Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Playing With Food #2

I meet the road grader on the ridge road to the Amish farm. The town is widening the road, adding more base gravel and planning a sealcoat as a final step. Briefly, I imagine what the road was like in the 1920's before newcomers added two fancy houses on the edge of the ridge for the million dollar view across a three mile valley and woods. The houses are occupied on a few weekends and holidays. Ten years later, the owners will retire to the hills of the Driftless Region.

A doe and two fawns are munching on grass at the edge of Moore Road hill. It's the part of the journey under a canopy of trees, past Cross Creek-a tree farm and up to the goat farm. Emerging from the gloom of the canopied road and deep roadside coulee, one feels like they've experienced an illuminated vision of way things are supposed to be. The Holstein at the edge of the pasture stares complacently, jaws moving in slow motion.

There's one van in the drive on Strawberry Lane next to the white covered strawberry stand. More jams and pickles are lined up on pine shelves. The table is, again, covered with quarts of fresh picked strawberries. Titus is on his way to light a fire in preparation for butchering chickens. I ask, "Is it all right to photograph an Amish dog?" Titus replies with his own question. "What's the difference between an Amish dog and an English dog?" I think for a moment before Titus fills in with, "One's a bulldog and the other a collie." Buddy poses for me on the gravel drive between the workshop and other outbuildings. Titus asks, " Can I read the story about Buddy when you're finished?" I reply in the affirmative.

I'd already shown Titus pictures stored in the digital camera's memory. The first picture-the prize winning strawberry-is followed by pictures of two strawberries on my college diploma, a photo of a cardboard tray full of berries, and a picture of yesterdays crop on the white table top outside my garage arranged to spell the word of the day. I don't plan well. The last part-an R followed by a Y won't fit. STRAWBER is all that will fit on the table. A brief discussion follows about the worth of the college diploma, being retired, Political Science(my major) and the funny twists and turns of life.

I ask Titus' wife for sugar. Dawn notes that Sure Jell is pectin and citric acid. I make sure the pectin they sell in bulk will duplicate the results of the store bought variety. I'm assured it will, so I convert cups to pounds and ask for an additional 5 lbs. of sugar. They have farmer eggs back in stock. I grab a pint of sweet pickles as a line of cars pulls up to the farmstand. The last thing to complete is the rest of our order for berries. Titus' wife pulls out a damp notebook and changes my four quart, final order to two on Friday. I'll be back in two days for baked goods and more eggs. A man asks for berries and is told that all the currently picked fruit are spoken for. To add to his look of disappointment, I tell him, "I'll sell you mine," and laugh. He's not amused and mutters, "Yeah at twice the price."

The Pooch greets meet warmly when I return. He's been stalking birds in the weeds so his fur has the fashionable, wet, spiky look. Before I left for the Amish farm, he came in to finish his breakfast. He had to settle for dry food since I forget to remove the clear glass cover over fresh chicken livers. He heads for the rest of his breakfast after I remove the plate. Afterward, he climbs in the window of the rear entry to watch the hummingbirds. The buzz of their wings and the sight of a live, a real bird a foot from his nose, makes him thump his tail against the wall. Every incoming bird causes him to duck his head. He thinks that if he ducks down they won't see him. Then again, at night he hides under the bed covers at the floor level. His butt sticks out since there's not enough room, but he's convinced that as long as his head is covered, we won't see him hiding there. It works, too. If I'm in the bathroom, I'll hear Dawn shout Ouch when a paw reaches out and touches her bare foot.

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