Home Lessons Thanksgiving 2020: Gratitude Is on the Menu

Thanksgiving 2020: Gratitude Is on the Menu

Thanksgiving 2020: Gratitude Is on the Menu

Darkness surrounds me right now, but I know light will prevail if I just wait patiently. My rooster Rufus reminds me of this notion, along with the solo song of wheels to wet pavement a country lane away. Buddy concurs with each snore, grumble and snort; just be patient.

Buddy the bulldog reads
Buddy taking a break from his book club…

I’m at my kitchen table (aka Tall Clover Farm World Headquarters) and I’m thinking about the last nine months and the ups and the downs that riddle my days, and I try to resolve what this pandemic has taught me. For one thing, it’s slapped me across the face like a gangster’s moll in a bad B movie, awakening me to the fact that I’m a very social person. (Insert, “Duh” here.) My friends, laugh over my reluctance to admit what everybody else already knows; I’m a talker and a listener, a hugger and a storyteller and a man who is by no means an island. I live out loud. (You get the picture).

Aptly-named Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin destined for today’s dessert.
Pie preferences run deep; for some it’s pumpkin, others pecan, or my favorite, both. I was shocked to learn of a vocal splinter group: those who like neither. 😉

If I didn’t have contact with Buddy and enjoy a few masking-wearing moments of chitchat, I think I would be rocking in the fetal position on my front porch. At times, even Buddy seems bored with me, gazing upward with a face that seems to say, “Do you ever stop talking? Oh yeah, and when’s dinner?” His coat is like a finely woven cashmere sweater because I brush him daily (heck, make that hourly), and check in often to make sure his every need is met. He knows I am assuredly his man servant. Well, not much change there, I suppose.

Forelle pears: delicious autumn harvest and beauty

These last few months, I have never been more thankful for what is now absent in my life: family, friends, connections, simple hellos, handshakes, and hugs. I have enjoyed a life of plenty, a life of love, a life of kindness, a life of learning, and a life of being embraced by the beauty and generosity of this world and its citizens. I have it good, and it took the isolation dictated by a pandemic to correct my vision about just how truly fortunate I am. I knew, for the most part, but now I really, really, really know.

So on this Thanksgiving Day I wish you all the best this life has to offer from beloved family and friends to the hugs, to the smiles, to the shared dinners that feed us in every conceivable way. We will get through this, and we will celebrate with the effervescence of popped Champagne. And for that day, I just can’t wait, but I must. And for that I’m most grateful, for my view of life will never be the same.

Apparently, I’m in Buddy’s spot…

Stay safe, stay mighty, act in love, inspire kindness, call your mom, be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Finding light among the shadows…


  1. Thank you Tom, just what I needed to hear today. Life alone can be lonely especially when your a people person.
    I hope your mom is doing well, it’s been awhile since you spoken of her. I love your relationship with her.
    Take care and hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving day. We smoke lamb chops, with green beans. The beans were sautéed in butter with red onions, mushrooms and garlic salt. So simple but delicious. My son has protected smoking meats, I call him the smoke master.
    Take care this will pass someday. I hope
    Betty Dickerson, Redding California

    • Hi Betty, I smell the smoker now! Yesterday after I dropped off some slices of pie, a friend honored me with some of his smoked ribs. Alleluia, child! I know what’s for lunch today. Thanks for your kinds words of inquiry about my mom, and the look into your mouth-watering menu. Mom is great, we talk often, and yesterday we tried FaceTime. We both decided the camera lens adds 40 years. 😉 take care, Tom

    • Thank you Joyce, I thought I was a bit of a loner, but I now know I was off the mark. I’m needy as all get out. 😉
      Take care and Buddy sends his love!

