Trail Markers 

Last Sunday, I found myself confronted with a beautiful sunny afternoon and no obligation to do anything but enjoy it. The ground was still too wet to mow/mulch that layer of leaves covering my front yard. Darn it. My wife was staring at legal work in the den. My best golfing buddy was elsewhere. I've lost all interest in pro football. What to do? It was a blue-sky day, temps in the mid-50s. Perfect for a little exercise and recreation. I decided to walk nine holes at good ol' Overton Park.

The round started out well. I made a couple of pars, then set off on the trail through the deep woods between holes number two and three. Imagine my surprise to find a massive(!) tree had fallen and obliterated the path and surrounding area, blocking all progress. Then imagine the weird sight of a man carrying a golf bag through a thick forest, climbing over logs, pushing through underbrush, looking for a way to the next tee box. Fore! Only in Memphis, I thought. But then I remembered, "Hey, I can write about this." Which is how a lot of my thought patterns go, to be honest.

click to enlarge Links at Overton Park clubhouse
  • Links at Overton Park clubhouse

So, I ended up being thankful for the misadventure, for a new perspective on golf, and for the opportunity to forge a new trail. And since it's Thanksgiving week, a time when giving thanks is the whole point, please indulge me while I do just that.

I'm a lucky man. I'm thankful for my health (knock on wood) and for my family and my friends here in Memphis — and, well, all over. If you live on the planet as long as I have, you leave a trail. And not just in the woods at Overton Park.

I'm thankful for this job — for the nearly 20 years and the 1,000 or so issues of the Flyer that have had my name atop the masthead as editor. That's a good run in this business. Or any business, for that matter. I'm thankful to have been blessed to work with so many talented, smart, funny, loveable folks through the years. I'm even thankful for the one or two jerks — you know, for contrast.

I'm thankful for the usual motley ensemble of family and friends that will come together Thursday at our house to enjoy a dinner we all create. I'm thankful for our dining room table's extra leaves, so we can all sit and toast each others' health and taste each others' food and offer gratitude for this annual gathering of kindred souls.

I'm grateful for my wife, Tatine, who defends the defenseless in court every day and who makes her mysterious sweet potato "yellow mush" for Thanksgiving dinner, and completes my life.

I'm thankful for my daughter, Mary, who maintains our silly tradition of making Paula Deen's ridiculous green bean casserole, year after year, and for her husband, Richard, who brings his terrible jokes; for Jackie and Jahn, whose hair-colors change with each visit, and who bring mountains of cheese for their spectacular macaroni; for my stepson, Roman, just graduating from college, and for his dad, Kevin, who brings his famous scalloped potatoes from Little Rock; for our friend John, who provides moist stuffing and dry wit; and for our friend Harrell, who brings his guitar, tales of Beale Street, and a bottle of champagne.

I'm grateful for my too-seldom-seen siblings in New Mexico and Missouri and Minnesota; for my son Andrew in New York (or on the road, making his music); for my stepdaughter Agatha and her husband, Alex, in Brooklyn, and for their beautiful new twin boys, who've brought Tatine and me into the world of grandparenting; and for our wonderful French relations in Marseille, whose family I had the good fortune to marry into. 

And speaking of the French, I'm grateful to them and to the Californians who make the wine we drink with dinner; and to the Kentuckians who smoke the big turkey my mother always sends us, even in her 95th year.

Most of all, I'm grateful for the opportunity to enjoy another Thanksgiving, another year around the sun, another marker on the trail of this life we're all walking together.

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