Thursday, June 28, 2012

Minners, Polecats, Wineberries and Green Beans

A fellow with white hair leans on a walking stick and peers into Hopper Creek. I've met this smiley guy, so I take a break from running. "What are you watching?"

"Minners," says he, "not as many as they used to be. I'd leave my light burning out back to gather bugs, then bring 'em here to feed these guys. I knew exactly where two watersnakes'd be lying, over on the right under a couple rocks. They'd glide out, mouths open [he forms an "O" with his mouth] and swaller a couple minners. They're not here any more. One day, two polecats, biggest I ever seen, were lyin' there belly up [he points to the far bank], with a couple dead babies behind 'em. Now who'd do somethin' like that? They's some mighty crazy people 'round here. I used to fish every single day. Never kep' 'em, threw 'em back. Brook trout. Don't see many any more. There's a pool up thar by the cabin, used to have lots of trout. Haven't been in years. I lived in that brick house next to your'n, married to Frances 25 years. She still lives there, with her mother. She's somethin', about 90 now, still ridin' that mower with an umbrella on it. Duck and me, we used to gather up the road, the one that wanders by the Devil's Marbleyard, and drink home-made moonshine. I had a still back then. And beer. No trouble, just good fun. Another meetin' place was old man Marshall's farm. He had an old black buggy, you know the kind with the top rolls down, he loved that thing. We'd get together Sundays, drink a lil beer, and watch the college girls ride by nice and fancy. [He pretends he's holding reins and posting up and down, up and down.] 'Let's get those horses,' Marshall'd say, he loved that buggy, and we'd go tearin' after. His horse liked pullin' that thing, too. He'd stand up tall, proud-looking, in front of that buggy. I never got a DUI for driving horses. Not that I ain't been in jail. One night down in Fincastle, I called Frances and she got her dad to come for me. When he showed up to bond me, I said 'that's that, I'll never do this again.' Looking at him, I didn't want to ever see him come after me. Not that I haven't been in a couple times for other stuff."

About this time, he ambles over to his pickup. "Well, you have a good day," I say. "You, too," says he.

That was yesterday.

"I guess he didn't find out much about you," says Virginia.

Many blog visitors seem to be interested in two things this time of year -- wineberries and freezing green beans. This is a banner year for wineberries, thick as can be on our mountain. In 4 trips I've picked about 13 gallons, more to come. I made juice with the third picking because a shortage of jelly bags had maxed out Karen's winemaking capacity. She says she wants us many as I can find, so I'll keep picking. For hints on using wineberries, click on "Wineberries" on the right, under Labels. Some day maybe I'll show how to make juice: add water to cover, simmer about 10 minutes, mash, strain through a jelly bag or cheesecloth in a colander (not a flimsy plastic one), add sugar to taste, bring to simmer again, put in jars, then can in a water bath (30 minutes boiling for quarts).

A flag's waving for green beans, too. I've been picking them small, so each time I go out they seem to be making fun of me by ripening faster. I've stir-fried and frozen 6 gallons so far. For instructions on freezing green beans, my most popular blog posting ever, click on "Freezing Vegetables" on the right, under Labels, and go to June 3, 2011, "How to Freeze Green Beans and Sugar Snap Peas."


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