Friday, September 23, 2011

Wild Cooking!

There’s a new blog for all my chow-lovin’ friends to look at! “Woods to Food” follows on the trail blazed by blogger Julie Powell in her famous “Julie/Julia Project,” and other cookbook-guided blogs like “Nose to Tail at Home,” “French Laundry at Home,” and the sadly disappeared “Georgia on My Thighs.” (That last one was going to be based on a Paula Deen cookbook; wonder what happened to it?)

But in “Woods to Food,” bloggers Fred and Ann Koenig aren’t grabbing headlines by challenging themselves to cook their way through some big TV-celebrity chef’s national best-selling cookbook—instead, they’re going native, going local, and that’s why their project is so very, very cool!

They’re not just going to talk about making the recipes; they will also tell the stories of hunting, fishing, and foraging the comestibles their dinner comprises!

The cookbook upon which this blog is based is a new (2011) publication by the Missouri Department of Conservation, Cooking Wild in Missouri: Savoring the Show-Me State’s Game, Fish, Nuts, Fruits, and Mushrooms, by Bernadette Dryden. Dryden recently retired from the publications branch of the MDC, and for years she’s been a leader of the local “Katy Trail” chapter of Slow Foods, not to mention a true Queen of the Kitchen.

(Look, I’m not putting in all these hyperlinks for my health: Check them out!)

Have you been holed up in a little cabin for several months, and the letter carrier’s not delivering your free copies of the Missouri Conservationist? Well, let me fill you in. Cooking Wild is a wild foods cookbook for twenty-first-century America. Yep, it uses foods that were hunted, hooked, or plucked from our own Missouri landscapes, but it approaches them with a global palate and an eclectic pantry. You might need to head to St. Louis for some of the ingredients, even if you only need to go as far as the back forty for the entrĂ©es themselves.

Here are some of the recipes, to give you an idea of the level of “foodiness” we’re talking about:
  • Moroccan spice-braised venison
  • Pawpaw frozen yogurt gelato
  • Cioppino, made with bluegill and largemouth bass, shrimp and mussels, and, optional, crayfish (some of this seafood isn’t quite local!)
  • Bass-and-crappie spring rolls
  • Papassinos, made using pecans or hickory nuts (What are papassinos? Well, get the book and find out!)
There are plenty of less “exotic” dishes, such as “wild turkey dropped-biscuit pie,” but throughout, the emphasis is on an elevated, sophisticated cuisine—which of course is incredibly popular right now.

Now, when you go to buy yourself a copy of Cooking Wild in Missouri, you might find yourself confronted with a choice, because there’s an excellent chance that right there next to Dryden’s two-hundred-page, full-color volume will be a humble copy of Cy Littlebee’s Guide to Cooking Fish and Game. Written by Werner O. Nagel, who was also a longtime MDC employee, this cookbook, like Dryden’s, is published by the Missouri Department of Conservation. (Actually, it was the “Missouri Conservation Commission” back in 1960 when it first came out—it’s now in its seventeenth printing!)

Nagel’s book has certainly stood the test of time. “Cy Littlebee” isn’t exactly an “author”; he was a character Nagel invented to represent an ordinary, down-home, rural Missourian, and the Conservationist used to carry his entertaining columns as a regular feature. You don’t see much written these days in Ozark vernacular (as opposed to garden-variety “Suth’un”), so it’s a treat to bathe in the grammar and cadences of old-time Missouri dialect.

“Cy” apparently was well-known in his day, but I suppose Missourians have mostly forgotten him now. (Pity.)

Here is a sample of the writing style, from the section on cooking rabbit: “You take a state where from four to six million rabbits is eat in a year, not counting tame rabbits nor any shipped in, and all you can figger is that either a lot of folks likes some rabbit, or some folks like lots of rabbit” (p. 30). (I’ll bet Nagel and Vance Randolph knew a lot of the same people!)

The Littlebee cookbook represents a base camp for cooking wild foods; its recipes, hardly changed since settler days, were certainly passed down from farmwife to daughter to granddaughter, from hunter to son to grandson. This small volume presents many recipes by women (yeah, mostly women) who sent in their best wild-game dishes. These are “good- ol’” recipes, like “baked rabbit,” “fried groundhog,” and that venerable southern favorite, “opossum and sweet potatoes.” Naturally there are a lot of venison recipes, but there’s even a recipe for skunk!

