Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Maple Everything"

This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls. It fills the "Maple Syrup" square in my 1-1-20 card for the Less Usual Bingo Patterns fest. It has been sponsored by a pool with [personal profile] fuzzyred, [personal profile] erulisse, and [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. This poem belongs to the Rutledge thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Maple Everything"

[Saturday, March 7, 2015]

Vermont had been going mad about maple
all week, or really, since that sugar snow
clear back at the end of February.

Rutledge celebrated Maple Everything
in the first week of March, and they
held the big fair on Saturday.

Bregid McDowell led walking tours
around town to the stores that
sold maple syrup and sugar.
Niles Leland led skiing tours
to show the sugar houses
and the maple forests.

There were presentations
about maple trees and
all the delicious things
that came from them.

All the Syrians had gotten
free T-shirts again -- only
this time instead of Vermont
they all said maple syrup or
maple sugar or something.

The sugar makers had sent
the shirts along with samples
of various maple products
to introduce everyone to
"Vermont's finest food."

Ibrahim Khaled chose
a gray shirt that read,
Make syrup not war.

His son Darwish had
a green one that read,
Life is too short for
fake maple syrup
.

His son Nadir had
a tan one that read,
Maple syrup goes
on everything
.

There was a booth
with a screen printer
that would make a T-shirt
with whatever image you
picked from a catalog of
logos and maple trees
and all kinds of things.

Other booths offered
tastes of everything maple.

Not all the Syrians loved
the maple flavor, though.

Most of the kids did,
of course, but some of
the adults found it
too cloying.

Ibrahim was ...
undecided still.

The street fair was
spectacular, though.

Both of the boys
stuffed themselves
with the offerings.

"This stuff is amazing!"
Nadir said, and Darwish
added, "Best food ever."

They were learning English,
but Nadir was doing better.

There was maple cream
spread on fresh bread,
which cut the sweetness
enough that Ibrahim
found it intriguing.

There was maple sugar
made into little leaves,
which the boys devoured
and Ibrahim thought might
be nice to cook with.

The fudge, too, was
molded in leaves rather
than cut into squares,
richer and creamier than
the plain maple sugar.

Micah Horton laid out
baked apples stuffed
with nuts and oatmeal,
sweetened with maple.

Ibrahim thought they
tasted good -- he was
learning that he preferred
to cut the maple with
something else.

Perley Ann O'Leary
had made maple milk.
Even Darwish didn't care
for that, but Nadir certainly did.

A food truck sold savory things, so
Ibrahim bought maple sweet potatoes
and maple-mustard glazed chicken.

Beside it was a booth selling salads
with maple vinaigrette. Ibrahim
hadn't known about maple vinegar,
but the sample fascinated him --
all brash and bright, almost like
wine vinegar, and splendid when
mellowed with a little syrup.

So he bought some vinegar.

Betsy Wallace sold live plants
and maple syrup in the parking lot.
"Come taste my rainbow," she called.

Ibrahim was fascinated by the rows
of maple syrup, arranged from
lighter to darker colors. Some
were almost clear, through
yellow and orange, and
the darkest nearly brown.

"They are different?"
Ibrahim wondered.

"Early in the season,
the syrup is very pale with
a delicate flavor," Betsy said.
"As it gets darker, the flavor
becomes more robust."

She offered crackers and
apple slices to taste the syrup.

Ibrahim found that he preferred
the lightest color, while Darwish
liked the dark and Nadir preferred
the one that was nearly brown.

"The light you can pour over
fruit or ice cream," Betsy said.
"Darker flavors work better
for topping savory things
or for cooking in recipes."

They had gotten a bottle of
the all-purpose amber syrup
from the sugar makers, so
Ibrahim bought a small bottle
of everyone's favorite. He
could always trade the amber
to someone who preferred that.

In Main Street Park, Acer Sawyer
was demonstrating how to tap
a maple tree and gather sap.

Nearby, his wife Ella led
a maple lesson for children
demonstrating sap flow.

Ibrahim sat down and
watched while Darwish
and Nadir put celery stalks
in colored water to watch it
creep slowly up the stems.

