Monday, November 29, 2010

A Cowboy Country Thanksgiving

"The Eternal has brought you into a good land, a land
with streams and springs that issue forth from valleys
and mountains. . . A land where you will eat bread
without scarcity, where you shall lack nothing;
a land whose stones are iron, and out whose hills
you may dig gold and silver . . . And you shall eat and drink
and bless the Eternal your G-d for the good land..."
--Devarim 8:8-10

We don't think Moses was talking about this land when he told our ancestors that they had been freed from Egypt to work a land flowing with milk and honey, and where their flocks and children and gold and silver would increase by their own hands. But when we traveled to Cowboy Country, and sat down to Thanksgiving dinner on our own ranch, we certainly understood how they felt.

The morning of Thanksgiving brought snowfall, and the Rasta Jew looked out and said, "This is the best Thanksgiving ever!" as he laid a fire in the stone fireplace.

The cabin smelled of the slow roasted turkey, and not having a double oven, of the pies baked the day before. We felt warm, and with a full larder, we felt blessed. The hard work of the spring and summer, finding and buying the ranch, and the fall's labor of beginning to prepare it for our future work, was laid aside for a day, so that we could celebrate that quintessetial American holiday celebrating the fruits of our productive work.

In the late morning, the sky cleared and our customary walk before the feast was spent walking the boundary fences, repaired the day before. The Engineering Geek found the repairs he and the Rasta Jew had made to be sound. The fences must be walked each week this season, as the elk are about, and walk over and through barbed wire as if it did not exist. We walked together, the Engineering Geek and I, talking of the future, while the Rasta Jew held down the fort and played with the dogs.

Returning from a few hours of wind, snow and sunshine, we found a fire had been laid anew, and the Rasta Jew provided us with some music to cook by while we made the gravy and the mashed potatoes, and laid the table for the Thanksgiving feast.

I had brought with us my crystal wedding bowl for the cranberry sauce, my harvest tablecloth, wine glasses and special Thanksgiving tchotkes to make the festive table. The slow-roasted, free-range turkey made the best centerpiece.

The prepared table, minutes before we sat down, a congregation of the three of us, ready to eat and be satisfied, and bless the Eternal for bringing us into this new land of ours, a land that by the work of our hands will become even more productive and beautiful.
Before we said the blessing over the bread, we told the story of the Mayflower Compact, the Plymouth Plantation, and the lesson learned anew of the tragedy of corn collectivism American-style. We ended that lesson with a singing of America the Beautiful: "Oh, Beautiful for Pilgrim's feet whose stern impassioned stress, a thoroughfare for Freedom beat across the wilderness . ."

Any occasion upon which there is singing, blessing and candles bring forth the canine members of the household, because they have come to expect a share of the challah, the bread over which the blessing is said at the beginning of the meal. This night, they had to make do with crescent rolls and turkey, which pleased them as well, and attention all around.

At the ranch, even Lily does well, and Shayna is ranging further and further from the porch. With an invisible fence that covers a good acre of territory, they all get plenty of running space and many interesting places to sniff and explore. Another item on the Thankful List--the ranch has saved Lily's life. A day of ranging through meadow and trees, and she's tired and content. The hierarchy has gotten settled, and the dogs are getting along.

Unlike that of the Pilgrims, our Thanksgiving ends with the Blessing for Food (after eating), as we have been told: "You shall eat and be satisfied and then bless the Eternal . . ." Then dishes, and then relaxing around the fire, talking about the days to come, and enjoying each other--just the three six of us--celebrating Thanksgiving in Cowboy Country.


Brianna said...

I was wondering what had happened to Lily, but did not want to pry. I am glad you were able to avert a difficult decision. Happy Thanksgiving :-D

Chuck said...

Nice! Would have liked to been there, but since I'm such a turkey, I would probably seen myself roasted.

Are you there permanently or do you travel here "once in a while."

I've not heard of this family, but just wanted to let you guys know we hope to see you again. If you think the song to hoakey, just dump it.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Hi, Chuck,

Right now we travel there every other weekend and then the week during Thanksgiving. We will be there more or less permanently in January, but as we still have our house up here, we will be back here now and then . . .