So which book do you get? Do you get the one that represents a rich tradition, our true, elemental, cultural roots, the simple cuisine endemic to our nation and our region? Or do you get the exciting, fresh, globally inspired cookbook that “figgers” the sky’s the limit? Decisions, decisions!

Well, fortunately, the answer is simple: You buy both! Dryden’s volume sells for $15, and Nagel’s little chestnut is just $3.50 a copy. So you can get both for under twenty bucks.

And then, when you have the other kind of “bucks,” then you’ll know how to fix them!

Meanwhile, let’s stay tuned to the Koenigs’ cooking adventure!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What Does Queen Anne’s Lace Look Like in the Fall?

This fall, I’ve been especially enjoying the dried, curling umbels of Queen Anne’s lace, and literature has helped.

You know Queen Anne’s lace—it’s a long-ago invader from Europe that’s now a common wildflower. Also called “wild carrot,” it is indeed in the carrot-parsnip-parsley-fennel-dill-anise-celery-caraway-coriander-cumin family, the Apiaceae, which used to be called the Umbelliferae (for its type of flower cluster, called an umbel, which has the same root as our word umbrella). I’ve written about the Apiaceae before—remember pretty little harbinger of spring?

Anyway, it should come as no surprise to you that I’ve already begun reading the third of Edwin Way Teale’s “American Seasons” volumes, Autumn across America. (Click here for my posts on Teale, including the spring and summer volumes.)

At the beginning of the third chapter, he quite poetically describes the look of Queen Anne’s lace in the fall: “Now along that road Queen Anne’s lace was going to seed, balling up like fingers closing into a fist.” Here, and in so many places in his writings, you can tell he had studied the great poets of our language—indeed, his bachelor’s degree was in English, and he had apparently taught that subject at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas.

“Balling up like fingers closing into a fist.” What a great metaphor! I think I would have characterized them as delicate little baskets full of sticktights!

At the end of chapter 8, Teale reveals a moment of “autumn sadness”; he has been quietly watching migrating plovers over a pond that he recalled from his youth:

Perhaps it was a plaintive recurring note in the killdeer’s call. . . . Perhaps it was the faraway, lonely, nostalgic sound of the train whistle. Perhaps it was the singing of the September insects, that dry orchestral music that carries like an overtone the thought of swiftly passing life. Perhaps it was compounded of all of them—this wave of autumn sadness that enveloped me.

In a day, a week, a month at most, the plovers would move on. . . . And nature—absorbed with species and averages, not with individuals—cares but little whether these birds return again. All the insects singing in the grass, all the leaves still spread to the sunshine, all the dusty annuals and the waning flowers—they were all living their last days and the end was moving swiftly toward them. Life would come again in the spring—but not this life, not to these flowers, not to these leaves, not to these crickets and grasshoppers.

(Fortunately, Teale soon witnesses something that, upon reflection, offered an antidote to his melancholy.)

. . . And then, ohh, I was recently feeling all artsy-fartsy while sitting at a fashionable Columbia coffee shop reading poetry from a book that I got for free. It was free because of a shipping accident. (When poetry comes to you like that, out of the blue, you’d better read it, because you were probably meant to have it.)

And so, because I got it for free, I’m going to share a poem out of it for free (at least, until someone tells me to get it the hell off my website, since I haven’t sought permission). (But maybe this counts as a review of sorts, and a glowing one at that, so perhaps my treachery will be forgiven.)

The book is called Inverted Fire, and the poet is Alice Friman. She was born in New York but is lucky enough to have lived in the Midwest! The volume was published in 1997 by BkMk Press of the University of Missouri–Kansas City, and I strongly recommend finding a copy for yourself. Alice Friman’s website is here. She is quite accomplished; her ninth poetry collection is being published this year. I love her poems.

More than a few poems in Inverted Fire are about autumn, and naturally that reminds me of a friend of mine who died last year, who was herself a gifted, accomplished poet, and she loved autumn the best.

This poem is on page 13 of Inverted Fire. It’s delicately unified in a circular pattern reminiscent of the flowering, seeding umbel itself, and the images are carefully interwoven, like the lacy patterns of the flower. When you read it, you’ll quickly understand why I’ve been thinking so much about Queen Anne’s lace this fall, for you see I, too, was born in the autumn, and I share the poet’s view that one’s season of birth influences one’s perspective . . .

