by Mike Nelson

It's almost spring! Spring, when the world, as I understand it, is puddlewonderful, and, to the best of my knowledge, the little lame balloon man whistles far and wee. It always puts me in mind of my springs spent in New Richmond, Wisconsin, my family and I scraping the mud off our shoes, hats, backs and from between our toes. Getting the layers of caked-on mud off the cows, tractors and fetal pigs. Farmers love spring, because it means more work. Time spent alone and sullen, when the whack of your scoop shovel against the hindquarters of a Guernsey is all the therapy you need. And the smells of spring! Whey and silage mix with the odors of offal and large, mean stock animals. Even your own smell comes into its own. Blossoms, if you will.

Spring means food, as well. Things are fatted and "put down," sawed into pieces convenient for stewing or boiling. There are "rashers" of things, items are pickled and "put by," and children delight in the flavor of freshly pulled taffy, the excess of which is made into head gaskets for the several old Ford tractors that litter the back forty. My mother used to make something she called "stomperjack biscuits," originally enjoyed by grizzled, New Richmond twine makers. Though memory fades, I believe the ingredients are flour, salt peter, rock salt, flour, and salt. Bake them for a while and enjoy a New Richmond original!

I'm stuck on a Satellite this year, but a large percentage of you aren't! Get out and enjoy spring! Go!

[posted 3/98]

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