  2. Tom, you are such a soulful inspiration. I adore reading about you , your thoughts, your life and adorable pictures. Interesting that you can reach out and “touch” someone all the way in waxhaw, North Carolina! 💁🏼‍♀️😘😷

    • Hi Deb, how lovely to hear from you in North Carolina. Thank you for such generous, kind words. I grew up all over the place, but mainly contained within the Southeast U.S., and some fond memories were captured on North Carolina’s coast. Such a beautiful state. Warm regards, Tom

  3. So glad to receive your newsletter from your beautiful wondrous farm — and yes: this has been, for those for whom the pandemic isn’t a true disaster, a unique time to reflect on what is important.
    I’m like joyce (:waving:) as partner and I are perfectly happy to putter about on various projects on _our_ little island — ours being on a compact lot on an old street in a small city.
    Persevere. Ear-scratches to Buddy.
    And yes — technology, albeit age-enhancing, has been a boon.
    PS: Mouthwatering pears!

    • Hi Cheryl, thank you. (That’s also from Buddy; ear scratches delivered.) I think your line “old street in a small city” would be the perfect title for a book. It has me saying, “Oh, please, tell me more…) As a fellow putterer, though reckless napper is quickly eclipsing that role, I’m determined to get all of my potted plants into the ground (our soil doesn’t freeze here), and organize/de-clutter my kitchen. (Oh, that’s a good one; I almost believe it myself!) As for the Forelle pears, they really are a dreamy winter fruit. I also have another pear variety that shares amazing flavor, named Dana Hovey. If you ever see those at farmers markets, grab a bag or two.

  4. I look forward to your posts like a visit with a dear friend (though we’ve never met.) Needless to say – though I will anyway – seeing Tall Clover Farm in my list of emails cheered me immeasurably this morning and will fuel the smiles behind my mask today!

    Hope all is well with you, your family and many friends,


    • Martha you kind words are like a warm hug this morning. Thank you, and thank you for your well wishes. My family is great, but some friends are facing health challenges brought on by COVID-19, but we all have confidence in their medical teams and fighting spirit.

    • Thanks Debbie, and as for your pie choices: superb! I love blackberry pie, and 1/8th of my freezer is dedicated to the storing of pie berries hand-picked from the beautiful back lanes of Vashon Island. This was a good berry year, and I’ll cleanse our holiday palates with blackberry pie in the coming months. And if I may brag a bit, I make a mean seedless blackberry jam. 😉

  5. Happy belated Thanksgiving !
    I understand thinking one is a loner, until that choice is removed.
    I achingly miss socializing and seeing the mouths of people smiling.
    One upside of this time, is the beauty of increased,sustained eye contact above those masks. Hopefully, that will continue when we can uncover our faces.
    Until then, the very best to you and Buddy.

    • Thank you, Ann, most appreciated. Face masks are my social nemesis, in that I have a really hard time recognizing people. Seems silly, but it’s true. Half of the time, I respond to a “hello” with, “I’m sorry, who are you?” I guess those bank robbers in westerns knew what they were doing. 😉

  6. I’m deeply touched by your reflection on gratitude…beautifully said, Tom. Thank you for the hopefulness your words inspire, and for one such as you!

  7. Beautifully penned, Tom. It’s a good time to reelect on all we’ve lost, but also lessons hard learned.
    PS I’ll take pumpkin if whipped cream is involved, but have you tried peanut pie?!?

    • Perri, I so agree. Pumpkin pie without copious amounts of whipped cream dolloped atop, well, it’s just not pumpkin pie. Now what’s this about peanut pie? I love peanuts, to point where I wonder if the word addiction should come into play. Perri, is it anything like this recipe: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/double-peanut-pie/ I can’t even bring peanuts into the house for fear of mass consumption in a 24-hour period, but maybe I can show more restraint with a peanut pie. (Oh, that’s rich, and very unlikely.)