Letter to the Children

In the new cold of late September
the prongs of Queen Anne’s lace that held
their doilies up like jewels
rise then stiffen, crushing toward center,
making wooden enclosures to die in
like the ones the Celts built to hold their enemies
then set aflame. The goldenrod leans,
licks at their cages. And all that’s left of daisies
are burnt-out eyes.

I walk these back fields
past the swish of cattails in their silver
grasses, the old ones
showing the woolly lining of their suede jackets
while the thistle, dried to gray,
bends her trembling head
and spills her seed.

It is the time—the great lying-in of Autumn—
and I am walking its wards.
And I remember it was now, late September
then on into the deep gully of fall—when the hackberry
groans and the black oak strains in its sockets, the winds
pushing in the long forest corridors—
that I too was born and gave birth.

And you are all Autumn’s children, all
given to sadness amid great stirrings
for you were rocked to sleep in the knowledge
of loss and saw in the reflection outside your window,
beyond the bars of your reach, your own face
beckoning from the burning promise
that little by little disappeared. What can I give you
for your birthdays this year, you who are the match
and the flaming jewel, whose birthright consumes itself
in the face of your desire?

(Copyright 1997 by Alice Friman)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Long-Jawed Spiders, a.k.a. Stretch Spiders--Genus Tetragnatha

I learned about a new spider recently, and I want to share it with you! (Autumn is a “spidery” time of year, isn’t it? It’s their last hurrah, before the frosts zap them like so many pretty flowers.)

As with the case of the picture-winged fly, this is one of those small arthropods that are so common and humble, I’ve never bothered to learn about them. But now I’m glad to have looked them up!

So today I’d like to introduce you to Tetragnatha! I’m pretty sure the species is T. elongata (though I’m not ruling out the similar T. extensa—apparently there’s a lot of variability in the drab coloration and patterning in both species). Also, the photos on this post show three different individual Tegragnathans, and they might not all be the same species, anyway.

Pronunciation: Do you suppose it’s pronounced TET-rag-NATH-ah, or TET-rah-NATH-ah? Gnathos is the Greek word for “jaw,” and I gather the g is silent—but then I was taught that the group of “jawless fishes” (including the lampreys), Agnatha, is pronounced “ag-NATH-ah,” with a hard g. If anyone knows how to say this, please chime in!

Some folks call these “stretch spiders,” because when at rest, or when frightened, they strike a uniquely “elongated” or “extended” pose, with the two long, skinny front legs stretched straight out before them, and the hindmost pair stretched behind. With their drab tan or gray costumes and narrow bodies, they look like an insignificant little twig or piece of grass.

The third pair of legs are shorter than the other pairs, and these are used to grasp whatever they’re resting on—a cattail blade, the underside of a dock railing, or their web.

The web is remarkable—these spiders weave orb webs, but they are not orb-weavers. Yes! They are in their own family, the Tetragnathidae, which is separate from the “official” family called the “orb-weavers,” the Araneidae. (The Araneidae famously includes two nifty spiders I’ve profiled before: the black-and-yellow garden spider, Argiope aurantia, and Micrathena gracilis, which I have dubbed the “heavy-metal spider.”)

Now, most spiders that spin orb webs (you know—those beautiful, intricate wheels of gossamer to net their prey with) make them “vertical”—they’re upright, like the wheel of your car, when it’s on your car.

Well, Tetragnatha seems to usually spin its web horizontally—parallel to the ground—like a tractor tire that’s being used as the boundary of a child’s sandbox.

But Tetragnatha’s web is not usually positioned over the ground. You’ll find their webs most often over water—lakes, ponds, streams. I see them commonly on the edges of docks, where a right-angle bend makes a nice V-shaped nook for them to build in.

Now, why in the world do they position their webs like this? Are they trying to catch jumping minnows—? No.

At this point, it’s time to talk about the life history of the mayfly! Mayflies, like many insects, undergo metamorphosis from unwinged juveniles to winged adults.

And the juveniles of mayflies (and dragonflies, too) are aquatic. Without the wings, they are odd-looking armored, legged insects with antennae-like “tails” that creep around on the bottoms of lakes and ponds, acting like “bottom feeders,” for the months and even years it takes for them to mature.

When a mayfly nymph has gone through all its juvenile molts and gotten big enough to become an adult, it floats to the surface, creeps up the stem of an emergent plant, or a stick, or the leg of a dock, and slips out of its skin (much like a cicada). What emerges is the mayfly form we’re familiar with, with wings as well as forelegs folded together like praying hands. (They oughta be praying . . .)

