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Gardening For Wildlife #43, The True Meaning of Thanksgiving
November 19, 2007

For my Canadian friends, My apologies for missing you last week Monday on your Thanksgiving.

After starting the past week in the 60's, the temperatures have become more seasonal.

We still could use some rain.

The red breasted nuthatch continues to eat from my hand, I must try it with some of my other feathered friends.

Northern cardinals are once again regular visitors throughout the day.

Yolanda will remind us when she sees cardinals as they are her favorite bird.

Goldfinches, house finches and purple finches are showing in numbers.

My visitors wouldn't be complete without my chickadees.

Toss in white breasted nuthatches, woodpeckers, juncos and a few other birds and my feeding stations become quite busy in these shortened days.

This past week end, Keet and I enjoyed a walk in the field and woods edge ( A relaxed Akita to the right).

A perfect time for a walk, as most of the trees and shrubs have dropped their foliage.

The number of bird nests I saw was incredible.

Robin's nests still held together from last springs construction.

Late summer's tightly woven Goldfinch nests scattered throughout.

Every now and then was the flimsy Mourning dove nest and cardinal nests.

High in an oak tree remains an oriole nest.

Robins and orioles are considered some of the real construction engineers of the bird world.

When you are aware of your surroundings, you will notice many things you never paid attention to before.

On nature walks, you can see birds busily foraging for food, look above and at ground level.

Look everywhere, different birds have different habits and food sources.

Every now and then we scare up some turkeys and a deer or two.

Word has it that some Red-tail fox have moved into the neighborhood, I haven't seen them yet.

Thanksgiving Day is this week for The United States of America,

Today, it seems to mean turkey and the start of the Christmas shopping season.

However, there is a true meaning behind the festive day and weekend.

The First Thanksgiving

The early settlers of Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts were particularly grateful to Squanto, the Native American and former British slave who taught them how to both catch eel and grow corn and also served as their native interpreter.

Without Squanto's assistance, the settlers might not have survived in the New World.

The Pilgrims did have a feast in 1621, after their first harvest, and it is this feast which people often refer to as "The First Thanksgiving".

This feast was never repeated, though, so it can't be called the beginning of a tradition, nor was it termed by the colonists or "Pilgrims" a Thanksgiving Feast.

In fact, to these devoutly religious people, a day of thanksgiving was a day of prayer and fasting, and would have been held any time that they felt an extra day of thanks was called for.

Nevertheless, the 1621 feast has become a model that we think of for our own Thanksgiving celebration and we do know something of the truth about it.

We can assume, for example, that the harvest feast was eaten outside based on the fact that the Colonists didn't have a building large enough to accommodate all the people who came.

Native People were definitely among the invited guests, and it's possible. even probable, that turkey (roasted but not stuffed) and pumpkin in some form, found their way to the table.

And it gets better. This is the way the feast was described in a first-hand account presumably by a leader of the colony, Edward Winslow,

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, Many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

From this we know that the feast went on for three days , included ninety "Indians", and food was plentiful.

In addition, to the venison provided by the Indians, there was enough wild fowl to supply the village for a week. The fowl would have included ducks, geese, turkeys and even swans.

The National Thanksgiving Proclamations

National Thanksgiving Proclamations proclaim thanks for God's providence in the events of the nation and, as President Washington explained in his Thanksgiving Proclamation, for the many signal favors of Almighty God in the lives of the people.

As congress recognized the importance of Thanksgiving observance, President George Washington issued a national Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789. He wrote,

"Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country".

President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a Federal holiday as a "prayerful day of Thanksgiving" on the last Thursday in November. Since then every U.S. President has always made an official Thanksgiving Proclamation on behalf of the nation.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the date for Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939 (approved by Congress in 1941).

History of Thanksgiving in Canada

The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an English explorer, Martin Frobisher who had been futilely attempting to find a northern passage to the Orient.

He did, however, establish a settlement in Canada. In the year 1578, Frobisher held a formal ceremony in what is now the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, to give thanks for surviving the long journey.

This event is widely considered to be the first Canadian Thanksgiving, and the first Thanksgiving celebrated by Europeans in North America.

In 1957, the Canadian Parliament declared Thanksgiving to be "a Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed," and officially decided that the holiday take place on the second Monday in October.

There you have it, a short history lesson on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving truly is a day to give Thanks,

However, we don't need a national holiday to give thanks, You can have a moment anytime to give thanks.

Here in the North country,birds are really busy feeding in these shorter and cooler days.

They have less time to store up more energy just to survive another night.

High energy foods like sunflower seeds, Nyjer and peanuts really help certain birds.

Suet and other fatty products help your feathered friends too

Check out suet feeders and suet.

There are some interesting factsd and tidbits on suet.

You can also treat your birds by cutting suet into small pieces or grinding partially frozen suet and tossing it on a platform feeder or on the ground.


It's time to fly for now.

There is now an About Me page on the Website. For those interested in seeing what I look like.

The picture is from this spring and casual.

For some reason, graphics are not coming through to some subscribers.

I'm working on that.

Since I switched services, things are messed up.

A blessed Thanksgiving and do give thanks.

Wear your favorite smile this week.

Share it with a stranger or someone that is in need of a good smile.

You will feel better.

Until next time my friend.

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS: Feel free to forward this to friends and family or send them to so they can register to recieve their free copies.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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