Monday, October 1, 2007

What if Community Suppers weren’t just about Good Food?

I love autumn. It enlivens me. The spicy fall colours wake me up after the lazy heat of summer; the coolness in the air tingles like a brisk body rub.

The tradition of the Lower Cape turkey supper is also an autumn highlight of my year. I feel off kilter if I’ve been unable to lend a hand to help out.

Pleasant memories are found in the kitchen smells of the turkey, gravy and wood smoke, the collective energy of dozens of helpers, the easy camaraderie and corny jokes, neighbours catching up with neighbours and getting to know the new faces, all of them glistening with the heat and steam from cooking vegetables.

It’s organized chaos and pure joy manifested in hard work, while outside, folk mill about socializing and generally enjoying the hour-long wait before jovial Willis Steeves finds them a seat at the table. The supper is renowned throughout the county. People drive miles for the finest turkey meal known to mortal man.

Main organizers Carol Steeves and Sylvia Stevens have been directing the kitchen work for 35 years, while Margorie Henwood supervises the dining room and servers. Once, they worried about the suppers dying a slow death without new helpers being prepared to take it on. But, by the evidence in the kitchen last Saturday afternoon, there should be no concerns. Each year, more teenagers discover the joys of teamwork and serving others.

Serving 600 meals is no easy task; preparation begins many weeks earlier as turkeys and vegetables are purchased. Then that week, the best cooks in the county begin making donuts, rolls, and pies. Pickles, beets, and cranberry sauce are all donated as well.

As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.” Lower Cape turkey suppers may not echo through world in a global sense, but they've certainly reverberated through my world.

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