I wake up at 6 a.m.
"Old Tom" has been thawed since yesterday evening and for once I won't have to put him the bathtub at the last second. I only need to brave the giblet packs, wash him, season him and wake up Ye Old Matey to put him on our new rotisserie.
I gather together the ingredients for my corn pudding only to realize that all the sugar has gone. The last of it must have gone into the baked beans. I'm dreading a trek to Kroger and before I head for my jacket I look out the kitchen window into the backyards of the houses on the street behind us.
Every kitchen light is on.
I grab a clean Country Crock container, slip on a jacket over my pajamas and head out into the frosty dawn. A squirrel runs past and stops short when he sees me. Squirrels that have lived in our neighborhood for any length of time have long lost their fear of humans and cars, more's the pity. We brake for them like we would for children, honking impatiently when they get in our way and even adults wave at them, just like I did this morning.
What is this need in humans to gain animal trust?
I'm surprised by the brief flick of his tail before he runs off and I take this to be his greeting.
I tap on my neighbor's door. There is no need for my reticence. She has been up for two hours; her husband sits in the living room reading the Thanksgiving morning paper.
Happy Thanksgiving, we say. She notes my bowl. Flour or sugar? she asks kindly.
Sugar, just half a cup.
We laugh over how rare this age old ritual has become. Neighbor helping neighbor, a cup of sugar, an egg or two. We chat for a while but the work must go on. Her children are coming. I'm expecting company. It's early but we both know that it will only be moments before Old Tom will be done and the friends and family will arrive.
As I tiptoe back across the quiet street to my sleepy home stuffed with family, food and love, the squirrel comes back. I wave at him and this time I am sure his tail waves back.
It just doesn't get much better than this.