Well, that was crackerjack. Right down to the stuffing, which was Cracker Jack. Obviously no; just kidding – hah hah! Oh, wipe away the tears, such is the mirth we make here. But perhaps it might made good stuffing. If you put the recipe in NASCAR TODAY magazine, people would scoff; put it in Bon Appetit, note how a French chef had discovered a delightful new use for le Craqeur Jacque, and some people couldn’t jam it in a bird-hole fast enough.

I didn’t shoot enough video; I never do. There’s something about the day that doesn’t lend itself to videography. Every year I end up with the same footage: the table, nicely set; the womenfolk in the kitchen; the kids cavorting; then the picture jumps ahead three hours to an empty table and a sink full of dishes. Just as well, right? I can’t imagine wanting to watch footage of people spooning out the yams or passing the stuffing. But I’d spend half the day on a website that had footage of strangers doing it 70 years ago.

The wine was excellent: for a white we had Jungle Room, made by a Bleat reader. Crisp and tart and delightful. The red was a French number from the Loire, brought by my French brother-in-law. (The man knows wine, and approved heartily of the Jungle Room as well.) The highlight of the meal, I think, was the gravy; my wife coaxed the most amazing gravy out of the drippings I’ve ever tasted. I want someone to convert it into those melt-a-way strips, because there will be cold bleak days ahead, and I know my mood would be cheered if I could pop into my mouth a tiny fast-dissolving strip of gravy. You could pour that gravy on the bones of the Founders and they would come back to life. And then you’d have confused skeletons who would sit up and look around with sightless sockets, wave their arms in panic and attempt to scream through skinless mouths, which would be pretty horrible for all concerned. So don’t do that.

The pies were two-fold: the pumpkin, and the pecan. The latter was made with Target pancake topping cinnamon-infused maple syrup. Unbelievable.  Then we had a merry dispute about environmentalism and landfills and consumerism while the girls put together a “show” in the basement. The “show” consisted of dancing around while the dog rolled on his back and whined in distress, convinced that madness had taken over the house. You could see his point; there was a plate of turkey upstairs that no one was eating, and it could be eaten, and it should be eaten, and it must be eaten, yet it was not being eaten. Ergo: madness. (Or ergot: madness, if you want to blame the dancing on the bread.)

Later, my father called to report on Thanksgiving, Fargo style. They went to the feast at the Holiday Inn, as ever, assembling massive concatenations of carbs and bird-slabs from the steaming tables, along with 5000 of their fellow Fargoans. I asked if he took a nap afterwards; no, he got on his Harley, he said. They didn’t have any snow; the roads were dry. He drove to his gas station and filled up; drove around town; hit the highway and opened it up to 75 MPH. “I’m still trying to get warm,” he said. It was 20 degrees. He’s 81.

Now it’s later, and everyone, being tired of the wonderful togetherness, has retreated to individual media realms. (G)Nat is drawing Pokemons; I am doing this; my wife is watching one of her shows. It’s about doctors or lawyers. I don’t know why they can’t combine the two. BOSTON STAT! Or EMERGENCY GRAND JURY. Have some hip brittle  sarcastic overachieving doctors who are also lawyers. They stop the bleeding then run to the waiting room to take depositions. I’ll watch something later, I suppose. I rented Die Hard 4: Die So Fargin’ Hard The Worms Chip A Frickin’ Tooth or whatever it’s called. It feels like Friday, but it’s not – back to work tomorrow.

Now? A late-night turkey sandwich, downloading the pictures taken, assigning tags, uploading the Stagland update (a small one, alas) and then getting back to buzz.mn. Looks like I’ll be going to the mall tomorrow to report on the big shopping day.


Almost forgot: you know how kids today seem jaded by all the special effects on TV, the manic mannered jerky pace of indistinguishable cartoons, internet flash,  and all the other things that tweezer out some ancient human sense of wonder and replace it with studied indifference and an appetite for something else to fill the void? Yeah, that. Well, while cleaning the kitchen table a few hours before the meal I heard a great squabble outside; I opened the door, wondered if some kids up the block weren’t making silly sounds in the newly-fallen snow. The voices were coming from above; it took a few seconds to parse the babble and realize that these were geese. I’d never heard so many geese together at once. But where were they? The sky was empty. They’d passed already, I thought.

You never think of geese as having a gift for song; they honk, they squonk, they bleat and bark and shout out the same nasal, peevish, hectoring note. Unlovely. You hear it in the fall; you pause and stop raking. You look up and wish them well and feel the old melancholy pang. However many hours and minutes and seconds we invent to split up the year, there are only two strokes of the hands. The first robin and the last goose.

Well, they’re already gone. But why are they getting louder? Perhaps they’ve -

And then they appeared over the trees in numbers I’d never seen before, a great ragged V that ran a mile one way and a mile in the other, intersected in a dozen dozen points by smaller groups, with more wedges tucked in behind and between and beyond, and I’ll be damned if every one of them wasn’t singing. It was the most astonishing sound. As if their numbers finally added all the notes missing to complete the counterpoint. I called the children out to the stoop and pointed to the sky. Their jaws dropped and their eyes shone and they stood as still as stone until the last bird passed over Jasperwood and the sound of their song was lost to our ears. I will remember that all the days of my life.

Thank God I didn’t have the video camera. I would have seen it through the viewfinder screen, edited it later and probably set it to music.



New Book-buying Incentive: if it doesn't do well, I will have to give up the Bleat for a year to write something that will make money for (G)Nat's college fund.