19 degrees here on the hill this morning, a noticeable difference to yesterday's heavy rains and low forties temperatures. By 4:30 PM when folks were tossing back and forth in soft chairs fending off post dinner sleepiness, the temperature outside began to drop and as it did, Vermont Flower Farm and much of the east was enveloped in deepening fog. Right now fluffy snowflakes drift slowly to earth on a fairly clear morning. Deer hunters have been driving by for more than an hour now trying to get courage enough to park and advance into the woods for one of the last days of this year's rifle deer season. It will be cold and crunchy out there and the footing will be uneasy much of the way as a glaze has formed on the snow from last night's quick freeze.
Here in America, Thanksgiving and the week or two before represents one of the most well publicized food preparation times of the year. At our house there is such an abundance of different foods that sleep comes too easy in late afternoon. This year was marked by the first year in my memory that creamed onions and mince meat pie were absent from the table. I can't say why exactly but as eyes scanned over already heaping plates, the call went out as "Are the onions still in the kitchen?" which they weren't.
Alex as only Alex can do gave his run down of the fact that most of our food wasn't even present at the first Thanksgiving. He always has to tell about three foot long lobsters and other shellfish that the first folks really didn't care for and typically tossed to the pigs. After his run down of deer and ducks and guinea hens and root crops we usually try to get on with festivities and dig in.
Although the mince meat pie was absent this year, outside contributions included a beautiful pumpkin cheese cake and a pecan pie with an old fashioned crust recipe in which you add boiling water to the ingredients and roll quickly. I'm not so sure about my interest in returning to the land of lard and rolling pins but the pumpkin cheesecake is something that was special. Elizabeth from East Montpelier put this beauty together and the swirls of sweet pumpkin mix nicely with the cheese and crust contrast. I have already requested the recipe. It had to be good as Gail's mother, now well on route to age 91, asked for a second piece and then proceeded to scrape the flowers off the plate in hopes I guess of securing a third piece. Thanksgiving was quiet, peaceful, nice and we are thankful for all that we have.
On the gardening scene, Gail continues to prepare plant orders from her collection of wholesale catalogs and draw garden design pictures for new gardens at the new property. I am working away at five cords of logs, already blocked but needing to be split and stacked for winter 2008 and 2009. The job is progressing well and is more rewarding each time I look at the price of oil. In the minimal free time I have left, I am teaching myself Dreamweaver CS3 so I can finally do our less than stellar website over with cascading style sheets and pictures which boot large and clear for everyone. I have not become familiar enough with the new software to be able to predict when I'll approach the site or when it might be close to done but if someone knocked on the door right now and wanted to trade plants for web time, I guarantee a deal would be cut. I smile at each little accomplishment and love what new software can do but sometimes my mind seems to bunny hop over important directions and I have to read and reread before I can make things work correctly. Guess that's why there are gaggles of designers waiting for levels of frustration to convert to pleas of "Can you please help?"
As you work your way through pots and pans and dishes today, and as left overs work their way into smaller and smaller containers, reflect for a minute that despite talk of economic woes, the year has been fine and your gardens were a success. And as fall snows grow into winter snowdrifts, consider next year's gardens and consider the Plant A Row for the Hungry program. It was started in 1995 by the Garden Writers Association of America. Everyone in American didn't have the Thanksgiving you may have had.
This doesn't have to be a big endeavor, in fact it doesn't even have to be a full row of anything. Just consider growing something next year to give to a friend in need, a senior on a budget, a food shelf in your area. It's a difference you can make in the course of your regular gardening and you can feel really good about doing it.
Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where red and also white breasted nuthatches are this morning's frequent visitors.
The Vermont Gardener