Some patches of red still emanate from the Bradford pear leaves I am now raking into immense piles. Didn't happen on the tree since it decided to cut loose its leaves after the previous brief spell of bitter cold.

Some patches of red still emanate from the Bradford pear leaves I am now raking into immense piles. Didn’t happen on the tree since it decided to cut loose its leaves after the previous brief spell of bitter cold. Pretty much the same story with all the trees around my house except the oaks. The leaves on these tough trees may appear quite brown during the day, but as the sun sets, they glow red, yellow and orange. Soon all leaves will attain the color of the earth as winter settles in.

Before I forget, December 2nd is the deadline for the 2020 Master Gardener class. It begins January 16th and runs to the end of March, total cost $85. A deposit of $45 will hold your position in the class. Each weekly class on a different subject will be taught in the Pottawatomie County Extension Center at14001 Acme Road in Shawnee. Contact 273-7683 for more info. Well worth becoming a Master Gardener.

The last Cherokee Purple tomato has been eaten. The fruit was picked just before the freeze and allowed to ripen indoors. Each bite was savored. Will be a long time before the next fresh home-grown tomato! The three eastern Asian Nandinas, on the other hand, also had every single red berry snipped off but all were put into the rubbish. Nandina berries contain cyanides highly toxic to birds and animals.

Although the temperature plunged to 14 degrees, Charlotte #2 is still hanging onto her west facing web outside the sunporch. This orb weaver was larger than the younger Charlotte #1 who insisted on keeping her web low on the porch. #1 lost her web twice during storms and disappeared weeks ago. Sob. #2 spun her web in a protected, yet insect filled area and has produced at least 2 egg sacks. Will be interesting to see if she makes it through the winter.

The Leonid Meteor Shower is making its annual appearance, maybe. Debris from the comet 55P/Temple-Tuttle vaporizes in the Earth’s atmosphere anywhere from November 6th to the 30th each year, maybe. The peak was predicted to be November 17th. That evening, as darkness settled and the moon rose, I saw a small streaker zoom across the southwest. The stars sparkled in the clear atmosphere with only a few clouds to the west. Went to bed. At 4:30 am I struggled out of bed, grabbed my coat and went outside to gaze at stars. The brilliant moon overhead broke through the high cloud layer that covered the sky, the only heavenly things visible. Back to bed. Before 6:00 am I once again left the warm bed, put on my robe and dashed outdoors, hoping to see some pre-dawn shooting stars. Still overcast and the moon was now setting. Darn it. Reports are this year’s Leonids were a dud, maybe.

Another meteor shower is scheduled for Thursday night (after this article was written). The Alpha Monoceratids (AMO) might arrive in a short-lived burst of meteors (affectionately called a swarm) between 10:30 to 11:00 pm. AMO has produced dazzling meteor swarms in 1925, 1935, 1985 and 1995. We have great chances for rain, but if luck intercedes, I’ll let you know if it meteor-showered.

The Metro pipe line is in the final stages of completion. Crews have been taking down the tall poles festooned with small multi-colored ragged flags that stood over entrances along roads. The temporary fences and gates are being replaced with permanent structures. The lumpy landscape is being leveled and covered with additional soil. Seed and hay are being sprayed across the disturbed corridor of fields and pastures. When asked what kind of seed, the response was ‘seed.’ What will be the present and future impact of crisscrossing the area with so many buried pipelines?

Large semis hauling giant hall bales roar down backroads. Tractors unload the hay and, two by two, the large balls are deposited along the pipeline. Another tractor hoists the hay balls onto this apparatus that feeds each ball into a roller that shoots out the hay like a giant lawnmower does grass. Controlling erosion of so much exposed earth. I will say that several of the workers were pretty cool people.

Another awesome hay ball sculpture has been erected on top of the hill. The happy pilgrim awaits his Thanksgiving meal with fork in one hand and knife in the other. The winds have pivoted the knife a few times, but the tribute to Thanksgiving has stood firm.

Days before Thanksgiving, a million years ago, I remember bringing cans of food to Chestnut Street School in Wilmington, North Carolina. The auditorium was stifling hot and filled to the gills with students and teachers. The Thanksgiving program was followed by each of us walking up onto the stage and putting our donations into boxes. The food would go to the needy. The walk back home was through fallen leaves whirled by crisp cool breezes.

Thanksgivings at my parent’s home were group events. Relatives, friends and friends of friends were always welcome. The card table was set up in the front room for overflow. New dishes appeared. Neighbor Ludie Harrison brought her old-fashioned whipped cream salad with grapes and fruits. Sweet potatoes swimming in juice, butter and brown sugar covered with hundreds of marshmallows were concocted by my cousin. Hominy bathed in cheese with green chilis showed up for the brother-in-law. The mainstays were turkey, herb stuffing, gravy, potatoes, olives, rolls, cranberry salads and the green lime Jello thing with cottage cheese and pineapple. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it! I tried to cut down the sugar in the pumpkin and pecan pies one year. The first and last time.

My husband remembers going to a family Thanksgiving in California anticipating his mom’s type of herb dressing. His aunt presented sausage and oyster dressings. He never forgot that Thanksgiving.

When my family lived overseas, we invited single soldiers and others away from home this time of year. The cook stove in the UK was half the size of an American stove. I pushed in sides and altered some pans to accommodate the situation. Staggering the time dishes were cooked became a creative endeavor. Canned pumpkin and pecans had to be purchased at the commissary since they we­ren’t available on the economy. One Thanksgiving we ate quite late. Our village friends came, but since it was a regular workday for them, we waited.

In Germany our neighbors were quite polite and sampled the foreign food, but appreciated the potatoes and turkey. Germans are meat and potato people. When people from the base came, they brought their typical dishes such as Chinese salad, spring rolls, enchiladas, lemon cake, deep-fried turkey, a variety of wines, and other dishes which added to the cultural richness of the day.

Thanksgiving morning Ramstein AFB held the ‘Turkey Trot’ Volksmarch which skirted the perimeter of the base. Walk for miles while the food cooked, then laze away the afternoon eating and chatting. Always room for a turkey sandwich later and more pie. We were more stuffed than any turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Becky Emerson Carlberg, graduate of Oklahoma State (Plant Pathology) is a teacher, artist, writer as well as certified Oklahoma Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at Becscience@att.net.