Tuesday, November 27, 2007

That Was Thanksgiving

We took a road trip for Thanksgiving and we overdid things a bit. No, not the food; I mean the driving. For a few days, we spent the majority of our time in the car, which is a silly way to pass a holiday: more time spent "getting there" than "being there."

First we drove to Deming, New Mexico and arrived in time to sit down and eat Thanksgiving dinner with my fiance's family. We were welcomed by her parents, her brother and sisters, and the most enormous German shepherd I have ever seen.

No, I mean truly. There are dogs so large they almost become not dogs anymore. You don't treat them the way you treat regular dogs. When a dog is of a size that it could swallow a Great Dane, we're not in dog territory anymore. This German shepherd in Deming, this is a dog that can fetch aircraft carriers. This is a dog you have to look up at to say hello. This is a dog whose paws are occasionally checked for missing toolsheds it may have stomped on. As some dogs bury bones, this dog buries cars in the backyard. When we arrived and got our bags from the car trunk, I thought I saw another lunar eclipse and realized that couldn't be right. Then I felt a bucketful of warm, happy slobber hit the brim of my hat and realized this was no eclipse.

Her name is Molly. And I am told she is still growing.

We sat down to dinner, and the house was warmed by the dog laying down around the entire house and engulfing it in fur. Sarah's mom prepared a surprise for me, a special vegetarian entree alongside the turkey and green bean casserole and stuffing and traditional Thanksgiving whatnot: fresh, spicy, home-made cheese enchiladas, armed with the hottest local chile peppers. The gesture brought tears to my eyes and a sniffle to my nose - not so much because of the sentiment, although that was surely appreciated, but because these were hot New Mexico chile peppers. And the sauce was delicious, which prompted me to keep eating, until my breath was starting to ignite the candles on the table.

Does this place have chile peppers? Deming is very close to Hatch, known internationally as The Valley of Scorched Tongues when its annual chile pepper festival inflates the village's population from 1,600 to 30,000 for one week. The place is a riot of hot red peppers hanging from every storefront, as we saw when drove through Hatch the following morning.

I had some business in Santa Fe and spent another five hours in the car, rolling up into big, fat flakes of warm snow falling on Albuquerque and Santa Fe. My appointment in Santa Fe consisted of coffee, a hot bowl of soup, and a conversation that took about 90 minutes. We had planned on taking a leisurely stroll through the Plaza but it was turning out not to be that kind of day, as the snow fell and fell. So we just got back into the car and headed back to California, that long drive across New Mexico, up up up into Flagstaff, back down another side and into the mojave desert.

So there you have it! A holiday reminding us about the beginnings of American life, spent the way so many Americans spend modern life: footloose, car-dependent, more time spent in transit than in being, yet happy to be among family, food, and an enormous, loving dog.
That was our holiday - thanks for reading.

1 comment:

Theriomorph said...

ha ha ha!

I really, really, want to meet that dog.

"Puppy, come here, I think you have a condo stuck between your toes."