Saturday, November 04, 2006

Tales of a Young Man

Ahhh...Fall. The time I miss most in New England. The crisp air, the smell of leaves, the hearty food my Mom used to make, Mc Intosh apples fresh from the tree, the harvest moon and cider from Mr. Wiser's ancient press.

It's a seasonal event that every country boy in New Hampshire remembers and smiles about. The harvest pretty much stocked up the root cellar with buttercup and Hubbard squash, onions, carrots and canned items that we made during the Summer. Piccalilli, bread and butter pickles, hot dog relish, pickled watermelon rind, and strawberry jam awaited us in the dead of winter, like rays of sunshine in jars. Last, but not least,beans, 5 gallon buckets full of dried kidney and pea beans, which every household baked for Saturday night's supper. I'm surprised that there was not a hole in the ozone layer with all the beans we consumed!

Fall is also the time when our pig was nice and plump. Dad fed him quite well on a hearty stew of apples, acorns and corn meal. So much so that the pork faintly tasted of apples when cooked. We all waited in anticipation for the arrival of the hams and bacon from the smoke house down in Canterbury...the best you have ever had, smoked over corn cobs and white oak or maple. My Dad and I would bring them into the house and just admire their handiwork as we got them ready for the freezer. They looked like they were sculpted out of mahogany.

What was left over from the pig (we never named him) were chops, roasts and sausage meat, neatly packaged for the freezer. We even used to make our own salt pork in 10 gallon crocks, which is necessary for baked beans. The "old timers" used to fry up salt pork and serve it with cream gravy and buttered bread! Try that now and they will name a cardiac unit after you.

Have any of you been to central New Hampshire before? We have a very distinct accent which sounds like Down East Maine, not Boston! But, I digress. I'll tell you a story from my childhood written in the way we speak up there.

Well, theya wuz a fahmah who lived down th' road a piece named Bud Wyzah who had a faahm. Ya know th' type...cows, hosses and grew cawn in th' summah. He also made sweet and haahd cidah frum his apple awchahd, 'bout 50 galluns each! Bud, bein' an old tymah, found nuthin' wrong with sellin' that haahd cidah to the local boys at a dollah a gallun. By Jeezum, we picked up a gallun a piece, an' staahted drinkin'...we wuh wicked hammahed by th' end of th' night. In the mawnin, my mouth felt like th' flowah of a chicken coop. Whut I din know that th' wahst was 'bout to come. I looked down at muh belly and it looked like I had swallahed a bowlin' bawl...a small faaht came out, then, I knew I wuz in trouble. I sprinted tuh th' crappah and set down just in time. Everythin' that was in came out includin' a french fry from 1966. I had th' trots for three days straight, lost 'bout 6 pounds, ayup.

The next time I saw Bud, he asked how I liked the cidah and laughed so haahd, his false teeth damn neeah fell out . He had been playin' that game with teen agaahs faw twenny yeahs at least, he said. When Bud made cidah, he nevah filtahd it 'tal. Chunks a' apple an' ground skin waah in the cidah. I think ya git th' pichah.

Bud passed away back in 1977 and with him died a yearly joke he played for two generations. I still make it a point to buy New England cider each and every Fall and always chuckle a bit as I think of that time. Of course, now you pay out the ass for cider, but, back then, we did too.

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