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If a Woodchuck Could Chuck Wood THEY had lasagna for Thanksgiving dinner that year. The meatless kind. From a can. "Nothing like the smell of a good bird in the oven," Mike Senior announced, scraping his boots on the doormat, inhaling. "Uh, Pop?" Janet whispered. "Yes, ma'am?" "Never mind. Happy Thanksgiving, Pop. Let me help you with your coat. There are a few things in the kitchen I've got to see to yet. Mike should be back any minute. I'll leave you and Shawn to get reacquainted." He smelled it all morning. He smelled it when he woke up in the cramped, stuffy bedroom he rented near the school in South Boston where he worked as a custodian part-time-fresh, brought in from the woodshed where it had been kept during the night to keep it moist. He smelled it as the bus crossed the state line into Maine-skin turning brown, the first drippings running down the sides. He smelled it at the rest stop where he bought Shawn an Indian tomahawk made in Taiwan, smelled it during the walk from the abandoned railroad bridge where the bus let him offalmost done now, the gravy bubbling in the pan, its aroma taking him past the boarded-up stores of the old mill town, the overgrown orchards, the brief view of the lake which meant he was halfway there . . . a rich, fragrant distillation of sixty Thanksgivings past, so strong that none of the changes in the house could 23 IF A WooDCHUCK CoULD CHUCK WooD 24 stain it; not the plastic stretched tight over the windows to keep out drafts, not the towels stuffed against cracks the plastic missed, not the ugly black woodstove jutting out from the fireplace, appropriating all the space near the couch ... not even the garlic and parmesan cheese Janet was sprinkling over the top of the casserole dish in a last desperate attempt to make it all palatable. "And just how heavy is it this year, Shawn?" he asked, playing to memories and traditions he felt it was his duty to impart. "Seven. Seven and a half in May." Shawn was busy chopping up the coffee table. He thought his grandfather had asked him his age. "Seven pounds, eh? Kind of on the scrawny side, isn't it? By the way, Shawn. That's a real Indian scalping hatchet you've got yourself there. Never point it at anybody unless you mean business." Mike got home around one. He didn't say where he had been. He went into the bathroom to wash his hands. "I was just admiring your stove there," Mike Senior said when he came back. "Clever the way it fits in so snug." "Eats wood." Mike Senior nodded, as if Mike had said something profound. "That so? Well, guess it's nice to have the trusty furnace to fall back on. You can say what you want about the good old days but give me a nice tight burner every time." "We shut it off, Pop. Eats oil." Mike Senior nodded again, pursing his lips this time, as if his son had just topped his previous insight with an even truer one. "That's an idea. Hey, you know, talking about woodstoves ... We used to have one when I was a boy. A real potbelly, too. At least my grandfather did. He was quite a piece of work, my grandfather . Your great-grandfather, Mike. Shawn's great-great-grandfather . It was my job to fill the stove every night before I went to bed so it wouldn't go out." IF A WooDCHUCK CoULD CHUCK WooD "Did it?" 25 "Did it what?" "Go out. This one's always going out. That's what it does best. Goes out." "Well, naturally. You've got to ..."He tried to remember what his grandfather had said in 1918. "You've got to spit on it first. You've got to make sure your tinder is dry." Mike sat on the couch nursing a beer. His face had hardened since the last time Mike Senior had seen him. There was something reproachful about his prematurely gray hair, his tired eyes. "You never showed me, Pop. You never taught me about woodstoves when I was small." It took Mike Senior off guard. The frowning. The green work pants he hadn't bothered changing out of. He wished Shawn would come back from wherever he was hiding. "Well, no. Of course, because we...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780822978855
Related ISBN
9780822962533
MARC Record
OCLC
568748238
Pages
160
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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