(A cat on the lap and all is well.)
Deep mist suffused everything today, blotted out any vision farther than a few hundred yards in any direction. Everything dripped — even the gold-finches at the feeder. Even the sole hummingbird sipping nectar. This is full-on autumn, with winter beginning to show its blue light at the horizon.
Yesterday, at a Thanksgiving table with sixteen others, I listened to the waves of conversation alternately ripple up to a passionate roar, then trickle down to near silence. Someone suggested we name our favorite movies, and a title would be announced, with the ensuing discussion and good-natured arguments: again the tide of voices cresting, then easing off. In such a crowd, it was easy to slip into silence unnoticed, easy to be the observer.
But of course, I had my dramatic moments, as when I wrestled (so to speak) the crow/cat/fir-cone story away from my son. (It was my story.) With a few emptied wine glasses trailing behind me, I performed (I think) a fairly good impression of my very large cat pressed up against the glass panel of my front door in his attempt to escape being lobbed-at by a cone-pitching crow.
When it was time for dessert, seven pies were laid out down the center of the table along with a VERY LARGE bowl of whipped cream: one cranberry-apple, two sweet potato, two pecan, one pumpkin and one pumpkin with a pecan streusel. Be still my pie heart!
I lapsed into silence again.
I slipped into my invisible dessert bubble so that I could eat pie undistracted.
This was yet a new version of family, a rearrangement of old friends and new, of friends that I consider family, of sons, and friends of friends. It was as if someone took a good portion of the people I've known/met during the past 26 years, put them in a bag, and shook out sixteen of them to sit together for Thanksgiving dinner. I was delighted to be among the invited.
In the middle of it all (and sitting at a middle seat at that long table), I was reminded of something that my late mother-in-law used to say:
"You reach a certain age, you get to choose your own family."
She was right.
But the really lucky part, for me, is that my "family" is a big one: blood, near-blood, not-blood, near, not-near, breathing, passed-on.
And then there are all of you.
You know who you are.
Shall we have pie?