Wednesday, May 14, 2008

When I bite into a York Peppermint Pattie

I get the sensation.

It's a well-known fact that peppermint patties are my candy of choice. And why wouldn't they be? Refreshing mint -- which actually is a necessity after some meals -- enrobed in chocolate. In recent years, York Peppermint Patties have also been shown (on their packaging, at least) to be "a lowfat food" and "dark chocolate covered," which certainly gives them a couple more points in my book.

After a lifetime of loving peppermint patties, the candy now has for me associations of memory and emotions that even further endear me to it.

When I was a kid, Hershey Foods (which unfortunately does own York) ran these amazingly cheesy, yet evocative, commercials along the theme of "When I bite into a York Peppermint Pattie, I get the sensation," featuring normal, everyday people who get the sensation of skiing in the Alps just from a piece of minty chocolate (even though they're actually just standing on their coffee table, pretending to feel the rush of an Alpine avalanche).

My grandma apparently shares my love of peppermint patties -- or at least, the commercials -- and I will never forget her impersonation of that commercial. Yes, she did jump up on the coffee table, and yes, we worried about her mental and physical health. But oh, did we ever laugh.

For my bridal shower, my best friend made sure to have both peppermint patties and Starburst -- my two favorites -- in abundance. And when my husband wants to give me a little encouragement, he brings one home for me to enjoy. In some ways, it's not so much about the candy itself as it is about your loved ones knowing and caring about the little things that make you happy.

I've been a little disappointed over the years, as I've noticed the sugar content rising . . . frankly, we don't need it, and it only contributes to tooth decay and weird aftertastes.

But overall, the peppermint pattie has moved into the 21st century unchanged. It still arrives in that retro foil wrapper with the simple design that takes you back to the 40s.

I'm not sure I believe that peppermint patties are truly a "lowfat food" or that they really contain two percent of my recommended daily intake of iron . . . but they do give me the sensation, I'll give 'em that.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Country roads / take me home

You’d think, living in the middle of one of the most backwoods cities in the country, that I’d have just about enough of the country here in Pittsburgh. Also, considering that our fair city is one of the most tree-lined in the nation, I really do have a lot to be grateful for when it comes to shade and freshly made oxygen balancing out the oppression of the urban jungle.

But somehow, it just ain’t enough for this country girl. On our way home to Dillsburg last weekend to visit with friends and family, Lewis the mutt and Mr. Incredible just about got drunk on fresh spring air flowing through the car as we passed into Central Pennsylvania (it smelled good to me, too, but I was the designated driver and had to control myself).

We love our neighbors, the diversity of the people around us, the many events and opportunities the city offers (especially for foodies like us) . . . but this is what we miss:

The willow tree in our old backyard. It was probably destined to die sometime soon anyway, but the way it swayed in the breeze, thrashed in thunderstorms and provided a 15-foot diameter of dappled shade—I will never stop missing that.

Driving down the road in the dark. The city never sleeps, so they say, for which I’m grateful, when I’m a pedestrian after dark. But on the other hand, it never really gets dark. There’s something seductive about driving down a main country road in the dark: it makes you want to run away with the person you love and follow whatever crazy dreams you’ve always had, but never acted on.

Having a yard where our dog can run around and poop. That’s probably enough explanation for that topic.

Seasons in the country. We have spring in the city, yes, and it is stunning in its own way, as flowering trees and shrubs lend extra grace to century-old architecture that you’d never find in the country. But spring in the country means that when the trees begin to leaf out, you see masses—even mountains—of bright green tips against dark bark. And when trees bloom, there are clouds of white and pink blossoms filling the sky. You can’t miss it, and you can’t help being overcome by the drama of country seasons.

That’s probably only the short list of what we miss. We also miss our friends and our family . . . although in some cases, moving away has only shown us how strong our relationships are.

We’ll move back to the country someday to start our commune (any takers? I’m serious), and when we do I’m sure we’ll miss the comforts of city life, like only filling up our gas tank once a month, only needing one car, not having a yard to mow and living on the same block as our friends from church. We’ll miss Trader Joe’s and the other three grocery stores within a mile and a half of our house. And the convenience of the farmer’s market.

But overall, when we move away from the city, I’m pretty sure that those country roads are going to take us home to the place where we belong.

(Not West Virginia, though. I hope.)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Bare legs on a cool spring day

It is a joy to put on a flouncy skirt on the first of May;
To revel in the freedom of bare feet in soft flat shoes—
No tights, no nylons, no pants—
No constraints.

It is a shock to walk outside in a flouncy skirt on the first of May;
Though it’ll be seventy-one later it’s forty-three now—
Only eleven degrees between freezing and spring—
I must be nuts.

It is a relief to feel warm rain on a flouncy skirt on the first of May;
It soothes the leg hairs that have grown 1/8 inch in the cold air—
Drops falling slowly and warm puddles forming promise a warmer day—
I can’t wait.