(Note: I’m simplifying the mayfly life history here: They actually have a subadult molt that gives them functional wings prior to the final molt as the sexually mature adult. But let’s leave that discussion for another day.)

So the mayflies say goodbye to their murky aquatic existence, crawl out of the water, and transform into their equivalent of “butterflies”—delicate insects capable of flying through the bright, clear air. It’s just like when cicadas emerge from years of living in the soil to be reborn as glorious flying, singing creatures.

But right over the spot where the mayfly’s wings are just now hardening, in the morning sun, into the machinery of flight, guess who’s cast her big hunting net? Yep. Tetragnatha. The mayfly opens its wings a few times, stretching its newly discovered flying muscles, then leaps into the air for its very first flight . . .

Now, now—don’t be crying over the mayflies! They are famously numerous, sometimes occurring in swarms. Some people absolutely despise them and the greasy mess their swarms make. In their adult form, mayflies are also famously short-lived (the name of their order is Ephemeroptera—the ephermeral insects). And anyway, if you eat meat and eggs, then you can’t talk—cows, pigs, chickens, lambs, all have more “going on upstairs” than the pin-headed mayfly.

By the way, another common name for spiders in this family is “long-jawed orb weaver.” The genus name Tetragnatha itself means “four-jawed spider”—which although literally untrue (they have just two fangs like all the other spiders), does colorfully describe the fact that the fangs are much longer than those of many other spiders!

In taking my pictures, I didn’t go so far as to harass (much less kill) any of these spiders just to show you the full extent of their unfolded fangs (chelicerae—chuh-LISS-er-ee)—but if you search the “Web” (ha ha) for pictures, you’ll find close-ups of the face, of the fangs, and even of the fangs “in action”: When a male and female Tetragnatha “get together,” they lock chelicerae. They, too, are “pin-headed.” The nice long “arms” of the fangs hold off the hungry female, preventing her from devouring the male before his “mission” is complete.

Sooooo . . . the next time you’re on a dock, or walking along the edge of a lake hunting for a nice fishin’ spot, or even taking a walk to the “island” at Columbia’s wonderful Stephens Lake Park (where many of these pictures were taken), keep an eye out for skinny little Tetragnatha, and greet her by name.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Japan Trip, September 2011

Boy, that got your attention, didn’t it!

Yesterday we went with my parents to Japan! Missouri!

Seriously, just as Missouri has a Paris, Florida, Santa Fe, and Mexico, it’s got a Japan, too. I adore Missouri’s place-names; I can’t help it. My dad’s an authority on them, and there was no avoiding my getting hooked, too.

By the way, the locals pronounce it JAY-pun, or JAY-pan . . . not jah-PAN like the nation.

The place-name of Japan, Missouri, has a fascinating history. At one point, soon after December 7, 1941, the town was in danger of losing its unusual name. I have no idea what they might have changed the name to, but you can’t blame them for having anti-Japanese feelings at that time.

But cooler heads prevailed—once it was explained that the town takes its name from the local Catholic church, and the story of the church’s namesakes was told, the town name “Japan” was retained.

So you want to hear the story, right? Of course you do! Actually, it’s pretty grim.

The full name is Church of the Holy Martyrs of Japan, and it commemorates twenty-six priests and fellow Christians who were crucified in Nagasaki, Japan, on February 5, 1597. (The feast day for these martyrs is February 6.) The men were killed as part of an effort to wipe out Christianity in Japan, which largely succeeded over the following three centuries.

The martyrs represented a variety of ethnicities, including Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese. Thus in this story Japanese people are both persecutors and martyrs. And this is why the place-name was kept, even after the attack of Pearl Harbor.

At the back of the church is a mural depicting the scene of their crucifixion (see photos above), as well as other materials about the history of Christianity in Japan; the Our Father written in Japanese, for instance, and an explanation of what a “fumie” is: “A likeness of Jesus or Mary upon which . . . suspected Christians [were required] to step . . . in order to prove that they were not members of that outlawed religion.” This test of faith was used from 1629 until 1856 and possibly even later, according to a sign in the church.

The exterior of the church isn’t terribly remarkable; with its white clapboard siding and simple shape, it could be any number of churches around here, including Protestant ones.

There is a little shrine or grotto, and that kind of marks it as Catholic.

There are some beautiful big pine trees next to the church, which I thought was nicely evocative of Japan and its cultural aesthetics.