      • I like your recipe because… more peanuts! The old recipe that got me hooked, from The Virginia Diner, said to beat the peanuts in a ham bag to add flavor. But, the essential ingredient is the Virginia peanut. I feel like I’m in a dark alley passing on this link from one addict to another, but you’re welcome 😉 https://www.hubspeanuts.com/

  8. Happy Holidays to you and Buddy. I’m a hugger to and these last 9 months have been trying. It’s the little things in life that that I cherish more. So, I’m sending you and Buddy an e-mail hug.

  9. Thank you for this! Being confined to a small NYC apartment alone with no pet or outside space has certainly been challenging all these months as well. I breathe outdoor air, with a mask on, of course, pretty much just a couple times a week when I go out to get food. I’m grateful I was able to borrow a car to visit my family upstate for the holiday, where I can go into their backyard and breathe air maskless for a change. Still, like you, I’m grateful for many things…my health, my virtual friends and family, zoom (so I can still work a bit) and unemployment (to make up for some of the work I’ve lost). At least my bread baking skills have vastly improved!

    • Lawrence that must be tough, I can only imagine such confinement. Buddy and I are lucky to have each other and country roads to walk, well walk is really an aspirational term; it’s more like saunter, well maybe even a mosey or meander. So glad you got to visit your family in upstate, such a beautiful place this time of year. It cast its spell on me years ago when I fancied a road trip to see fall color. Was especially smitten with Frederic Church’s home, Olana. Now as for bread-making skills, mine are still average, probably because I have several friends who rise above every yeasty loaf to great heights and generously share their triumphs with me. I think the “19” is COVID is for the number of pounds I’ve gained. 😉

  10. So happy to hear you and Buddy are keeping well. You are my northern hemisphere friends and I worry about you in these troubled times. In Tassie (Tasmania, Australia) it is almost business as usual .. walks, mountains, beaches and weeding, weeding, (we’ve had a good spring) and weeding whilst the dog snores in the shade.

    • Rae, thank you so much for your concern. Yep, we’ve doubled our COVID cases on the island in one week. Folks here take it seriously and wear masks and follow protocols, but an upsurge due to increased travel has come home to roost. I’m so glad things are brighter and under control in your part of the world. On a gardening note, many nurseries here are beginning to carry plants native to your part of the world, with drought tolerance being the big ticket item. So odd that is the new norm, considering I live two hours away from the world’s largest temperate rain forest. Be well, garden on!

  11. Hi Tom,

    I think we’re all in a Covid funk right now, especially with the number of cases getting worse instead of better. But most importantly, I’m glad to hear you and your family are safe and doing well all things considered. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I don’t think it’s an oncoming train so hang in there. And give your mom my warmest regards! Best wishes to you all for the holidays and New Year!

    • Randy, how wonderful to read your comments here. My mom is doing well, and I will send her your well wishes. I hope she can come visit this summer, make that I hope we can all visit wherever we want to this summer. And best to you and your beautiful family, too.

  12. Greetings Tom,
    Like one of your other commenters I want to add that while scrolling down through requests from all sorts of charities and politicians and ads from companies I’ve never even heard of, to find a Tall Clover post is a great blessing. You always bring a smile to my face even before the email is opened. You and Buddy are great friends of mine even though we have never met. As this is a time for expressing gratitude I want to thank you for the time you spend sharing lovely pictures and recipes and thoughts and your marvelous humor. You are a generous spirit who brings joy to people you don’t even know. Thank you for that! God bless you and Buddy too! Alice

    • Alice, maybe it’s the coffee talking or my solitary confinement, but I find your generous and kind words have left me a little teary-eyed. Another thing I’ve learned this year, is that we are all so much alike in wanting what’s best and beautiful and healthy for our friends, family, and dare I say, ourselves. As anyone can see in the comments, our connections reaffirm the goodness and goodwill in us all, handily thwarting external cues and inputs that work to tell us otherwise. So thank you Alice, Buddy and I are honored you call us friends. The feeling is mutual.

