came out and it felt like the perfect end to a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

kids with face paints

This week, Heather's 30 Day Vegan course starts. I don't know if I mentioned it on the blog this time around. I know I mentioned it in my newsletter.

For this new session I wrote an article about vegan hospitality. And I thought how fitting our weekend was in light of that topic.

Also, I thought it ironic that a lot of the food I prepared and served this weekend - vegan, whole-food fare - were Heather's recipes from her most recent Whole Food Kitchen course.

Heather's recipes are really good and they are becoming go-to meals in our home. They are, "I want that recipe" kind of good. If she ever releases her Lemon Un-Cheesecake recipe - run, not walk, to prepare that for your family and friends.

greenhouse pansies

I want to share one small snippet from the piece I wrote for the current 30 Day Vegan course. I think it weaves the threads of this blog post into a nice conclusion.

Hospitality is a big part of our family culture. Sharing meals with family, friends and even strangers is just something we do, and often.


We've moved around a lot in the last two years and from that experience we have learned even more the importance of hospitality in meeting people and creating friendship.


Someone asked me on my blog recently if I had any advice for making new friends and settling into a new community after a long distance move. Without a doubt the most important thing for us has been our eagerness to accept, and willingness to extend, hospitality.


For us, hospitality is about building relationship. And relationship building is one of our core family values.


Health and wellness are also core family values. We eat a plant-based diet to maintain and build our health. We've eaten this way for over a decade, raising our children on mostly plants.


Building relationship through regular hospitality and building and supporting health with plant-based eating - both of these are key pieces to our family culture.

The rest of my piece, to be published at 30 Day Vegan, is about bringing together these two values - hospitality and plant-based eating.

vegan finger foods lunch

It's going to be a good week around these parts. Celine turns fourteen in a few days. More friends, more food. (Not all vegan, wiggle room is part of our plant-based eating philosophy.) We're two weeks away from race weekend (health and physical fitness in the context of community) and a short visit with my parents. More food, more family.

And then we launch into June and a full summer of local plant foods in our kitchen (yeah!), travel and hospitality, family, friends and community.

fiddle head face painting

Fiddlehead season into summer, it's a good time of year.

This just in - registration is still open at 30 Day Vegan, until Wednesday this week. If you haven't joined yet and want a gentle (in Heather's signature style) nutritional boost for this spring, there's still time to sign up. I highly recommend Heather's courses, but I think you got that already (smile).

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Fiddlehead Season ~ The Greening time of Year »
  • Susan

    Susan on May 20, 2013, 5:50 p.m.

    I really enjoy your blog - it is one of only 2 that I read on a regular basis.  I loved your comment about never saying "sorry about the mess".  As a homeschooling wife and mom with 7 kids and a small farm in western Canada, our house often looks lived in.  When friends pop in I just say "don't mind the mess cause I don't mind it" :)

    Enjoy the long awaited spring!


  • Catherine Forest

    Catherine Forest on May 21, 2013, 4:23 a.m.

    What a joyful post! Hospitality and plant-based food! Yes, please! And, I find that it is also a great way to have meat-eaters discover how delicious and easy to prepare vegan food can be! I love the costumes! So Québécois!


  • Alaina

    Alaina on May 22, 2013, midnight

    This is a good reminder about hospitality.  I think I was the one that asked about building community after moving. You know what we have run into though a lot?  Inviting people over and having them say "well we are really busy right now, but we will get back to you" and then they never do...then we ask again...same then we start to think that they must not want to be friends so we need to move on to someone else, and this happens quite a bit....which makes us start to think something is wrong with us!  But then we run into those people elsewhere and it seems that they don't want to avoid us, but it seems like they truly are "too busy" for friendships!  Yikes!  I hope I am never that busy.  It seems everyone is telling us they are "busy".  Anyways, we've tried again and have a couple coming over this weekend for supper.  However we do long for some families to visit with as well.  So, I was wondering do you ever encounter this issue with people not having time?  Maybe it depends on where a person moves to.  I know where we live, we are considered very strange- all the things we do differently than others.  But I would assume its similar for you with where you live.  I thought maybe it had a bit to do with where we live being fairly French culture as well but you don't seem to have that issue.  Maybe it also takes more time.


    • renee

      renee on May 22, 2013, 1:06 p.m.


      Your comment has me thinking. I think that overall culture has something to do with it. No one here has ever been too busy to accept our hospitality. But then again we live in a place where people value quality of life. They don't live here for the shopping or big city jobs. People live here because 1) they're born here and don't move elsewhere or 2) (and these are most our friends) they choose to live here for quality of life. Perhaps that has something to do with it?

      I remember encountering people in Maine too busy for hospitality but not here. 

      That's not to say life is perfect here. People here have been very hospitable but we have zero homeschool community. 

      If people don't accept your invitations and say they're too busy, I would accept that at face value. Don't think there is something wrong with you! I will say, our family has never turned down a supper/meal invitation. 

      I don't know if other people think we're strange but we definitely have different values than the culture at large, but we're used to that. That hasn't seemed to turn too many people off because I think we're quite friendly and likeable (smile). At least I hope so. We don't push or preach our values (whether those are food, faith, schooling, whatever) on other others and we genuinely enjoy getting to know people. 

      Just to encourage you - we lived here for 17 months before we connected with another Christian family. I don't know your beliefs but in our case our faith is really important to us and central to our lives. We have been lonely in that regard here. But we keep on keeping on (smile). 

