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home : columnists and contributors : columnists and contributors April 29, 2016

7/10/2013 12:01:00 AM
Harbor Springs...Now and Then
Cynthia Morse Zumbaugh

Isn't it strange how some foods and drinks are seasonal, at least in our minds? People drink coffee all year round, but hot chocolate seems to be reserved for the winter. Lemonade is a go-to in the summer months, but most people don't think of drinking it in February. Burgers and brats, potato salad and watermelon; those foods traditionally scream summertime.

Not only the season, but the surroundings can dictate what sounds good to eat. I can't go to the county fair without eating cotton candy but I can't imagine wanting to eat whipped sugar in any other setting. Unless I am at an event, be it a ball game, a race or a picnic, I never eat hot dogs but I can't resist them when I am in those situations; they taste so much better when sold by a vendor. Popcorn is only a temptation at the movie theater or a sporting event and at least one time per summer, I have to break down and buy fudge and an ice cream cone. It wouldn't feel like a complete summer without it.

One of my favorite foods growing up was what my mother aptly referred to as "peas and potatoes." She would dig up some young potatoes and some freshly picked peas from the garden and serve them in a thick, white sauce. This preparation probably completely negated any nutritional value, but they were so good that we didn't care. If I had realized how simple this dish was to prepare, I would have done it earlier, but last year I did replicate it; it's amazing how the taste of something can take you back in time.

A benefit of living in the country was the ability to find truly yummy taste sensations literally in your own backyard. I remember going out as a child and eating wild strawberries until I thought I would burst. They are so small that they really can't be used in cooking; it would take forever to gather enough of them to make a pie, but just to sit in the green grass and eat to your heart's content was heavenly. They were perfect and their flavor is so much sweeter than the larger berries.

Once the strawberries were gone, the raspberries came into season and they are plentiful everywhere in the country, as are the blackberries that follow. Another favorite was the rhubarb that grew all around the garden; we would take a little sugar and dip the stalks in it, made a perfect sweet snack for the afternoon. We had apple and pear trees in the yard and that was a double treat; apple trees are the best for climbing, so getting the snack was as much fun as eating it.

It wasn't all fruits and berries. For a change of taste sensation, there was always wild leeks in the woods, we just picked and chewed the leaves. There as another plant, my mother called it the "belly button plant" but I don't know what the actually name is. It grows low to the ground and eventually has little white flowers, but the plant bears little round green fruit that we used to pick and eat. Like the wild strawberries, they were so small you couldn't fill up on them, but they were a fun little munch.

My brother Ken tells me that they also used to use the sap from cherry trees as gum; I don't remember ever doing that. He also admitted that he and Dan Warner used to smoke corn silk out behind the barn or wherever they wouldn't be spotted; I can honestly say I never did that, but those two also cooked and tried to eat a barn swallow. I'm not sure if I chalk that up to inventiveness or boredom.

And thinking about the old neighborhood makes me a little sadder this week as we mourn the loss of Alford LaCount. Alford was his own person and he lived life his own way, but he always took the time to wave or to smile. I will miss seeing his truck crawling along State Rd or running into him at the IGA or Points North and we send our condolences to his sister, Ada.

We're only a couple weeks away from the All-Alumni Reunion and I urge you to help get the word out, especially encouraging some of the teachers that we all remember fondly to join us. It is July 27th at the Center Township Hall and please feel free to contact me for more information.

This week we need to send out some Anniversary congratulations to Patty and Ed Ballou and Ben and Molly Veling; both couples will be celebrating on July 17th. Also, Sophy Carpenter celebrated her birthday on July 1st and if my calculations are correct, it would have been her 90th. Congratulations to Sophy, hope your day was outstanding.

Now on to some new birthday wishes, beginning on July 11th to Ruthie O'Neill, Jackson Wells, Michael Owen and my own Jasmine Smith who will be celebrating her sweet sixteen. On Saturday, July 13th, Happy Birthday to Deb Coors and to Lorna Thrush and on July 14th to Garett Paige, Wendy Matthews and Paige Ranney. On Monday, July 15th, Happy Birthday to Lana Hamlin Tomkins and on the 16th to Catherynn Spierling, Chris Johnson and Mike Simkins. Finally on July 17th, we send birthday wishes to Will Baker, Jon Werden, Carolyn Kalbfleisch and Kristie Blanck Dickinson.

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