November 15, 2018

by Sam Riccobene, MDiv, AWU Officiant

“Call me a squirrel. I don’t mind.” Every year about this time driving along a city street or on a morning walk, or if you’re me, riding a bicycle. Large patches of road or sidewalk get covered with acorns, or pecans. Usually, but not always, oak and pecan trees are masting abundantly this time of year (masting: a large crop of acorns, pecans or other nuts falling from trees). This year we have a good crop. So much so that they crunch under our tires or the soles of our shoes, leaving their messy tannin stains on our pathways, a mark of abundance. Squirrels zip, zag, and jump around in nature’s amazing nut piles, munching down and gathering up. I can’t help but think animals that depend on nuts for their survival are happy about this abundance just as we humans are.

When the weather cools down, and the pecans come down, and the days get shorter, you’ll find me thankfully filling my pockets under those gigantic pecan trees in Zilker Park, beside Barton Springs, or just about anywhere in town I happen to be. I love fall shade under these old giant branches. A squirrel indeed. I take them home, bag them up, get them cracked, shell them and put them aside for use in pecan pies and ice-cream sundaes. Um, um good.

Sometimes I wonder if the best things in life aren’t simply free? Like pecans for the taking, the love of another person, happy gatherings of people around a table full of favorite foods, the chance to cuddle with an infant, the quiet companionship of a good dog. Thankfulness is a very fine state of being.

Here in North America June has earned favor as the marryin’ month. But in Texas a fall wedding is a thing to behold. Once I officiated a late fall wedding at a venue near Dripping Springs. My couple used yellows and browns and oranges to the max, picking up the colors of the season, expressing their mutual love of those vibrant tones while sharing their gratitude for having found love in each other with their families and friends. It was a wedding fat with all the trimmings; color and gratitude and deep appreciation for the gifts of life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

~ Rev. Sam Riccobene