Friday’s Weekend Column
The Feast of the Dancing Chickens

by James Glaser
July 8, 2005

People might think we are rather primitive up here or that we are "backwoods," but we do know how to have fun, commune with our neighbors, and eat well.

The Marble Clan down my road has our Fourth of July afternoon dinner every year, and they do a bang up job. Peggy and her brother John take "free range" chickens and cook them standing up on their outdoor grill and if people don't take a peek too often they are done in about a hour. If people are too curious, well then it might take as long as two.

While things are cooking, about 30 neighbors are either in the porch, out on the deck, or sitting in the living room talking about the winter, trapping, fishing, how the hay is growing, the latest carpenter project, and I hear tell that there is a little gossip about whoever didn't show up from last year.

Everyone brings their special dish, and so I brought a pie plate filled with my fresh made fudge. I didn't even get out of the yard before people walking down our road wanted some. They said, "You have a pie?" And I said no, that it was fudge and they said, "OH! Let me have a taste." It wasn't cut, so they had to get out their knife and cut a small triangle. When I got to the Marble's, they asked about the missing portion, and I told them it was for testing purposes.

When the dinner started, the dinning room table was filled with all sorts of summer time fair and treats too. Some people used red, white, and blue decorations around their serving dish and the calories almost jumped onto your plate. The strangest dish was a wild rice hotdish with a lime sauce, which doesn't sound that good, but it was great. I like German potato salad, and the one here was perfect. Brownies and pie, cookies and fudge, how much more American can you get than that?

After eating people hung around for hours talking, and we all had fun. I kept watching the children sneak in and grab some sort of treat and head outside. They were smart about it, they took turns so one child did not get noticed too often near the treats, but they disappeared in no time.

Toward evening the conversation got around to a drowning on the lake this week. Everyone was talking about safe boating practices, and the fact that if your boat capsizes, the best thing to do is climb up on it and wait for help. You might think you can make it to shore, but hypothermia can set in no matter how good of shape you are in, and when it does, you are done for. Plus if you are on the boat, you are easier to spot, while down in the water you are almost invisible if the waves are high.

The man who died was out fishing in high waves and rain, had no life preserver on, and was alone. When our lake or any lake gets rough, I am content to stay on shore. That day it was hard standing on my dock as the waves would shoot up a cold spray on me when I got out near the end.

I am planning an auction in August. I want my house to be bigger and rather than adding on, I am going to get rid of some of the stuff I have inside. You ever hear about the old guy with just trails through his house because he had so much stuff? Well, if I keep it up for another twenty years, I'll be that old guy. I think it would be visually nice to have some open space, heck at one time Charmaine and I could dance in here and I want to be able to do that again. Buying stuff is the fun part, after that, all you do is dust it.

I am real close to having the house totally finished and that might not sound like such a feat, until you remember that I was a carpenter, and carpenters never finish their houses. You come home from pounding nails all day and the last thing you want to do is start pounding them again. The same goes for cutting, sanding, and painting.

I have about a week to sort out what I am going to sell and what to keep and I think I can do that without holding on to too much. I want enough to live and work with and have a few things filled with memories, but the rest can go.

My tomatoes are starting to change from dark green to a lighter shade, and soon they will be yellow and then start to turn red. I can't wait. They are always a lot of work, but the reward of eating the Home Grown Tomato is worth every bit of work. Heck, they write songs about home grown tomatoes.

Summer is going fast, and so I do take a few minutes every day to sit and enjoy my life up here. Being by myself is kind of lonely, and I think about that a lot. I have enough work and projects to keep me busy, but when I am too tired to work or when I am filled with indecision, it would be nice to have someone else around. Plus I miss doing things for some one I love. That is what makes life worth while, being in love and sharing your time and effort with another. It will happen again, it'll just take some time.

BACK to the Essays.