It was a quiet Thanksgiving morning. I’m accustomed to hard-working Thanksgivings, getting up early to prepare the turkey and then standing on my legs hour after hour in the kitchen. Yesterday, in pajamas, I sat down in the living room chair, cup of coffee nearby, and read a book. Wow! Now that’s what I call a holiday!
In the early afternoon we stood on line at Stone Soup Café getting our take-home meal. Aussie worried about the turkey.
“Why didn’t you order two meals instead of one?”
“There’ll be enough turkey for the two of us, Auss.”
“I don’t want no ethnic holiday, okay? No tacos for Thanksgiving.”
“I don’t think tacos are on the menu, Aussie.”
“No Japanese noodles or anything Korean.”
“Aussie, people celebrate Thanksgiving in their way with their own cuisine. Japanese people like Japanese food, Italians like Italian, Middle-Easterners—”
“Don’t even think of giving me hummus for Thanksgiving. Who are these people? Why can’t they get with the program?”
“Because there is no program, Aussie, that’s the cool thing about this country. There is no dominant culture here, see?”
“Anybody who messes around with turkey on Thanksgiving should go to China or Russia, see if they like it better there.”
“Not everybody likes turkey, Aussie. Some prefer roast chicken, some make a lasagna.”
“I can live with lasagna long as it ain’t spinach.”
This morning I put orange vests on both Aussie and me. Deer shooting season starts now and we’ll have to be careful till the end of the year. We went to the Montague Farm, from which we enter the woods. The Zen Peacemakers once owned this property. Once we left it became a wedding banquet facility, and now I found out that it’s being sold again. While Aussie looked up the road towards the woods, I talked to the current caretaker.
“Do you think the new owners will let me continue to walk in the woods above the farm?” I asked.
“Of course,” he said. “I told the new owners that you’re the steward of the woods, the only one who really walks there aside from the hunters now. They won’t say anything.”
But I wonder. I’m hearing about big plans: taking down the 18th century farmhouse which isn’t up to code, building some small cabins instead, enlarging the teacher’s cabin, lots and lots of ideas. I wish them luck, but after 18 years I have a sense of this land. It’s stubborn and seems to know its own mind. I’ve seen lots of grand plans falter here, including the Zen Peacemakers’, because the land didn’t cooperate. It was too wet to sustain homes, too many deep tree roots through which to build pipes, protected wetlands at bottom inhospitable to habitation, etc.
The land lets you know how much you can do, and if you’re smart you listen.
I’ve already met the new owners and will soon ask them explicitly for permission to enter the woods from the Farm. There’s no reason for them not to give it, I won’t be in anyone’s way. Still, after walking here for 18 years with two generations of dogs, the land may decide it’s enough. The person may say the words, but inside I believe it’ll be the land talking.