Thanksgiving in Kernville or How I went looking for turkey, yams, and stuffing and found something to write about

Our Thanksgiving in Kernville often goes down something like this: wake early, check for the fifth time you have all ingredients for whatever potluck dish you’re bringing to dinner hosted by the Giddenseseses, follow make-ahead recipe instructions up to the actual oven step, go for a hike, toast the top of the hike with wine from a Platypus bottle, shower, dress, shove potluck creation in oven, snack on peanut butter and crackers, pull dish out of oven, grab pot holders and a serving utensil, walk to the Giddenseseses, pour yourself a beverage, nosh on appetizers, watch last-minute food prep, then nom nom nom, followed by walking to Riverside Park with a football, hula hoop, frisbees, etc. Pie and 80-proof eggnog cap off the evening. You’ve got to love tradition. And day-after naps.

During the 2011 Thanksgiving Day hike, our group found an enormous, old, funky carpet slipper, and when I say carpet slipper, I mean it was made of actual carpet. We left it where it lay, but I wrote about it the next day, just because the damned thing would not stop pestering me. It was just too weird.

Found objects are awesome subjects to write about for so many reasons, because they:

  • –can be mysterious
  • –serve as a metaphor for anything and anyone who has ever been lost
  • –carry with them all the fear, joy, relief, sadness, tragedy, drama, and triumph that “lost” and “found” imply
  • –often bear marks, stains, or other evidence that provide clues to their past
  • –allow you to speculate on their past owner
  • –allow you to speculate on their “life,” their story, their former worth
  • –ask you to predict their future
  • –allow you to reveal something about yourself through your speculation
  • –might smell a little like fancy cheese


Of course, anything found is fair game, but if you are specifically hunting for an item to inspire an outpouring of words, you might write about:

  • –Something found on the street
  • –Something found in the trash
  • –Something found on a shelf or in the bottom of a drawer, closet, box, suitcase, fridge, etc
  • –Something found in a museum, library, gallery, department store (best to photograph this something, rather than suffer grand-theft charges)
  • –Something found in a field, on a trail, on the beach, etc
  • –A time when you were found
  • –A sentence, message, word, or name found in your spam
  • –A sentence, message, word, or name found on a billboard or posted sign


Once you’ve found your something, I recommend photographing and/or drawing it. This will force you to pay attention to this something, and will reveal aspects, angles, and features that you may have missed otherwise. Next, let yourself get a little loony; talk to this something. Ask it questions. What’s its deal? Where did it come from? How did it get here? What does it want from you?
Finally, experiment with form. You might create an upcycled poetic object, by writing a poem using found materials. You might write about multiple found objects and their relationship to one another, and to you. You might write a nonfiction prose piece in the form of an interview, a manual, a spam ad for Canadian pharmaceuticals. In the end, it’s only appropriate that the piece’s form find you. Who’s lost now, sister?

A walkway in Riverside Park in Manhattan, New ...


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