Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pickle Me

Ickle was captain, and Pickle was crew.
And Tickle served coffee and mulligan stew

Shel Silverstein captured imagination of children back in 1974 with Where the Sidewalk Ends. To this day, I can't mention pickles without this verse rattling around in my sometimes rhyming brain.

"You smell like pickles," my daughter said to Sydney after school yesterday. Of course, she did. A few minutes earlier I heard the sound of the pickle jar opening. I knew the sound from experience.

Pickles. Jars sat on the shelf in the fruit room. Over the winter months, the ball jars of canned pickles would diminish until the next season of pickles was picked. Each time a jar was taken from the shelf, summer would be revisited.

Mom's pickles were okay. She worked hard to can food for our winter months. She took a small budget and fed her family well with foods full of vitamins. I imagine she didn't know a time when she hadn't canned. It was what we did on the farm. But canning time took me down Neff Road to Margaret's kitchen. I never told Mom, but Margaret was the pickle champ.

It's strange the foods you remember from childhood. The scents, the tastes, the memories they trigger. I remember the hot kitchen with the canning kettles puffing steam. Tomatoes, pickles, beets all found their way to the canner. In the old backroom, jars were set to cool. Canning equipment sat waiting a turn. Life for a small piece of time revolved around canning.

Wish I had a jar of Margaret's pickles and Mom's beets. No labels gave out calories or ingredients. But then, no label could have explained the love or memories sealed in each jar.

"Pam, go down to the fruit room and get a jar of pickles," Mom often said. Oh, how I would love to hear those words again. Instead I chuckle at the sound of a jar lid closing and a girl smelling of pickles.

As higher
And higher
And higher they few,
Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too.

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