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August 30, 2011: Speaking at Geese

August 30, 2011

Lisa's Salad

Yesterday, I had a very enjoyable visit from my good friend Lisa, and her 5 year old son, Harry. Lisa remembered the fantastic candy shop a few miles from my house and she wanted to show it to Harry.

There is a pretty gazebo along the river, near the shop that I wanted to show Lisa. As we pulled into a parking space close to it and before we could exit the car, we were swarmed by a gaggle of geese and a flock of ducks. You could tell these guys were spoiled rotten by visitors and you could almost see them asking “Bread? Bread?” with their squawking, as they streamed towards the car.  With only candy on our mind we had forgotten sufficient bribes for a swarm of hungry aquatic fowl. As I’ve had some experiences with the irritable nature of geese on my runs, I thought I had a good solution: I picked up a phragmite from a field and started brushing it slowly in front of us as we went along. This worked well as the flock calmly scooted ahead of us so that we could reach the gazebo. The view from the gazebo revealed even more geese, ducks and the odd seagull between the gazebo and the river. Never ones to waste a captive audience, we proceeded to present a lecture of utter nonsense:

‘The time has come, to talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax —
Of cabbages — and kings –“
Although the heckling was at a minimum, I got the distinct sense that the audience thought they could skip the circus and go right for the bread.

Then it was on to the candy shop. Now, you’ve all seen candy shops, but not like this one. This place is as if  Willy Wonka and the owners of Honeydukes from Harry Potter got together and designed a shop after an all-night Redbull bender! These guys have everything! I mean: EV-ER-Y THING! All the classics I remember: Pixie-stix, Mary Janes, Wax Lips, Root Beer Barrels, as well my particular (and admittedly odd) fave: the orange sponge-candy peanut. For some reason, I seem to be the only person in the world who likes these things. They also had all the new candies, fudge choices galore, custom bon-bons…the works! As a test, I asked the owner if she had horehound. Now, if you’ve never heard of horehound, don’t fret, most people haven’t heard of it, let alone actually tasted it…and you probably wouldn’t like it anyways. It’s one of those “old” candies that was big in my granddads’ day, and you don’t find much anymore. It’s tastes as if you had crystalized Dr. Pepper into hard candy.  Well, they had horehound! The oddest things were the novelties: giant gummy rats for Halloween and gumballs so big I wondered how it was possible that anyone could eat them! To add a touch of weirdness to the whole experience, their power was still out from Irene, but they gave a lantern to little Harry so he could pick out his M&Ms from every color of the rainbow!

We also tried the colonial shop next door but after two minutes Harry announced that it was “BOOORRRING,” so it was on to soccer on the green down at the mill. Harry, that little rascal (once he got the idea to kick it where I was NOT) scored on me twice while his mom rested on the rock by the cool stream coming from the mill. At lunch, I found out what a little charmer Harry actually is. In no time, he had totally won over our pretty, sloe-eyed waitress with his flirting, and she flirted back as they played Harry’s game of “spy.” I experienced just the slightest twinge of jealousy at Harry’s natural skill and ease, as it brought to mind one of Dickens’ quotes from a “Christmas Carol:”

           “I should have liked, I do confess, to have had the lightest license of a child, and yet to have been man enough to know its value. …”

Lisa was then kind enough to take me shopping to fill up my rapidly depleting larder stores. She had also brought with her a huge supply of Asian foodstuffs. It was then on to the beach, and it was here I had found my Achilles heel: floaties. Yes, floaties are my Kryptonite. With all my running, sprinting and kayaking Lisa could blow up a 2′ floaty four times faster than I (and honestly, I eventually had to give up!) But, while Harry splashed and made sand castles, I could find the home for the friendly stray sheepdog that suddenly appeared on the beach, trailing its tow line.

After the beach, I made a salad from the stuff Lisa brought while Lisa and Harry played “Chutes & Ladders” and “Pigmania.” I asked Lisa what she had in mind for a dressing for the salad and she described one that was very similar to something I have made before, so I will just refer you to the dressing from my article  July 16, 2011: Spinach-Noodle Salad For the salad we had Romaine and Arugula salad as a base, topped with sliced pepper, avocado, fried tofu, and fresh tomatoes from Harry’s garden. Lisa brought a topping I’ve never seen before, called wakame chazuke which is a mixture of small pieces of wakame (a Japanese dried seaweed) and miniature riceballs. With this, the dressing, and also topped with toasted sesame, it really made for a unique and tasty salad.

Harry, the finicky eater that he is, would try none of the salad, of course, but as he was leaving I got him to try one of the orange sponge-candy peanuts and he loved it! Ahhh! Maybe candy peanuts will not go the way of horehound, after all!

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4 comments

  1. We had a great time, thank you, Steve! Check out the candy store at http://www.waysidecountrystore.com/


  2. sounds like a wonderful time and a yummy salad. and i miss you and lisa both


  3. Very well written story that links childhood memories of taste and choices with glorious food. Thank you Steve for telling such wonderful stories!


  4. Major ditto! Great work here, Steve!



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