And the interior of the church is quite distinctive. The first thing you notice is the color yellow! Lots and lots of yellow. All the side windows are yellow stained glass, so all the light pouring into the church—except for a bluish rose window high above the altar—is yellow.

Even the bell-ringin’ ropes up in the choir loft are bathed in yellow.

The slogan for this parish seems to be “God’s grace in a country place.” And country it is, indeed. Here’s the view looking out from the front of this church:

Well, by now you might be thinking of visiting Japan, yourself, even though it doesn’t have any decent sushi restaurants. (Actually, I don’t think there are any restaurants there at all!)

So here’s how to get to Japan: It’s in southwestern Franklin County. Take I-44 between Sullivan and Cuba (Cuba, Missouri: that’s a whole ’nother story!). Between those towns is a little burg called Bourbon (yes, Bourbon, Missouri), and just east of Bourbon, you need to take Highway J north. (By the way, you can’t exit directly off of I-44 to Highway J—you have to get off on an access road, or do like we did: Skip I-44 and travel instead on old Route 66, which is more fun anyway.)

Anyway, from Bourbon, go north/northwest on Highway J (J for “Japan,” huh?) until you reach Highway H; veer left a little ways on that, then turn left onto Highway AE, and the Church of the Holy Martyrs of Japan will be on the left.

Or, if you’d rather get to it from Highway 50, you could go south on Highway H from Gerald, which takes you through the town of Strain . . . but hey, I don’t want to confuse you with all these crazy place-names!


Thanks once again to Sue, for sharing some photos with me: two gloriously color-corrected interior shots, plus the one of the full mural. My blog would look really junky without her awesome images.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Mystery Couple--Identified!

Hey, folks, the Internet has been very, very nifty this week! You know my recent post about those two old pictures from my parents’ slide collection? (Here’s the link.)

A review of the story: My dad was walking around in Westphalia with a group of graduate students, surveying the German elements of the town, and by chance they saw a newlywed couple riding out of the church’s lot, not in a limousine, but on the back of a manure wagon, pulled by a farm tractor. (If you saw such a thing, you’d take a picture, too!)

I’d never heard of this strange custom, so I posted it on my blog, figuring someone could help explain it.

I also figured that it wouldn’t be long before someone would identify the couple for me, since we knew the place and the year (Westphalia, 1964), and, judging by the trees, that it was around the middle of October.

And sure enough! You all delivered, and the couple was identified! Elmer and Rita Bax—and they’re still in Westphalia!

So naturally, it made my day when I received the following message from Rita herself:

My sister sent me an e-mail from Albuquerque, New Mexico, showing me the [blog] “Spreading Joy in Westphalia, Missouri.” Yes it is Elmer and Rita Bax.

We were married October 17, 1964. It was 90 degrees that day. I was raised on a farm. So the manure wagon and tractor was our ride from the church to the K of C hall down the street. The hall is now Hilke Millard Funeral Home.

We live in Westphalia [and] . . . I will be cutting pies at the fall supper like you said.

I laughed when I saw the pictures. I had forgotten about the ride. I passed the information to our five boys so they could enjoy it too.

Our neighbor Paul Crede was driving the tractor. I called him so he could see it. I was 18 years old when I got married. Elmer was 22.

I will be reading your Opulent Opossum in the future. We enjoyed the pictures and article. . . .

Thank you for the memories.

Elmer and Rita

Well, there’s nothing much I can add to that, except that I’m definitely going to the Westphalia fall supper so I can meet the Baxes!

(And enjoy some of that pie Rita will be slicing!)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Salem UCC Annual Ice Cream Social

“An annual ice-cream social brings friends and former members from many communities for an evening of fellowship and fun.”

Moniteau County Missouri History, vol. 1 (1980)

Well, my friends, that statement in a county history book hardly begins to describe the scene on August 27, 2011, at a plain white church on Route K southeast of California, Missouri.

We went there with my folks and met up with cousins and my aunt and uncle, so we all arrived early in order to sit together. This meant we got to watch as carloads of people gradually arrived and each picnic table was filled. Here at this country church, we witnessed the true meaning of “gathering.” There is no “town” here, but there is definitely community.

A little about the history of the Salem United Church of Christ: the congregation was started in 1848 by a group of German immigrant families who gathered to worship even before their own homes were completely built.

They called their church the “North Moreau Evangelical Church.” As with many other German Evangelical churches in Missouri, they are now merged with the Reformed churches, the Congregational churches, and others to form the United Church of Christ (UCC).

