Grand Turk friends and fellow travelers celebrate the American Holiday of Thanksgiving with Valley-ites Sasha Walsh, Bruce Hyde, Molly Reis, Kathy and Tom Mehuron and Brian Kitchens.
Good fortune, like good health, is never a given. The Mehuron family wishes you all a peaceful and healthy holiday season.
This Thanksgiving was remarkable for the Mehuron family because we celebrated the 10th anniversary of our discovery of Grand Turk Island in Turks and Caicos, the British West Indies. We often describe the community as “Waitsfield in the Caribbean,” One comparative example is that across the entire island there is not a single traffic light. Another is that when you meet someone on the street they will say hello to you just like at home. If it’s early in the day, they actually say, “Mornin’, mornin’,” by way of a greeting and with their Caribbean accent it’s almost like a song. Locals are every bit as friendly as Valley folks too. And just like home they will show up when someone is in trouble.
The day after American Thanksgiving is a holiday particular to the island. A few years ago on that day a roadworker was grading the street in front of our house with heavy machinery. His plow accidentally pulled up an underground electrical conduit and broke it open. As I stared down at the torn wires sparking and jumping around, I lifted my glance to see two children coming toward us on bicycles. I was terrified for their safety but was pretty sure that it wasn’t a great idea for me to step out on the ground to warn them as I was concerned I might be shocked by the power line even from a distance. My knees nearly gave out with relief when I saw men in their holiday dress clothes walking to the site from every possible direction. Some of them were friends who put their arms around me to comfort me. But most turned out to be tradesmen who had jumped up from their dinner table with their families and answered the call to cut the power off. People joke about things running on island time around here, but I promise you that I have never seen a group of people move so fast. They took care of the problem and me. Avoiding that tragedy turned out to be bonding and many of my rescuers are still good friends of ours. People taking care of each other is the kind of thing that happens in the Mad River Valley too.
Grand Turk Island has one pharmacy, and I suppose that beats The Valley since we lost ours to a fire a few years ago. There is a small hospital which is some comfort in the event of an emergency. It also has one pretty good-sized supermarket—bigger than Mehuron’s. But you must plan your shopping excursions around the once-a-week boat shipment of groceries and produce.
As far as clothing goes you should bring everything you need with you. It’s not a place where you come to shop for couture or even TJ Max. But the payoff is that the island is as pristine and safe as the Caribbean can be. There’s rarely another person on our beach but us. And you will not find locals hawking their goods (legal and otherwise) while you are trying to snooze in the sun.
The first time we came 10 years ago, we brought the whole family including our matriarch— Tom’s mother Irene Mehuron. And we celebrated Thanksgiving with turkey that was smoked with Haitian charcoal cooked by our South African chef. The meal was not exactly the feast we were used to, but it was delicious all the same. Though the flavors were unexpected at the time they are something we look forward to now.
The sobering part of the long journey to get to Grand Turk is that Tom and I are getting older. More and more this is presenting some challenges. Though there is a drug store, the pharmacists may have to send to Providenciales to fly your medication over. And that might take a day or two to get on island. The need for even as simple a thing as an antibiotic can get alarming. In serious cases of illness or injury we would be air lifted to Miami. Our son Dr. Mehuron is quick to point out the danger of lost time if one of us were to have a heart attack or stroke. Though we aren’t ready to surrender to a life without this magical place, unfortunately, the reality is at the back of Tom’s and my minds.
There will certainly be more trips down, but you can hardly say many trips. The average life expectancy in America is 77 years. Tom and I are both 68 years old. Not a giant window of time from 68 to 77. There will be some more trips perhaps. If we are lucky. But we have lost the youthful feeling that the future is infinite. You might have heard me say, because I do say it all the time: If life is a three-act play, I want to make my last a grand finale. Though we can’t stop the consequences of aging, we are doing pretty well chasing down our bucket list. Who would ever have thought that Tom would ever retire? But he did. Now we travel. Follow the sun. Enjoy the simple times in the outdoors. And, most importantly, we try to cherish every day.
So, what am I most thankful for during this holiday time of 2023? I am thrilled with the life we have so carefully crafted and that we have the ability (most of the time) to live fully. Gratitude fills my heart when I think of how well my children and their spouses are doing. And not everyone gets to marry the love of their lives. I try to remember that and tell Tom as often as I can. And today we are both healthy and have the love of our dear friends. Everything else, as wonderful as it is, is just gravy. Gravy like you put on your mashed potatoes and stuffing. Rich and satisfying. An embarrassment of good fortune.
And we wish you all the same my friends. Peace, family, friends, and good health this holiday season. Please cherish the days if you can.
Mary Kathleen Mehuron lives in Waitsfield and writes novels and publishes nonfiction books about the Mad River Valley. Reach her at