Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
By Phil Junker
Thanksgiving is a holiday filled with tradition, and it dates back to before the founding of our country. It predates the event called “the first Thanksgiving” when the Pilgrims and Indians met to share a meal or meals.
When the Indians and Pilgrims gathered, it is likely the gathering went on for several days. There undoubtedly was plenty of eating, but it may not have been much like pictured in some books. There weren’t any pumpkin pies because there were no ovens for baking. There also weren’t a lot of eating utensils around, so probably there was a rush to grab a turkey leg or wing to chew on.
Records don’t indicate that the Thanksgiving event was repeated by the Pilgrims, so apparently no tradition was started there.
However, even before the Pilgrims arrived in this country, the first Americans (Indians) conducted traditional ceremonies and rituals related to the harvest to express their gratitude to a higher power for life itself.
One Seneca ritual stated, “Our creator...Shall continue to dwell above the sky, and this is where those on the earth will end their thanksgiving.” Also attributed to Indians prior to the arrival of Columbus was a saying that “the plant has nourishment from the earth and its limbs go up this way, in praise of its Maker...like the limbs of a tree.”
Thanksgiving over the years has become known as an American tradition. It certainly is a holiday the Junker family enjoys.
For years, the family gathered at Grandma’s little house at Marshall, Ill. The men usually hunted in the morning while the women prepared a big meal--more food than we possibly could eat
As family members moved and older members passed away, things began to change. It was harder to get the big group together, so individual family members began to gather with their children.
For the Junkers and my wife’s family, the day became one of thanksgiving, food and football, and for some a nap after the big dinner. That dinner was not only a turkey, it also included ham, several types of dressing (some don’t like oysters), at least two kinds of cranberry sauce, and who knows how many pies and desserts.
For several years, I made a meager attempt to get the women to agree to go out to eat, but they wouldn’t listen, let alone agree. The meal preparation is an integral part of the holiday. The women catch up on each other’s lives in the process. My brother-in-law Paul cooks the turkey outside in a smoker.
Most families have their traditions, and a ran across a couple of different ones last week while fishing with friends at Kentucky Lake.
One family gathers for homemade pizza. Now, that’s different. The other meets in Paducah for a wiener roast. Yea, wiener roast. They cook over an outdoor bonfire and enjoy the outdoors.
All of the members I know from another family, meet at a shelter in Indianapolis to help cook a hearty meal for the disadvantaged and homeless. That’s their way of giving thanks for their own personal bounty.
In this country, we truly have been blessed. Most of us have an abundance of food and warm homes. And whether we dine turkey, hot dogs or pizza, we have much for which to be thankful.
Thanks on this special day should not only be offered to the Creator, but to our spouses, family and friends, who do so much for us every day.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
Several days ago, a nice buck darted in front of the car on a rural road. He went a few yards into the woods and stopped to watch as we passed his spot. It reminded me this is a peak time for deer and autos to tanglle.
Deer have been especially active earlier this year. That means more opportunity hunters, but it also means more chances of deer-auto collisions.
Many farmers harvested their crops weeks sooner than normal. That has led to increased early fall deer movement during the time which traditionally is the top time of the year for deer-auto accidents.
Over the years, I’ve had more than my share of accidents involving deer. I think my number is somewhere around 13 or 14. Maybe it is because I’ve lived many of my years in a rural setting, and also because I seem to put a lot of miles on a vehicle. Otherwise, I have a good driving record, and fortunately I haven’t collided with any deer for a number of years.
Once, I drove 2,000 miles on a fall hunting trip only to hit a deer about a mile from my house on the return trip. I even installed deer whistles on my car and had one of them knocked off when I collided with a small buck.
So when I hear or read about wildlife officials issuing their annual fall deer warning, it catches my attention and is something worthy of passing along to readers.
When I received a news release from an auto insurance company about states where drivers are most likely to strike deer. I just assumed Indiana would be near the top of the list--at least somewhere in the top 10. To my surprise I was wrong.
While the number of miles driven by U.S. motorists over the past five years has increased just two percent, the number of deer-vehicle collisions in this country during that time has grown by 10 times that amount.
Using its claims data, State Farm®, one of the nation’s largest auto insurers, estimates 2.3 million collisions between deer and vehicles occurred in the U.S. during the two-year period between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010. That’s 21.1 percent more than five years earlier.
To put it another way, according to State Farm, during your reading of this paragraph, a collision between a deer and vehicle will likely have taken place (they are much more likely during the last three months of the year and in the early evening).
For the fourth year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of those states where a driver is most likely to collide with a deer. Using its claims data in conjunction with state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration, State Farm calculates the chances of a West Virginia driver striking a deer over the next 12 months at 1 in 42.
Iowa is second on the list. The likelihood of a licensed driver in Iowa striking a deer within the next year is 1 in 67. Michigan (1 in 70) is third. Fourth and fifth on the list are South Dakota (1 in 76) and Montana (1 in 82).
Pennsylvania is sixth, followed by North Dakota and Wisconsin. Arkansas and Minnesota round out the top 10.
The state in which deer-vehicle collisions are least likely is still Hawaii (1 in 13,011). The odds of a Hawaiian driver hitting a deer between now and 12 months from now are roughly equivalent to the odds of finding a pearl in an oyster shell.
So where was Indiana on the list? The state was in the middle of the pack, with one chance out of 160 drivers of colliding with a deer during the past year. Kentucky had a rate of one out of 161, and Ohio was one out of 121.
Don’t become one of the “ones” in the statistics. Be especially cautions during early evening through a couple hours after dark.