DISCLOSURE TALKYSPEAK: Thanks to American Express for sponsoring posts today about small businesses. American Express is presenting Small Business Saturday, a way to honor the local merchants who are the backbone of the economy, this Saturday, November 27. They're offering statement credits to people who shop at small businesses, advertising for small-business owners, and donations to Girls Inc. for "Likes" of the Small Business Saturday page on Facebook. Join the celebration by clicking the "Like" button at the bottom of this entry and then visiting the Facebook page to learn more about the program and read the terms and conditions that apply.
ACTUAL AMALAH-TYPE TALKYSPEAK:
I cannot lie. I just spent three hours in the car. Three long, torturous hours. Procuring our Thanksgiving turkey.
It wasn't supposed to take three hours, of course. Half hour up to the farm, 15 minutes there selecting the bird, another 20 minutes or so wandering around with the boys, visiting with the -- ahem -- pardoned birds still wandering around the pens and the cows and what-have-you, taking adorable photos with them all decked out in Thanksgiving-y outfits I done picked out special...and then a half hour trip back, high on life and the knowledge that HOT DAMN, that is one delicious-looking, never-frozen turkey sitting on the passenger seat there.
Most turkeys from the grocery store around here -- and all of them at the farmers' markets -- have to arrive frozen. Buying directly from the farm is the best way to get fresh, never-frozen bird, and as we discovered about three or four Thanksgivings ago, the difference will blow the top of your skull off. Figuratively speaking, with only the teensiest dash of hyperbole. So ever since, we've made the trek up to Maple Lawn turkey farm and lugged the thing home in a big-ass cooler.
This year, it was my turn to make the trip. The day got away from me and I left a smidge closer to rush hour than I would have liked, but hey, I was driving to the COUNTRY. There's no rush hour in the COUNTRY. Come on, kids! Grab the camera and the earth-toned sweaters, and let's make some memories.
It took us an hour to get there. Noah fell asleep. Ezra demanded my entire stash of for-emergency-only granola bars. We hit traffic and red lights and detours and fender benders. It started drizzling at one point and the entire driving population of suburban-to-rural Maryland lost its damn mind.
And when we got there, it was already too dark to take any pictures of the turkeys or the cows. But it wasn't too dark to see the line. THE LINE.
The line for turkeys stretched across the barnyard to the...uh...turkey dispensin' barn, I guess, where it wrapped around and looped back and forth about four times inside. Most people came armed with their preorder slips and wheelie coolers -- except for me, who came armed with only a clunky SLR camera and two stir-crazy children.
But we waited. "Everybody" swore they'd never seen a line or demand like this, even though "everybody" also swore that they'd been buying turkeys from this farm for years. That math didn't really compute, but I didn't really care. I was...happy for the farm. Happy to see the dozens and dozens of people buying their food directly from the growers and caretakers of that food. The other parents explaining to their children that yes, the turkeys in that pen over there were, in fact, the same thing that they now carried wrapped in butcher's paper and a plastic bag. Everybody, despite being gobsmacked by the line and worn out from the drive, readily swearing up and down that it was worth it. Buying from here was worth it.
"You should have seen my mother-in-law's face," the woman behind me said, as I eavesdropped on her conversation with another stranger in line. "You can't screw these turkeys up, but SHE doesn't know that."
Eventually, it was our turn. One of the farmers asked Noah and Ezra if they were excited for Turkey Day, and they both obliged him with an enthusiastic "GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE!" on cue. I selected our bird -- which cost just about a buck less per pound than the equivalent organic birds at the supermarket -- and wearily corralled the boys back outside, where it was now way, way, WAY too dark to get the pictures I'd hoped for.
Instead, we marched back to the car and prepared to leave. Suddenly, Noah started to shriek and laugh. I looked over out the window...just in time to see two or three dairy cows stick their heads over the fence I'd pulled in next to, close enough for Noah and I to reach out our windows and touch the tips of their noses. They mooed in approval before moving away.
Yep. Just like every year: Totally worth it.