My wish is that you are beginning the New Year as I am; full of hope and optimism even as we slog through the season of economic blizzard.
Here at our little old farm house in Santa Barbara, we enjoyed a Christmas turkey dinner with my whole family - maybe for the last time. My mother and brothers, our wives and all of the cousins were here. My nephew Robert announced that he and his wife Mika are expecting a baby. The first child of the next generation is coming this year.
The turkey was a big, beautiful free-range bird and we enjoyed sharing it at the kitchen table. It was full of natural flavor (not injected with salt and butter flavoring) and the meat had real color. The next day I trimmed it up and put the rest into the boiler. I made soup stock and cleaned the meat off the carcass. As I was processing I set aside the wishbone. Susan and I used her Christmas present to make egg noodles for the soup and we ground up some of the turkey meat for sandwich spread. We made multiple meals from that bird with very little waste. That made us feel particularly wise and virtuous. (It doesn't take much.).
On New Years day, Susan and I sat at the kitchen table and planned a major new project for the farm. We're going to grow enough organic feed to support our own flock of organic chickens. We will finally be putting one of our front fields into production after years of experimenting with plowing, cover cropping and weed control. We're ready to expand the farm into grain and poultry this year.
The wishbone. The decorated tree. The old customs and superstitions flow from ancient roots that sprout green hopes in this season. We have a New Year tradition that Susan brought from Wisconsin. We eat a bit of pickled herring on New Years Eve to ensure good fortune in the coming year. It is a fragment perhaps of some old norse tradition this wish with fish that somehow arrived in the upper mid-west and is now grafted onto our family tree.
What a year this will be.
We will be moving to Prince Edward Island. We are preparing to launch our oldest son into University. Susan is retiring. We are taking up farming for a living. We'll be welcoming the new generation. Perhaps you'll forgive us if we reach out to reassure ourselves with a few of the old and warn talismans and touch-stones of good fortune.
Pass the pickled herring. Pull the wishbone Cross your fingers and say a prayer for us.
What a year this is going to be!
(Pictures: Christmas tree in the foreground with a blood orange tree outside the window - already decorated with its own ornaments and "The Cousins".)