Column: Musings about Vermont, Thanksgiving, and turkey legs

Mike Skinner. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Mike Skinner. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Geoff Hansen


For the Valley News

Published: 11-06-2023 7:11 AM

I’ve looked through the columns I had published for the Valley News, and, to my horror, I discovered I wrote little about Vermont. I also realized that Thanksgiving is coming up, and I should ponder that a little, which led me to think about, of course, turkey legs.

Hang with me for a minute, and I will attempt to connect the dots, which loosely relate to a story about Vermont.

Musing #1: Vermont

I will start with Vermont. My lack of writing about it does not reflect my being an anti-Vermonter. Here are some of my reasons for loving The Green Mountain State: I used to live in Bradford. My wife is a University of Vermont graduate. We think Bernie Sanders is a hoot to watch on TV as he revs up the topics of inequality, lack of healthcare, and climate change: I love how he waves his arms and hands passionately while shouting with drawn red cheeks and his New Yorker - style speech. Notch up the Love the Bern laughs when he wears his knitted caps.

We love the Norwich Bookstore and the effect of Dan and Whit’s on the community.

Two of our sons left New Hampshire to live in Vermont, and they are happy, happy.

I could easily shift, though, to niggling what bugs me about those living west of the Connecticut River, such as the turnover of town management of Norwich, or parking issues in Woodstock. I haven’t dug into those subjects enough to divert from musings to niggly reporting, though.

Musings #2: Thanksgiving

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I mentioned that two of my sons live in Vermont. This presents a slight problem for my wife and I because each son and their significant other have invited us to their homes on Thanksgiving Day. When we were their age, we enjoyed that holiday because of the tasty turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and spending time with family and friends. Now it’s their turn.

I fantasize each son arguing over the phone with the other.

“I am going to invite them over for Thanksgiving again this year. Mom and Dad were so much fun.”

“That’s not fair; you can’t have them two years in a row,” the other would say.

That’s the fantasy. Here is the more likely discussion:

“Hey, it’s your turn this year to invite them. Just remember to get an extra half gallon of egg nog if Dad will be there.”

This year, though, through a weird turn of events, we will not go to either of our sons’ houses.

Musing #3: Turkey legs

The weird turn of the event is that Dartmouth-Hitchcock scheduled me for general and plastic surgery on my own leg. This will leave a wound, probably big enough to stuff a small turkey leg in, and they will cover it with a skin graft from my other leg. The timing of the surgery is, unfortunately, the week of Thanksgiving. This will require keeping my leg up for a week, and no shower for six weeks. Jeez, I may not get any Christmas invitations either at that point.

Of course, it must devastate my sons at the news. But one of my closest friends, Walley, has suggested that he and the rest of my family save up the greasy skins from each turkey carcass and lay it over my skin graft so at least I can have a perfectly seasoned graft with a holiday scent while I’m recovering at home.

Gosh, what is that I smell? Rosemary? Sage? Thyme?

I think I’d prefer some effort on my family’s part to build a disability access ramp to one their beautiful Vermont houses on Thanksgiving so I can access more easily that egg nogg, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pies. I’ll even pay for the ramp and get a motorized wheelchair.

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On a more serious note: This will be the only column I write for the month of November. It goes without saying that we face historical challenges over the next few months, which may again include putting U.S. soldiers in harm’s way. What better time to wish them, and you, a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

Mike Skinner lives in Lebanon, and can be reached at