The big bird blow-out is over at Bosque del Apache and by the looks of things it was, as always, a big hit. If you didn’t get a chance to get to the Walk Out to Fly Out, don’t despair, you can still get up early, put on your layers and freeze to death on the flight deckwaiting for the birds to wake up. On any morning. All winter long. If it gets that cold.
I don’t know how cold it will get, but in preparing for winter I went back to my dog-eared copy of the 1817 Old Farmer’s Almanac and it gives this advice: “Kill no more squirrels than you want for your pie, nor more partridges than you want for your spit.” Those old farmers sure do have a down-to-earth way of reminding you to live within your means, I guess.
It did get down to the teens, temperature-wise, in Magdalena Saturday morning, which is cold enough to bring out my winter coat, and I’ll have to say there’s nothing like reaching into the pocket and finding that ten dollar bill you forgot about last March. Just in time for Black Friday. Or Small Business Saturday. Or Cyber Monday.
Or maybe just lunch.
I did find myself getting sentimental about all the Thanksgivings in my life; from the one when I was single and eating a Hungry Man turkey dinner to the feast with friends at Muleshoe Ranch not so long ago. Not unlike Dickens, sometime I feel like I’ve been visited by the Ghost of Thanksgiving Past.
The thing about Thanksgiving dinner is that it’s not what you eat, but that you’re sharing with others. Growing up, Thanksgiving dinner was just short of chaos at our house. It was myself and my five brothers and sisters crowded around this eight-foot dinner table that my older brother Ed custom-made in shop class. Our parents sat on the far ends. Or rather, our dad on one end and my mother eventually taking time to sit down at the other end.
Eight people, which translates to sixteen hands all reaching for bowls of mashed potatoes and gravy, green peas, candied yams, and turkey with dressing. To the best of my memory, we had dark meat and really dark meat, but I have to say our mother did the best she could.Of course, my father always had first dibs on a turkey leg, but then he had us pass it around the table, each of us taking a big bite. He said it signified our family unity and breaking bread together.
In school, Thanksgiving meant we dressed up in those big-collar pilgrim costumes for a school pageant, or drew turkeys in crayon on construction paper.We all learned about the pilgrims and Plymouth Rock, and how the local Indians – later I learned they were Wampanoag – all sat down in 1621 for the first Thanksgiving in Massachusetts.
But I was wondering, wasn’t it in 1598 the Europeans from Spain had a meal together with the locals? I mean, eight years before Jamestown and 22 years before Plymouth? I’m thinking about the first meal Don Juan Oñate and his “pilgrims” had in Pilabo Pueblo. That could qualify for a Thanksgiving of sorts, couldn’t it?
One thing I’ll always be grateful for is that my family always seemed to be like-minded on things like politics and religion – those sort of things – and it was seldom that discussions got ugly at the table. If that’s not the case for you, however, and you find yourself not wanting to indulge someone’s conspiracy theory or debate politics, here’s some advice I learned from the above-mentioned Old Farmer’s Almanac: “Take a bite of meat and chew it thoroughly, as if formulating your reply. Then, once it is well chewed and tucked in a corner of your mouth, simulate choking to death.”
Otherwise, use one of these replies. They’ll make you sound smart.
· “It all depends.”
· “You can’t generalize.”
· “C’est la vie.”
· “Things are different in [obscure region of the world].”
I just realized that as we lumber into the holiday season – well, I lumber, everyone else seems to flit along – we have an extra weekend for shopping between now and Christmas, starting with Black Friday, so we can finally get all those “early Black Friday sale” ads over with. Black Friday is not really black. For me it would be red Friday; I’d be shopping like a bull – I’d charge everything.
The good news is, since we never took them down last year, our Christmas lights are already up.