Until 1889, the Salem Church shared its pastor with the congregation in California. By 1922, with the latter town’s growth, the shared pastor was based in California and supplied Salem, an arrangement that still exists today.

I think it’s pretty safe to conceptualize the early German Evangelical churches as being stripped-down Protestant churches for German-speaking immigrants. In other words, being Protestant, they shrugged off the trappings and hierarchies of Catholicism, but they also declined the regulations and expectations of the Lutheran Church, as well. What was left for Protestant Germans? In the American Midwest, one answer was “simple churches like this one.”

After seeing the gloriously decorated interiors of this region’s Catholic churches, the simplicity of the Salem Church is astonishing. The sanctuary is functional: There are pews, hymnals, and Bibles. There’s an altar, a pulpit, and a place for the minister to sit. The altar bears a cross, a few candles, and trays for offerings and/or communion. There’s a piano and a few other tables, decorated nicely, but not lavishly.

My dad (who knows much, much more about this stuff than I do) pointed out that the framed pictures of Jesus were probably not present in the early years of the church—again, out of a desire for simplicity.

And yet there is a great deal of meaning in these objects; this is a congregation that treasures its long history, and the church’s material possessions hold significance for those who know that history. For instance, the antique chandeliers in the sanctuary are the old kerosene chandeliers that have been renovated and converted to electricity. And the pews! In 1947, each family cut and donated logs that were made into the pews—a wonderful project for the congregation’s centennial in 1948.

So these aren’t “just” lights; these aren’t “just” pews. They represent history and continuity.

And as with many, many little white-painted country churches, the cemetery is right by the church, clearly visible out the windows as you sit in the pews. There are big old trees; there are tombstones with dates from the 1700s.

It’s always a fascinating and sobering thing to wander around in cemeteries like this and piece together family relationships and family tragedies.

There’s so much history here. I could go on, for instance, about how the original log church still stands right next door, was used as a German school, and now is a storage and multipurpose space for the church—but I’ll let you learn about that for yourself sometime. We need to move on to the ice cream!

Actually, it was much more than ice cream. There was enough food there to make a light dinner. They served brats and hot dogs (with all the trimmings); chicken salad sandwiches; and ham sandwiches made with locally made Burger’s ham. There were chips and sodas and ice tea, paper plates and plastic cutlery.

The trays intrigued me—they were from all over the place. They were old and mismatched, clearly donated. Some are no doubt collector’s items that would bring twenty bucks apiece on eBay. And it was really fun to eat off a tray that had originally come from Marineland of the Pacific (of all places). Sue’s tray celebrated the glorious state of North Dakota—someone decades ago must have donated a complete series of all 48 U.S. states!

You might be wondering why I’m not showing you pictures of ice cream, but it should be obvious: You just don’t sit around and photograph homemade ice cream; you eat it!

Indeed, as we went through the line, my cousin David looked askance at me as I added a few multicolored sprinkles to my ice cream: “How can you even think of putting toppings on homemade ice cream??”

He had a point. But I kind of wondered why there should be a “rule” about it. Do we need catechizing over ice cream toppings? . . . But then I was raised in a UCC church and he’s a Lutheran, and maybe that’s the difference right there! We laughed about it; variety is the spice of life!

And that’s the point of all this gathering and celebrating, isn’t it? We get together to share fellowship and fun, enjoying the fact that some of us like sprinkles or chocolate syrup on our ice cream, and some of us just came for the bratwurst with kraut.

And even if some of us are part of an extended family-and-friends network while others are new-friends-we-just-hadn’t-met-before, who have never even driven down Route K . . . we’re all welcome to share in the fun of the cakewalk.

Hey: In reading about this church, I learned that “Christmas programs have been omitted only twice—once during the Civil War, the other during the 1918 flu epidemic” (ibid.). Something tells me this church’s Christmas program would be well worth attending! Meanwhile, I think you can depend on the ice cream social taking place each year on the fourth Saturday of August! Plug it into your calendar now, so you won’t miss it next year.

A big thank-you to Uncle Richard and Aunt Carole, who knew about this event and invited us all to attend. They also gave me some pages photocopied from Moniteau County history books—to help with this post, which they correctly anticipated I might want to write!

Another thank-you to Sue, for sharing her photos with me. The good ones in this post are hers; the so-so ones are mine!

Thanks, especially, to our family members who joined us at Salem Church. You know what Grandma S. would say: “The more we get together, the happier we’ll be!”