One of the girls had
vivid rainbow hair, a sign
that more soups were
moving into Rutledge.

Ibrahim felt proud of
helping that to happen.

When the boys finished
coloring their illustrations of
how maple trees worked,
the family moved on.

Monique Obomsawin
was making maple syrup
the Abenaki way, boiling it in
several kettles over a long fire.

She also had a stone trough
filled with snow, where she
made snow candy.

That was too sticky
for Ibrahim's taste, but
the boys couldn't get
enough of the stuff.

Other tribe members
offered them maple taffy,
no-bake granola bars, and
candied squash leather,
of which Ibrahim liked
the squash best.

As the family moved
back onto the sidewalks,
they passed a baking section
with decorated cookies and
maple huckleberry coffee cake.

Some booths had signs saying
that they used halal vanilla.

It made him feel welcome.

Not all Muslims avoided things
with too little alcohol to intoxicate,
but some people felt it was all filthy.
That depended on which rulings
and precedents one followed.

In any case, it was nice of
their neighbors to announce
which ingredients they used.

One side street even held
a Sugar-Free Fair that had
all kinds of interesting food.

Some used maple extract
instead of maple syrup, like
the maple-pumpkin scones
and the coffee. Others used
completely different flavors.

By then, Ibrahim was
starting to feel queasy
from all the sweet food,
and the boys looked worse.

"Let's walk it off," Ibrahim said.
Darwish and Nadir grumbled,
but followed him away from
the Sugar-Free Fair street.

Then Mentha Burbank
beckoned to all three
from her green booth.

A sign above it read,
Too much maple?
Just add ginger!


Ibrahim remembered
it was good for nausea.

"How much?" he asked.

"If you've overeaten, I have
free treatments for nausea
or indigestion," Mentha said.
"I have ginger, cinnamon, and
peppermint as tea or candies."

"We've had enough candy,"
Ibrahim said firmly. "We will
take the ginger tea, please."

"Why free?" Darwish asked.

"The medics raise money to fund
supplies," Mentha said. "I can treat
digestive upsets, which make up
our main complaints at this event,
taking pressure off the paramedics."

"This happens a lot?" Ibrahim said.
"Then why keep holding the event?"

"Because we love everything maple!"
said Mentha. "Most people only overdo it
once or twice, then they learn their limits.
We wind up treating tourists and children
who haven't done this much before."

"That makes sense," Ibrahim said.
"Next year we'll be more careful!"

"I'm sure you will," Mentha said,
then handed out cups of tea.

It was hot and spicy, not sweet.
Ibrahim sipped his slowly, and
the queasiness began to fade.

"The Maple Queen will be crowned
in fifteen minutes," Mayor Castle said
over the loudspeaker. "If you want
to watch, head to the main stage."

"I want to see her!" Nadir said.

"Go on, then, and have fun,"
Mentha said, waving them off.

They had gotten several blocks
from the main stage, so they
had to walk briskly in order
to catch the coronation.

At least all that sugar had
given them plenty of energy.

The whole parking lot was
packed with people, but
when they saw Ibrahim,
they made room to shift
his family toward the front.

"Who is that?" Nadir said.

"I have no idea," Ibrahim said,
staring at the short curvy woman
whose loose orange body stocking
covered her face almost completely.

"That's Maple Sugar," said Niles,
who was standing beside them.
"She has a Key to the City for
Montpelier -- that means she's
their official superhera. But
she travels to maple events
in other towns when she can."

Mayor Castle escorted a girl
to the stage, and Ibrahim
was startled to recognize
her as one of his Syrians,
a Catholic named Hanah.

Some strong emotion
squeezed his chest
at the inclusion, but he
couldn't begin to name
what it might actually be.

Maple Sugar lowered a crown
of yellow silk maple leaves
onto Hanah's head, and
the crowd cheered.

Beside Ibrahim, his sons
jumped up and down,
clapping their hands.

It was a wonderful day.

* * *

Notes:

This poem is long, so its character and content notes will appear elsewhere.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, food, holiday, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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