      I agree, Alaina, I don't ever want to be too busy for hospitality or friendships. I feel bad sometimes that we're not more available. We set aside one night a week for getting together with people, usually Saturday night. I wish we were available more often. However, Damien works on weekday evenings so those nights don't work for us.  

      You live in a mostly French culture also? In Canada? I'm curious, if you're willing to share, where you live (roughly). 


      • Alaina

        Alaina on May 22, 2013, 2:47 p.m.

        Thanks for the encouragement Renee.  I think you hit the nail on the head: people are here for two reasons it seems: they were born here OR they are here for jobs.  The kinds of jobs are the kinds that last for a while and then people move on to the next place where there is work.  This is not the type of place people choose to live otherwise.  Its a place people joke about wanting to leave (us included although we are working on attitude as that is a huge part of embracing what we have).  We, unfortunately, are here for the job (my husband's).  Its not something we like saying but its true.  But we have to have money to live.  We are not in a place in our lives, and probably never will be, where we can be out of that way of life where we have to be tied to the job for where we live.  We're in Northern Ontario.   People that are from here seem to have lots of family here and do stuff with family.  

        We are also open to friendships with people who do not believe the same things as us or do all the same things as us etc.  However I find it doesn't work well because we are simply not going to start putting our kids in activities all the time that we don't want to be part of or do things that don't reflect our family's values (which are similar to yours) just to fit in.  I know you don't do this either.  What types of things are you meeting people at?  I am searching out what I can join up with that reflects our values more- but there seems to be very little that we can do as a family.  There are things for the kids and things for the adults but its seperate.  We go and do things as a family ourselves but its lonely.  

         I am definately used to being different than the culture at large.  I think I come across as friendly and likeable and accepting of others...I do work at it.  So I think its just what you said: that I need to accept their comment at face value (they are too busy) and keep working at inviting others without being discouraged and keep hoping.

        I am very curious though to hear more about what types of things you do to get out in the community to meet people.  I know you have mentioned some things.  Where do you meet the people you invite over?  I am genuinely trying and have been combing through the community events listings and helped organize things with the few local homeschoolers we do have but still no lasting connections.  It also takes time, like you said.  

        Anyways thank you for the encouragement and listening. :)


        • renee

          renee on May 23, 2013, 11:22 a.m.

          Alaina, it's ok to live somewhere for work. In a sense, we too live here for work. We were in the process of immigrating to the US, so we could remain in Maine. But that didn't work out and we had to move to where we could work in freedom, which put us back in Canada. It's all relative. And we are all tied to work, or family, or some other factor, in one way or another (smile).

          As for befriending "the locals". I hear you. Every place we have lived it seems that people have family they spend a lot of time with, understandably. And we have never lived near our family, so extended family does not factor into our regular, weekly schedule.

          We also don't do kids sports, nor school, so that eliminates two biggies for meeting families. Here's some places we've met people since moving here:

          neighborhood, literally our road. These are seasonal contacts mostly since we live at the ski hill and don't have permanent neighbors the ski hill itself. we found our house and made awesome friends through our first telemark ski lesson last winter. Interestingly, that same day, as meeting our instructors, we invited them to share a meal with us, that very day. repeated attendance at community events. last fall we participated in community fun runs. the running was fun but everything was all in french and most of the people spoke only french. the first one we didn't meet anyone but by the 5th race (our family just kept showing up!) we were starting to meet people tae-kwon-do. last fall the kids took this for a couple months and we met people

          Because we're active, outdoorsy people that's where we tend to meet people, at similar events and venues. Some of our closest friends from Maine, we met while hiking. That was a chance encounter that has totally changed our lives for the better.

          Also, I have been know to invite complete strangers to camp out at our house.

          Here's the story of how we met one family here. Friends from our old neighborhood told us that an English-speaking family moved into the area (close to the first chalet we rented when moving here). We wanted to connect with them but didn't know how to meet them but we knew where they lived. So one Saturday afternoon while Celine and I were at french class Damien just showed up at their house to say Hi and "we're new to the area, and we hear you are also." We got their phone number and e-mail and then invited them to supper. And that started a friendship.

          If a the health food store cashier seems especially friendly I'll ask for her e-mail. (smile).

          I will say our family often feels alone in our "do things as a family philosophy". Not many people we know share that same interest, as strongly as we do. We meet and get along with a lot of different types of people but it is hard to sometimes it is hard connect with families. We are grateful for the families we have met here.

          Keep at it. Think that each new person (or family) you meet might end up being a good friend.


          • Alaina

            Alaina on May 23, 2013, 4:31 p.m.

            Thanks Renee!! I really appreicate your thorough answer.  Want to move here? LOL  We are very similar (hence the reason I read your blog).  We don't live anywhere near extended family either and we also don't do kids sports, and I homeschool. I think that is why I have trouble since those are the natural avenues for meeting people with kids. We are also active, outdoorsy people, too....unfortunately, where I live there doesn't seem to be much for family inclusive events and things along this line.  When we are out and about, as I mentioned, we normally don't see families or even children out enjoying parks and trails and things we are doing.  I will have to keep looking around for community things.  It takes a while to figure out all of the stuff that is happening in a community.  I just found out about art lessons that are offered here.  I never would have thought that was here.

            I'm glad to see that although you are similar to me in your beliefs and convictions you have been able to figure out how to make it work for you to build community.  Its very inspiring for me.  I think this has really helped me know where to go from here- I need inspiration, hard work and a willingness to accept and move on when it doesn't work out, even if it takes longer than I would like. 

            Thank you!!!


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