Sunday, November 15, 2009

The October Thing is Always in November

Last night we enjoyed the 20-something anniversary of the October thing. Only it is always in November now. It began in October and kept sliding forward year by year until  it settled in to the second weekend of November, or thereabouts. But everyone kept right on calling it The October Thing. It is always on a Saturday night. That hasn't changed. The whole family goes over to the lot my parents own on the banks of a small lake, where they've strung lights, set up a few tables and chairs, and my step dad has a lovely campfire burning. All the children can't resist playing in it. They start with sticks, then surreptitiously sneak other things in to it, like paper plates, until they get caught and get in trouble. Of course now it is the younger kids. The older kids play other pranks.

Everyone brings some food to share. We never coordinate, so we never know what it will be. Last night it was mostly cookies and chips. But there was also my sister's incomparable devilled eggs. And my brother brought "long tailed frog," also called "swamp lizard." Some people call it alligator meat. Because, of course, that is what it is. I had the tiniest piece I could find, just so I could honestly tell you I have eaten alligator meat. Nope, it doesn't taste like chicken. Maybe like pork... I guess it is "what eats the other white meat." A very mild, rather chewy meat.

The main course, though, is hot dogs that we all cook on forked metal cooking poles. I cook mine until it is bubbling, but it is usually still ice cold when I bite in to it. Last night I got it done really well. That was a first. It doesn't matter, really, because the main event is roasting marshmallows. Everyone has their own special way of doing it. One young niece likes to cook them, but not eat them, so she is always going around begging everyone else to let her cook theirs. Her special technique is to catch them on fire, blow them out when they are bubbly and blackened on the outside, then present them to the recipient. I like to get them toasted medium brown all the way around so they are a little crispy on the outside, and melty on the inside. Perfect! My once a year treat. My step dad always makes his hot spiced cider, too, and has leaves it on its own special table in a tiny crockpot.

We talk about all kinds of things. We talk politics and religion and sports, hunting and fishing, video games, tell funny stories and plan future get togethers. My brother brought his pet raccoon last night. It loves to drink soda out of his cup. A teenage niece recited "The Man From Snowy River," Australian accents and all. Sometimes we sing, and one year a son who'd had a dancing lesson taught the box step to a younger cousin.

Gradually, later then they'd intended to stay, different families begin gathering up chairs and children and heading for home, usually taking chips or cookies with them. Everyone is full of marshmallows and root beer, and smells like smoke after our once a year, micro-camping family adventure. 


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Oh, I like my marshmallows the same way you do.

I've had alligator a couple of times. It's not bad, but I'm not dying to have it again.

Cherie said...

That is So GREAT! We have a May thing - hee hee.
I think there are no better memories than these kinds of get togethers with family and friends just enjoying everybody and having good food and a good time.
Sounds completely lovely!

Sassy Granny ... said...

What fun! Living life in community gives it so much more luster. And anything with hot dogs and marshmallows on the menu has my vote.


Protege said...

I love that you have a tradition like this! *The October thing*. I truly enjoyed this post and the fact that you keep celebrating this every year.
I sure would love to taste the alligator meat.;)

Connie said...

sounds like a great time!!!

Precious Gems said...

Thanks so much for sharing. I just wrote a blog you might be interested in. Take a peek!

Sara said...

You made me laugh with your comment about how hot it is there! Way to go on the EG books - I think you will enjoy them.

Susan said...

Sounds like such fun - what a blessing to have a group of relatives you've bonded with and can make memories with...

Islandsparrow said...

That does sound like a fun get-together. I've never tried alligator meat - surprise surprise - but I'd like to

I'm going to look up Margaret Richard's Body Electric - I'd be happy to have startling results - of the good sort :)

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