  13. Beautifully said. As a fellow islander (Anderson) I understand the isolation, thank heavens for a good dog for company. I do wonder what winter will be like, when it’s not possible to visit with neighbors and friends outside. But, books and tea fill a large gap.

    • Ah Sandra, beautiful Anderson Island. I’ve lost touch with a dear friend whose family once lived there. What a nice reminder for me to reach out to her. My reading these days is so goofy; I’m like a kid who can’t decide on an ice cream flavor. I have a tabletop of books (no surface left uncluttered in my house), and I’ve finally decided on one titled “The Orchardist.” My well-read friend Joy, recommended it. I’m stocked with tea and firewood, so let the winter reading begin. Take care, Tom

  14. A simply beautiful rumination. And the pictures accompanying it are equally beautiful. You put into words what so many of us are experiencing, and these days, that is a way of connecting (even if we still can’t hug, and all the other human stuff we love to do). Take care, and thank you!
    P.S., I am deeply saddened to think of those who enjoy neither pumpkin, nor pecan pie… I imagine it to be a nightmare, like something from a Poe story… on the bright side, that, of course, means more for you and me!

    • Ah Michael, your P.S. cracked me up this morning. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for the kind words and insights. As you say, each day really is a lesson in adapting and connecting in other ways.

  15. Thank you, Tom. It certainly is nice to get out of the city and see some trees…or what’s left of them. We went to Olana the last time I had visited. Yes! Very beautiful! Stay well and safe!

  16. Woke up early with many thoughts and worries after listening to the news last night, when I came across your post.
    Thank you for letting us into your life with your meaningful words, they slowed the wheels for awhile.
    I drive by your house on my way to town and I often check to see how the Madrona sculpture is coming along and imagine your happy bees and all of your well tended fruits, vegetables and flowers. It’s lovely to hear your words and to think of you and Buddy being there.

    • Good Morning Rebecca, Thank you so much. I love that you think of Buddy and me, and check on the place en route to town. It’s time to rebuild the madrona squiggle this year and do some fun things in the front field corner. I’m bit-by-bit establishing some wildflower drifts, but I’ve learned wildflowers kind of grow where THEY want to, so it’s hit-or-hit, but I keep on trying. I remember when we first met on the ferry, another reason to love Washington State Ferries; they bring people together. Big hug, Tom

  17. Such lovely, soulful thoughts. I’ve been following you for years (from across the country in Florida) and I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your beautiful scenery, recipes and warmth! Thank you for sharing your story and life. Lynn

    • Thank you so much Lynn, I really appreciate your generous words. It’s nice to know we’re all neighbors, only separated by a very big back yard, but brought together by modern means. Warm regards, Tom

  18. Buddy,

    Glad to know that you and Tom are doing OK in these trying times.

    Hopefully there is a big change around the corner and we can resume life in a normal manner.

    Stay safe and have a Very Merry (and Safe) Christmas!


  19. Thanks Tad,
    Tom is preoccupied in the kitchen, but I’ll pass along your kind words and well wishes. Thanks for addressing your comment to me, as I really am the Top Dog around here.

  20. Tom, I so enjoy reading your blog and being kept informed on your and Buddy’s (and Rufus’) goings-on. Your pies look so perfect, so delicious. I always love seeing what Buddy is up to. What a character! He’s certainly a guy with many moods, from staring wistfully out the window to sitting on his dad’s head. I don’t know if he’s trying to prove you’re in HIS territory or just saying his bum is cold – it’s hard to know what he’s thinking. And thank you for reminding us to be grateful, even during this miserable *%# plague. It’s always a delight to hear from you, Tom. I’m glad you’re doing ok and didn’t mind my “chicken up on you” since you hadn’t posted in a while.

    • Hi Linda, thanks for the kind comments, and noticing what a wonder dog Buddy is. (He wanted to personally thank you.) We are honored to hear from a Vashon High School graduate, too. I’m sure you have a few island stories to tell, too. Take care, Tom


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