The National Feast

On Thanksgiving morning I go out with my clippers and cut fat bunches of sage and thyme to decorate the turkey platter. It was a pleasure, when I moved here, to find that these stayed green all winter in Michigan, looking lovely along the walkway, covered with frost.

My turkey platter is a family heirloom, designed  with the traditional scene of the First Thanksgiving: pilgrims standing around looking hungry while Indians bring them corn, pumpkins, turkeys, and other local food. Every year when we go around the table and say what we’re thankful for, one thing that comes up, specifically, is that those first inhabitants met the newcomers with charity, fed them, and taught them how to get on in their new environment. We instinctively want to extend that welcome. It’s not possible to meet a foreign traveler in November, without feeling the urge to gather them into the dining room for the National Feast, and take satisfaction explaining to them the mysteries of cranberry sauce, stuffing, and pumpkin pie.

Thanksgiving is a very weird time for people to be complaining about immigrants and refugees. But it’s been a weird year.

The garden’s quiet in late November. The last bulbs are planted; the last of the expired flower stalks are in the compost bin; more perennials, chosen to provide variety – we might even say diversity – are tucked in with mulch. Monoculture in the garden breeds disease. A good metaphor. I can walk around the yard, at least, with an enormous sense of peace.

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