Thanksgiving week stirs memories of outdoors

Posted Nov. 17, 2008, at 9 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 3:28 a.m.

I was never much of an outdoorsman.

Having said that, I do retain many family memories of the upcoming Thanksgiving week.

Like most boys in a Maine family, I was, however, taught the rudimentary procedures of hunting and fishing at an early age. Like most kids, it was bestowed upon me as a rite of passage.

I have many fond memories of fishing excursions, which often ended by an open fire with storytelling often abounding into the wee hours of the morning. I’d spend the night in my little pup tent, listening to the waves.

Much to my dear mother’s chagrin, the tall tales were often a bit ripe for a lad of 9 or 10. And like most mothers, she rolled with the punches until I repeated one of those raucous tales, usually resulting in a reprimand for me and a dirty look or two for my father.

I have one Thanksgiving memory of an early morning jaunt into the woods with my father and his brothers Roscoe and Glenn. Roscoe had bagged a nice buck the week before the holiday.

I especially remember the early darkness of being awakened and the smell of coffee and cigarettes around the kitchen table at my grandmother’s house in Scarborough.

Back in the day when both of my grandmothers were living, my family rotated the holiday fare from Scarborough and Houlton year-to-year.

That particular day was my father’s mother’s turn to host the thing. And what an extravaganza it was.

What I remember most about all those holidays in the southern part of the state was waiting for the men to come back from the hunt and, of course, the gigantic meal.

The year I accompanied the hunters was a special year because instead of waiting for the hunters’ return, I was out there dressed in a big red wool shirt, an orange vest, and my green packs and wool pants — remember those rubber boots — to stay warm.

I have to admit that I never acquired the skills necessary to become a good hunter. It was the atmosphere of the whole event that drew me in.

Oddly, it was during my early years in 1951 that Maine begun to allow archery or bow hunting during October. In 1967, hunters were required to wear fluorescent orange during all hunting seasons. I, too, remember that change.

Because of my uncles’ penchant for outdoor activities, I did develop a curiosity for the so-called wilds. When we lived in Winterport, I would make my way toward the Penobscot River and huddle in the tall grass where the deer hung out in the off-season.

The unique smell of the white-tail is still fresh in my mind, and I grew up huddling in the spots they frequented along the shores.

The one day I accompanied those three rugged men always brings back a special memory of the upcoming holiday, for it was the only one that my grandmother’s turkey and fixings were accompanied by venison.

My father, a former meat cutter, helped prepare the food, and although I have not partaken of a lot of wild game, I will always remember that feast.

Each year, this is always the time to pause and give thanks for all that we have. The years go by so quickly, and many of the annual participants are gone.

Yet the memories and all the sights and the sounds still remain.

And that one Thanksgiving when I did more than wait for the hunters to return will always be a special one.

30-Second Time Out

Most observers would view the Duke University women’s 98-31 drubbing of the UMaine basketball team as predictable. From where I sit, Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie ran the score up, staying true to form — as she always has — when it comes to playing a weaker opponent.

Not buying this theory, are you?

Here’s my take.

This is a statement, and it goes like this: This is where I am now, and this is where you are now – without me.

Although an opinion and obviously not a direct quote, this is my summation of how the Duke coach might feel. Sorry, I was never a big fan.

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