This month I had the good fortune to join in celebrating the 95th Birthday of an AMAZING man.
As the son of immigrants, Ed was raised in a time when people farmed not because it was cool or trendy - but rather it was a life or death necessity.
I can listen to the stories of his childhood for hours. While he never sugarcoats how hard his parents worked or what it was like not having indoor plumbing or cars or electricity - you can't help but get such a real sense of how important family and neighbors and community were everyday.
As a child Ed's parents (and most of their neighbors) kept a cow who provided their supply of milk (which made their cheese) and a yearly calf to be harvested at Thanksgiving along with a hog or two. Literally the entire neighborhood would band together to make salami, prosciutto and sausage - taking turns at each others house to make sure every family would have enough in their larder to get through the winter. This scene would be repeated when it was time to make the wine as well.
The factory homes his family lived in were built on postage stamp lots, having pasture was unheard of. In the spring a wealthy neighbor would let them walk their cows down the 1/2 mile path twice a day to be staked in their yard as free lawnmowers. All summer long the families would gather the grass left along the side of the road after the town crew came by with the sickle bar cutter and make hay mounds to get their cows through winter. Periodically they would cut branches from the willow trees as supplemental forage for the cows.
The woodstove that burned year-round simmered the garden scraps and kernels cut from ear corn that his mom would dole out to the hogs. Ed swears his mother had a sixth sense and could pick out the chicken hadn't laid an egg that week - which put the hen on the block for Sunday dinner.
Hearing his stories of community makes me long even more the human connections we took for granted Pre-COVID. I am hopeful that our "New Normal" - whatever that may be - will continue to be a resurrection of supporting our local community and reconnecting to our food as nourishment and sustenance for our family dinners.
Real food enthusiast following nature's template