Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A SOUTHERN THANKSGIVING

I am a Southerner and with that distinction comes a plethora of tradition. At least a month before Thanksgiving my children start calling their cousins and all start planning our annual pilgrimage to the farm. I think we are expecting around thirty-five this year, ranging from seven years of age to seventy-one at last count. By the way, that is twenty-five children to ten adults. throw in the twelve dogs that come with, that’s a pretty big crowd by anyone’s standards. The weekend always involves food, of course,and lots of it... it is Thanksgiving after all. The key words here are calories and cholesterol, just remember those two words as they are the benchmark for all that follows!

Every day begins with a very hearty breakfast Southern style. We have scrambled eggs, homemade biscuits, bacon (which used to be cooked in the oven in lard!), sausage, fried green tomatoes, baked apples and grits. Keep in mind you need the sustenance because your day started at five a.m. in the duck swamp, chest-deep in frigid water- or in a green field waiting for that elusive buck. So by the time you get back in for breakfast, you have worked up quite the appetite. All those calories burned just trying to stay warm or simply the effort of donning all that necessary gear! After the high caloric and cholesterol infusion at the breakfast table, one may choose any one of the following activities: a quiet quail hunt on horseback, some large-mouth bass fishing, or a long walk down the dirt roads. Maybe you choose a boar hunt or a raucous game of cards or Scrabble by the fire.

We all then reconvene for lunch, again think calories and cholesterol! Now lunch is usually fried, fried and fried! Fried fish with hushpuppies, throw in some cold slaw…(think Dukes mayonnaise). BBQ and some French fries, again lots of sauce and a frying pan involved. Gulp all that down with some sweet tea and finish with a big slice of carrot cake.

The time spent at the communal table equates to hours out of the day. There is much time spent planning for the next activity, talking about the next activity, rehashing the last activity, and then changing of minds about the pending activity. There is copious conversation and lots to catch up on since the last family gathering….tall tales, good jokes and memories of holidays past.

After lunch, the afternoon choices are much the same as that morning’s. Then as the hunters begin to trickle in just after the sun sets, the bourbon and branch comes out and more story telling ensues. The telling of the tales gets much bigger and taller with every cocktail consumed. That fish goes from four to eight pounds, that buck was a monster fifteen point over at Williams Lake! Then after several libations, coupled with an absolute must have south of the Mason Dixon line, the cheese straw…we are all called to dinner.

Thanksgiving dinner comes with all the comforting, familiar trappings; the turkey, cornbread dressing, brussel sprouts, collard greens, sweet potatoes and pecan pies. The weekend is always full of memorable meals. My personal favorite, however, is the wild duck dinner! I have tried for years to duplicate that recipe to no avail. I have watched the preparation again and again, and yet still am unable to make it work four hours north of that farm! Maybe it’s just the fresh air, and really, truth be told, there are no recipes, just decades of experience. All I know is that the duck falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. Combined with the baked apricots (layered with brown, sugar, butter and Ritz crackers) the combination is a gift from God! We all leave the weekend maybe a few pounds heavier, but always a lot happier for having been there.

It’s a simple place, a beautiful place….where time stands still. Families come together and we give thanks for all our many blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!




Katie Walker


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Katie Walker


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Keith Summerour

2 comments:

  1. I'm a bit late, I know, but hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Lovely selection of pics, Beth!

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    ReplyDelete