Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cabin Life: The Thanksgiving Bet

It’s Thanksgiving week, and there’s no snow on the ground.  There’ve been some heavy frosts, and I’ve had to scrape my windshield most days in the last week.  Right now there’s a heavy frost covering the apple trees and the sun is coming up over Whiteface.  I really wish my camera battery was charged.

When I was growing up, I had a running bet with my grandfather that there would be snow on the ground Thanksgiving morning.  We always hosted dinner, sometimes with more than twenty people, but Grandpa would always walk in and give me five bucks and not say anything to me.  I would grin and pocket the money, happy in my ability to predict the weather.  Of course, most years, there was already snow on the ground before Thanksgiving, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that I had a pretty good streak of winning that bet.

And then one year when I was ten or eleven or twelve, I woke up Turkey Day morning to the sight of no snow.  I had what should be described as a very easy childhood, and I assumed that Grandpa would ask for his money, but not really demand it.  I did not know Grandpa as well as I thought.

He came walking in the side door of our house in Gloversville.  There were a few steps to walk up into the kitchen, and when he crested the third step and saw me, and I learned the phrase “sh*t-eating grin.”  It was a clear lesson.  He was getting his five bucks and he was going to enjoy every single second of it.

Grandpa was, by any definition, “old school.”  He had a large leather recliner, everyone else got the couch or the floor or a folding chair.  And it was his remote.  His and his alone.  We stayed at the dinner table until plates were clean.  There was absolutely no wrasslin’ in the house.  But he was gruff in a way that told you how much he cared about you.  Just don’t tick him off.

As I grew up, and even after he passed away, I got to know Grandpa better.  He would have liked that I was living out here.  There’s no way he would do it, but I’m sure that he would have some stories and old woods tricks to share to help me along.  I remember the way he smiled, and his eyes would get all squinty.  It’s a trait that I inherited, and when I smile I usually think about him, which just makes me smile more.

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Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.

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2 Responses

  1. T.Barber says:

    Nice thought about your grandfather, Justin!! Write more articles like this one! Happy Holidays!!

  2. Mike Chevier says:

    I remember that same grin on my own fathers face the day I had four women supervising my hanging a picture and him standing behind them with that shi++ eating grin on his face. Not sayin a word as I was givien instructions on the placement of that picture. A mental picture in my head I will always treasure.

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