My hands are freezing. What is it about this time of year? I was just sitting on the beach, it seems, like last week, except it was actually July, but it feels so recent that this cold weather makes me feel cheated and bereft.
I’ve been playing catch-up (again) this last week after Literati Nov. 5, and I did a bunch of domestic stuff like cleaned the house, laundry, emptied my car of Literati supplies, etc. Very exciting stuff! Aren’t you glad you’re reading!?! High on my list are the thank-you notes I’ve been sending to all and sundry participants, as well as trying to wrangle up a bunch of readers for the upcoming evening of spiritual readings set for Nov. 30 at First Pres here on the Island. PR must go out immediately, so I’m wrangling like a lil’ buckaroo.
NB and FYI, I am a country girl from way back, having spent some years in my youth astride a pony or horse, as well as putting up fences, feeding cows, shearing sheep, bringing in the hay, collecting eggs, and doing general farm chores. There were more bruises from being bucked off, rubbed off, bitten or stepped on than I can remember, and one blistering hot June afternoon, I was crushed by a rearing horse who, startled by a snake, fell backward on top of me. My mother just happened to be there to pull me out from under, or I wouldn’t be writing this, and you wouldn’t be reading it. Guess what? I am a cowgirl. I earned the name…
That being said, I am far from a country girl these days, feeling more urban than anything else, just a breath away from San Francisco, and with junkets to major cities around the world under my belt. But there’s nothing like homemade plum jam or blackberry pie, nothing like a crackling fire, nothing like the smell of the air down by the creek. Now, urban Island dweller that I am, I feel chilled in the fall.
But back when, I savored the cold fog that draped the creeks alongside the road, that colored the world silver-gray, so that lone walkers with their dogs appeared like wraiths in the mist. I remember the layers of thermals, flannel and fleece we wore for morning chores, slipping my feet into cold rubber boots at 6 a.m. and breaking ice in the animals’ drinking troughs. The pipes burst in the coldest weather, and we spent one Christmas Eve mucking out a chicken barn after a massive leak. The country paradox, for those with their own wells: don’t use too much water — ever. In the summer, you’ll dry out the well. In the winter, you’ll flood the leach field. We were conservationists before there was a blush to the term, saving coffee cans for feed scoops, saving milk cartons to grow tomato seedlings. My father, a champion nail straightener, had sardine cans full of odd screws and washers, and we never met a piece of baling wire we didn’t like. There wasn’t a fence we couldn’t mend. These are things I remember with grace and gratitude.
Thanksgiving Day has always been a hard one for me — as an adolescent, I hated being forced to spend the day (endless hours, agonizing boredom) at relatives’ houses, with no TV, nothing we liked on the radio, and just inches from disaster as the gas oven exploded, or the turkey caught fire. Great-Aunt Doris pouring mushrooms into the gravy without draining the juice, or finding the giblet packet inside the turkey after cooking. Somebody always drank too much. Mud on our shoes under dress-up clothes. Always something slightly catastrophic lurked at hand. This was always the case, even after I married and we had our own celebrations, with mothers-in-law, mayhem and malcontents at the ready.
Yet here we are, just days from this year’s holiday, and I am beginning to relax, at last, after the stresses of the past months. I am looking forward to cooking my own turkey, my way, making my own pies, my own side dishes, having my girls around the table with me, with Patrick, in our snug co-house, and all that’s lacking is the rest of the clan (visitation notwithstanding). I’m in a rapture of gratitude these days, flush with the successes of recent endeavors, full to the brim with thanks at the good things in my life, at the good souls who people my days, and the good ideas that just keep coming.
I used to hate Thanksgiving, but I’ve become more grateful in recent years, in these past two years particularly, and look forward to many more of the same.
Sending out a little love to all y’all on a chilly Sunday. Color me nostalgic, maybe, and searching for mittens.
Advice to Aspiring Writers: Go with the seasons. There’s treasure there.