Saturday, November 28, 2009

A brief thanksgiving

There was a time I could walk beneath my grandmother's table without bending my head, and peer out through the flowery white design of the lace tablecloth, scarcely breathing, trying not to be noticed, to watch the doings of the grown ups in the room as we gathered for Thanksgiving, long, long ago.

The legs of that table were dark wood, curved and carved, and ending in paws that my mother told me were lion paws.

They were very pretty.

I remember, after years away, how surprised I was that I stood far above that table. Had I ever been so small? I still tried to keep quiet, to listen to the grown up conversations, to try to understand that confusing world. But I'd get tired and soon be off to the walnut tree with a book, cozily leaning against the trunk, high above the ground, getting my best dress stained with walnut husk.

This time of year the oddest memories come back. I remembered my grandmother's table as I looked down the mountains from my eldest son's house, where my family had gathered for our thanksgiving. I was boiling potatoes and stirring sauce and cutting up the beautiful golden mushrooms my daughter and her partner had gathered in the woods with me the day before--chanterelles, the most luscious of mushrooms. My grandmother wouldn't have recognized much that I put out on the table--my vegetarian feast might have confused her. I can imagine my father laughing with disbelief.
Well, we did have sweet potatoes, and mashed potatoes, and chanterelles in a light sauce. And cranberries, and stuffing, and a tofu-turkey. My eldest son's best friend laughed at that, and I laughed at his laughter.

It is longer than 30 years since those two boys met. They were rowdy and rough and tumbled all over the cabin and the land like young bear cubs. I had known A., son's friend, since his birth. Since before his birth, when his mother wondered if he'd ever be born and I told her he'd wait to be born close to my birthday, late September.

He was, showing himself to be a very intelligent person. My son was born the following year, and they might as well have been brothers. So it was good to have them both, though when A. said "now, we really must do as the matriarch bids us"....well, you know, it's a bit strange. It was yesterday I was walking beneath that table.

And my daughter's partner and I had a long talk. Now there's a lovely soul. Just the day before, when the police brought us another lost soul, he had helped me transport her--54 years old, heart trouble, head trouble, homeless, distressed and surly and difficult and very pretty--to a safe place in the north. And refused my thanks--it was, he said, nothing at all. So we talked about my youngest son, Gabe, who had asked the day before which one of him was going to be at Thanksgiving. Interesting question; whichever one had come was having a great time. But E. and I talked, and how odd to think this young man had such instinctive insight into the mind of my sometimes mysterious youngest.

My daughter seasoned things deftly, my eldest made sure I had sufficient coffee, the day was bright and we were all silly and sweet and ridiculous and alive and together.

And so glad of this.

(the photo, taken by my eldest, is some of the view from his home)


Blogger Should Fish More said...

Enjoyed your posts, thanks for visiting my blog. I lived in NorCal decades ago when I was in grad school, and remember thinking it was the most bucolic place I'd ever seen. As a native Oregonion I'd shunned anything California, but the weather, wine, etc. turned me around.

10:18 AM, November 29, 2009  
Blogger coyote said...

Thanks for sharing your thanksgiving. I like that part of the view. Not dissimilar from the British Columbia interior, which I have been far too far away from, far too long...

4:37 AM, November 30, 2009  

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