Color Change


Yellow, orange, and red stand out as the colors of harvest. Yellow corn, bright orange pumpkins, and a dash of red apple are displayed against the traditional turkey brown.

Today my Thanksgiving and Harvest decorative items will come down from the shelf and go into the box. They are off to rest for eleven months or so in the dark and (we hope) dry.

Fallen maple and oak leaves fall out of interest – we’ve trampled and raked until we gaze at rake rough hands and mutter insults at the remains. But wait – Thanksgiving is not a morning, or a day, or even several. It’s an emotion, a way to look at the world and appreciate sunshine and blue sky no matter temperature in single or triple digits.

Yes, the season is over. One thing gives way to another. But I’ll take one more look before I close one box and reach for another.

Give Thanks

New items come out of another box. Red and green with an accent of white or a dash of gold. Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming!


Non-traditional Leftovers

How many ways and how many meals of the traditional American Thanksgiving feast can a person eat? Endless. So I won’t even try to address them.

Here are some alternative feasts to consider for next year. Tried and tested on holidays by myself and two teen boys. They wanted ‘different’.

Italian: We started with lasagana, one of their favorites, and built around it.

Duck: A search of cookbooks found an aromatic spice rub. And what could be more delightful than a sixteen year-old boy talking to a duck while massaging spices into his skin?

Baked fish: A trip to an International grocery store resulted in a sea bass that just fit at an angle on a jelly roll pan. We stuffed him with lemon and onion – after the other boy – held him firm, looked him in the lips, and informed him of his responsbility to be a tasty main course. Fish took his advice.

Other: We selected a Greek theme the year we found lamb to roast.  Deep fried everything – mushrooms, onion rings, potatoes, fish, and shrimp the year the oven didn’t work. And the final year, when only one came home from college for the holiday, we tried Cajun. Jambalaya with shrimp and alligator sausage with home made sweet potato pie for dessert.  Life is good.

Give thanks for…family, memories, and adventures in the kitchen.


Memorable Turkey

Fifteen years after roasting my first Thanksgiving turkey my husband and I celebrated our first Thanksgiving in our house – previous years were in a series of apartments.

We invited a couple from down the street to celebrate with us. They lived a two hour drive from their family. She freely admitted that cooking rested at the bottom of her abilities.

The glitch?  I worked in the medical field and this was my holiday to work.

No problem says the husband that could cook but had never roasted poultry. The three of them would start the turkey and I could finish things up when I got off work mid-afternoon. It would be a supper instead of noon meal. No sweat.

By the second or third phone call I knew something odd was going on. Was it my final instructions of the evening before? Had I forgotten something important?

In a word — Yes.

When husband went to stuff the pre-made dressing into the bird he remembered my instructions to fill the neck cavity. What he forgot was to look at the other end of the bird and fill the main cavity. Our guests? Didn’t have a clue.

Give thanks for…..friends, work, and extra cassarole dishes for dressing to bake aside the bird.



First Turkey

When I was a child our Thanksgiving feast was more often chicken than turkey. So it was rather special the year I was twelve and dad announced that he’d ordered a turkey that year.

A few days later a good friend stopped in and offered mother free transportation if she wanted to visit her brother three states away for the holiday. An exchange of phone calls, a written menu, and a hasty lesson in making the stuffing later she left on a fine November morning.

Thanksgiving morning included the usual farm chores for dad and my seventeen year-old brother. I busied myself with putting the stuffing together, filled the bird (don’t forget the neck cavity), and getting it all secure in the oven before we left for church services.

It was the last minute things that got me. Oh, I had help. My brother was always good about setting the table, putting on the side dishes and that sort of thing. And the bird looked good, smelled better, and filled me with pride. Until…

gravy….dad never claimed to be much of a cook, but…

Thanks that Thanksgiving that he stepped in and gave me the cooking lesson I needed. Was it lumpy? I can’t remember. I do recall that we had a fine feast and the lessons learned that holiday have served me well through the years.

Thanks for…family, lessons, and daily bread.



Seasonal Sport

The days of November start cool and dark. The long days of summer are past, the earth prepares for winter.

And in a ritual older than the nation the hunters gather, prepare their weapons, and go out to lay in the winter supply of meat. It’s been modified in the last century or more. We have rules and seasons and limits now.

The hunters purchase ammunition at a store. No longer are they molding their own bullets for a smooth bore musket.

Solo or in small groups they drive to their favorite hunting ground. Aside from a dwindling number they don’t live, own, and hunt on the same portion of land.

When successful they register the kill, own the meat and hide. Will it be used? Very often the answer is yes. Is it the only method to fill the winter larder -freezer- not in this decade.

Does the author have mixed feelings of hunting season? No, I consider it a good thing when hunters pay attention to the safety and shoot the game, not each other.

Oh – Please pass the venison!



On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the year of our Lord 1918 the guns fell silent across Europe.

Church bells rang with joy across the United States.

Peace! Peace! The Great War is over!

The veterans of that conflict have passed into history. They leave a legacy of honor, and courage, and bravery. During conflict they died in all the usual ways and a few new ones – poison gas, machine guns, tanks – the instruments of war grew and multiplied. Trenchfoot, typhus, and influenza thinned their ranks.

Unnoticed at first, seeds of future wars were sown. Sons of these veterans would fight on these same fields and new ones. Grandsons would experience combat in jungle nations slighted in the Great Peace.

Take a moment at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in this year of our Lord 2011 to stand in silent honor for all the veterans of all the wars.

In Honor



Feathered Sentry


The bird sweeps across from one yard to another with an easy stroke of wide wings. He’s the king of the neighborhood and claims his right to the tallest perch with the best view.

What’s he seeking? Breakfast, lunch, and dinner of course.

He studies the ground below him. Rabbit? Chipmunk? Mouse? A little movement in the unkept grass deserves a long look. No, merely human trash, not worth a descent.

One more moment with fast moving traffic below him and he’s off again. Our neighborhood, feathered hunter.

Feathered Sentry

Seasonal Glory

Autumn leaves!!!

Bright yellow, orange, and red crayons busy filling in the outline of maple leaves. A little dash of brown on the oak leaf shape. The students work at a serious attempt to capture the beauty outside the window.

Cool mornings bring sweaters and jackets to school. Sunny afternoons and chattering with friends lead to the same sweaters and jackets left on school bus seats as students exit.

Swish!  Crunch!  Young feet shuffle and step on the crisp leaves that have had their burst of color and lost their grip on the limb. Enjoy the day, the beauty, the fleeting passage from one season to another. Save the rakes and bags for the weekend.

Autumn Glory

All Saints Day

Christian churches thoughout the world celebrate today. Many people will reflect on the lives of departed loved ones.

The dictionary gives several definitions for “saint”. The one most appropriate for today is: “one of the spirits of the departed in heaven”.

Many churches will take special note today, or this coming Sunday, of members whose earthly lives ended this past year. It is good to reflect on this – not with sadness, but with anticipation and joy.

Many years ago I was involved with a church that took a Sunday School field trip to celebrate this occassion. The destination? A large, local cemetery where the teachers gathered the children around and spoke about death, and funerals, and heaven. An introduction to All Saints.