whistlestop caboose

The view from the back.

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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

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Tulips 2006 for Gran ellengwallace's Tulips 2006 for Gran photoset

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Pilgrim's corn

The American pilgrim was my forefather, I learned in school. This meant he was my grandfather. Not Grandpa Lonergan, because he was the one who let us walk down to the Rexall Drug Store he owned and put our hands in the hot nut machine that slowly went round, and pull out a fistful of warm cashews. So it had to be the other one, the one we didn't see often. Grandpa Wallace, with his astonishing blue eyes and long rectangular face, wore black shoes with square toes and silver buckles. He had a long stick of a gun into which he put powder. I trailed behind him as he waded into the field of tall, tall corn, the stalks crisp and the wind ruffling the soft white threads that surprised one at the tip of the ears. Grandpa's hair was white and silky and shifted in the breeze, just as the corn's did. We were after something: the word "stalk" meant to hunt among the corn rows. There it was - bang! The smell of powder, the turkey brought to the ground, and on the way home a few ears of corn that I would husk. There was tiny Grandma, her curls tight on her head, in a long black dress with cinched waist and perfect pleats, churning the butter we would melt and pour over the cobs.

This, then, was Thanksgiving dinner at our house, during my childhood: a feast of thanks for the bounty on our doorstep, American history and fine food. My mother once tried, with the force of adult logic, to convince me that a Scottish grandfather in Iowa in the 20th century would not have dressed as a pilgrim or used a shotgun to bring in the turkey, nor did Grandma ever churn butter. I knew better. I was there.

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