I started visiting the Audubon Center and Sanctuary in the 1970s. I took my children to Saturday programs and camps 10 or 15 years ago. I’ve worked there for the past nine years. Still, it took until this year for me to make it to one of Audubon’s oldest traditions – Thanksgiving with the Birds.
In the early days, before Jamestown Audubon Society had any property, the event was held at Allegany State Park. Once the property on Riverside Road was acquired, the dinner had a home – outside at first… now mostly inside.
It all starts at 11:15 when the fire is started for the (in)famous soup pot. The recipe? It’s sort of a variation on Stone Soup, I guess you could say: As folks arrive, they dump a small portion of any-kind-of soup into the pot. Well, not any-kind-of… They are supposed to avoid cream soups. Broth soups only.
In years past, not all have obeyed the no-cream-soups rule. I know… I’ve seen the leftovers in the refrigerator the next morning… not very appetizing. So, understandably, I was a bit hesitant when it was time to sample the soup.
This year, it was pretty tasty… so tasty that there were barely any leftovers!
While folks enjoy soup outside, volunteers work inside decorating the tables and carving the turkeys. A committee supplies the turkeys; all the side dishes are provided potluck style by the participants.
After dinner, there is always a program, often with slides. Think about that. People come and fill themselves with way too much food, including turkey with its supposed sleep-inducing tryptophan. Then we turn the lights down low, show some pretty pictures, and talk to them… Doesn’t that sound like a recipe for disaster? It did to me, the invited speaker! (Yes, you heard it right… I wasn’t at this event as a fellow guest… I was on the clock! I suppose my boss will tease me forever about how the only way she was able to get me to this annual event was to make me work on a Saturday!)
My talk was completely random. Pictures made it into the slide show only if they were taken at the Sanctuary or of an official offsite event, and if they inspired an interesting story. I gave prizes for people who were truly paying attention. I think only one person snoozed a little during a two and a half minute stretch of 36 wildflower pictures that automatically advanced every 4 seconds or so… Hypnotizing…
Anyway… I had a great time and might go back again – even if I don’t have to work that Saturday! The food was great. The company was great. A fabulous way to kick off the holiday season.
There are more pictures at Audubon’s Flickr Site.