Thanksgiving reinforces long-held values such as overeating and obsessing over football. I had a lovely Thanksgiving. The turkey wasn't the only thing stuffed. My piehole was stuffed, too.

Thanksgiving is when we're thankful for things we should be thankful for all year. I'm thankful I missed those buy or die sales on Black Friday. Christmas sales trample thankfulness.

Long before Thanksgiving, I heard Christmas songs playing in stores and airports. Sadly, there is a dearth of Thanksgiving tunes. I think of "Simple Gifts" as my Thanksgiving song. "'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free. 'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be. And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 'Twill be in the valley of love and delight."

I asked a friend what his favorite Thanksgiving song was. He said it was by Adam Sandler and goes like this, "Turkey for me. Turkey for you. Let's eat the turkey in my big brown shoe. Love to eat the turkey at the table. I once saw a movie with Betty Grable. Eat that turkey all night long. Fifty million Elvis fans can't be wrong. Turkey lurkey doo and turkey lurkey dap. I eat that turkey, then I take a nap."

Mike Twohy did a cartoon for The New Yorker of a man telling his family, "The takeaway tonight is 'Thanks.'"

Adam Sandler sang only one song about Thanksgiving. That's something to thank about.

The natural way

It was examining roadkill - an opossum that was no longer playing opossum. Opossums are nature's speed bumps. Wild eyes looked in my direction. The animal ran off to places only coyotes know.

I saw evidence of raccoon activity. A bird feeder had been demolished. As long as the temperatures of most days remain above 27 degrees, raccoons are active. Once the weather turns too cold for them, they sleep in sheltered dens such as those found in hollow trees. They might stay there until January or February.

I spotted a deer. The rutting season for the white-tailed deer peaks during the last two weeks of November.

In the company of eagles

I never tire of the company of eagles. I visit Haines, Alaska, each year and hang out with bald eagles.

How important is our national bird? We carry it in our pockets - on quarters, half dollars and dollar bills.

Once upon a time in Alaska, the bald eagle was a bird that some folks enjoyed seeing only on money. Until 1953, Alaska had a bounty on eagles. Bald eagles nest on the Aleutians Islands. Due to the absence of trees on those volcanic islands, the eagles nest on cliffs, pinnacles and the ground.

Fox farms were once abundant in Alaska. In 1930, there were more than 600 registered fur farms and many unregistered ones. The farms were mostly on remote islands, where foxes were free-roaming fur-bearers. Most farms went out of business during World War II because of the popularity of synthetics.


Jim Heaton told me that there was a fellow in Haines who walked around town feeding bread to the northwestern crows there.

Jim said that one day, a young couple visiting Haines bought a loaf of bread at a grocery store. As the pair walked down the street with their loaf of bread, they were made uncomfortable by a large following of crows. The birds didn't follow as far as a crow flies, but it was close.

I saw ravens gathering outside the McDonald's in Juneau. Some people call them cravens, saving the time needed to learn the difference between crows and ravens.

Echoes from the Loafers' Club Meeting

"An alligator bit off my nephew's finger."

"Which one?"

" How should I know? All alligators look alike to me."

Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors - both named Bruce - who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: if at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

I've learned

1. The Big Ten Conference has 14 teams. It's no wonder some of their athletes have problems with math.

2. Hearsay is something that a child hears and repeats.

3. The last two Angel players to receive Major League Baseball's Rookie of the Year award are Mike Trout and Tim Salmon. There's something fishy about that.

The news from Hartland

Tank Heaven for Little Grills is your propane filling station.

Fish and Cheeps Pet Shop admits installing pet doors in aquariums was a mistake.

Bigfoot spotted stomping grapes.

No one is average

I serve on a board with a man who winters in Auburn, Ala., and summers in Haines, Alaska. That means, on average, he lives in Weyburn, Saskatchewan.

Winter woes

Cheryl McRoberts is director of operations for the American Bald Eagle Foundation located in Haines, Alaska. Last winter, 30 feet of snow fell at the Foundation's headquarters - 11 feet in November. One morning, Cheryl came to work to find the doors completely covered by snow. She couldn't get into her office.

Her husband Bill said, "Well, let's get busy. Where are the shovels?"

The shovels were safe and sound inside the building.

Gunned down by a grapefruit

I was in Weslaco, Texas. It didn't take long to drive there. There is an unwritten law in Texas that says you must pass the car ahead of you. I was hunting the perfect grapefruit - sweet and juicy. I found one. I attacked it with a spoon. The grapefruit squirted me in the eye. The hunter had become the hunted.


I met Edgar Mitchell recently. He was an astronaut and the sixth man to walk on the moon. My parents thought I'd become an astronaut because my teachers told them that I was just taking up space in class. A day lasts approximately 708 hours on the moon. I should move my office there. I might be able to catch up on my work. Edgar Mitchell walked on the moon. That saves him a lot of money. Once you've done that, there's no point in going on an amusement park ride.

Mink ear flaps

Terry Jacobson of Haines, Alaska, made a coonskin cap. The raccoon wasn't large enough to allow for earflaps. A mink helped itself to some of Terry's Rhode Island Red hens. Terry shot the mink in the chickens' memory. Now Terry has a coonskin cap with mink ear flaps.

Nature notes

The downy woodpecker is found in all states but Hawaii.

It's believed that apples originated in Asia and were first cultivated in the Tien Shan Mountains of eastern Kazakhstan. The Seed Savers Exchange near Decorah, Iowa, grows about 700 varieties of apple trees.

Meeting adjourned

Be kind and thank the people who have made a difference in your life.

Thanks for stopping by

"The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny." - Albert Ellis

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." - Melody Beattie


©Al Batt 2012