Thankful for many things this thanksgiving by Charlie Hodge

HodgePodge By Charlie Hodge

I can hardly move, still. In fact I continue to add to the water-buffalo-in-mud imitation as I write this – typing right handed while voraciously attacking a humungous turkey sandwich held in the left hand.

Who said I’m not ambidextrous?

I’m now entering day three of turkey fest and until the mound of stuffing is reduced to a reasonable guilt-acceptable summit of discard I shall soldier on in my delectable devouring.

I cooked an awesome turkey Sunday and perhaps crafted my best personal stuffing ever.

I gotta give that one to Dad. He was the turkey stuffing master of Trout Creek, Summerland and I still recall with fondness draping myself over the kitchen chair watching Dad mumble and mutter methodically as he prepared Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners. He had a ragged, discoloured, mangled piece of paper which I gather was his go-to recipe and followed it religiously every holiday meal. It was tradition. Dad did nothing most of the year in the kitchen but come turkey time he took over.

Flash forward. I have no ragged piece of paper. I stuff through osmosis.

Regardless of how I get there it seems to work every year. (I still maintain the trick is mixing in some fresh chopped cranberries and zest lemon peel into the dressing).

It’s interesting how we inherit or maintain habits from our parents or adult influences of childhood. I’m big on traditions and protocols and there’s no question that comes from Dad and Grandpa.

Dad was not only a creature of habit, he definitely danced in the darkness of obsessive compulsive on occasion. Once again, regardless, Dad loved routine and respect.

It’s fairly obvious to any keen observer that such is the case with moi. As free spirited as I am (which drove Dad nuts) I find comfort in a controlled, calculated chaos. I like a pattern or routine to my day. I need some structure to feel secure – yet rebel when feeling there is an attempt control me. Confused, Catch-22 character I suppose.

It’s protocol and tradition that inspires my love for events such as Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Dad was a Kelowna City Councillor as well and loved the protocol. Grandpa was a Mason which I believe is where my fascination began with that wonderful brotherhood.

It was Grandpa’s tradition for harvesting the garden every thanksgiving that’s influenced me most over the years. As a waif knee high to a pumpkin I remember faithfully following grandpa around his garden, locked into every action he made or word he spoke. He’d patiently explain how to know when a fruit or vegetable was ready to pick, or how it needed support or curing or…Then he’d show me the right way to harvest it, whether to hang it, wash it, store it in the dark, or blanche it. It was the routine of harvesting our work that I loved the most. The gathering in of what we sent out months before.

I’ve harvested all my gardens starting at thanksgiving weekend, constantly marveling at the bounty of food compiled for dinner that was produced in our own yard.

Admittedly this year has been a significant let down or disappointment at the Hodge House as productivity has proven thin.

In fact it sucks.

My manna has been mauled and massacred by Mother Nature this season. The harvest is perhaps 15 percent of what I planted which is not only a kick to the pride but also the pocket book and the food supply.

My excuse is a combination of the weeks of insane heat wave followed by smoky air and drought – none of which my emphysema handled well. On top of that however it was the critters that reaped most damage.

My corn, squash, cucumber, melons of all sorts and styles, green peppers, and a host of other vegetables have been literally devoured by invasive squirrels, voles, mice, and birds. Sadly I have a lazy cat that refuses to chase the parade of foreign squirrels. She has no issue going over to the neighbouring restaurant garbage bins and waiting  for hours to snag a rat – but when a slow, much stupider squirrel walks right in front of her – good ole Scaredy just yawns, stretches out on the lawn and rolls over.

Between my neighbour who continues to feed the damn squirrels and my lazy fat cat I have lost a plethora of food, time and money. Wish I could teach my cat a little bit about garden protection via tradition and protocol.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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