Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tractors and Turkey Nuggets

The wife, younger daughter, two granddaughters and I spent the say before Father's Day in Huron at one of those family reunions where I know a few faces and a few names but almost no combinations of the two. Most of the people who know who I am hadn't seen me in many years. I told my daughter to identify herself as my Mom's granddaughter, as this was mostly my Mom's generation.

A couple of factors made it more interesting, however. First was the setting; an antique tractor and car show. This gave a certain (not entirely welcome) counterbalance to the feeling of being a whippersnapper at the reunion, because I can clearly recall many of those "antique" tractors being used for farming, occasionally by me. The tractor pulling the dump rake brought back especially painful memories of a long day sitting on the seat of one of those rakes as we bounced along cutting and raking hay. Grandbaby enjoyed the parade of tractors, the louder the better. It was also interesting to see the stationary engines on display. Although there weren't any of the really big ones with the gigantic drive belts that rely on friction to stay on the pulleys, the smaller ones still serve as huffing, popping reminders that internal combustion hasn't always been the science it is today, and another reason farming has been (and to a certain degree still is) a dangerous occupation.

Then there was the other novel element. Mom has had dealings with the local Hutterite colony for many years, teaching piano and occasionally playing for their church services when they didn't have anyone who could do it. Lately her brother has also been teaching music there as part of his job with the Iroquois school district, of which their school is part. As part of the reunion Mom arranged for supper at the colony, and their kids sang a few songs. We ate in the dining hall early, before the men came in for supper. The phrase "simple country fare" has become a cliche, but this pretty much fit; carrots, radishes and an interesting cold corn and cabbage salad; bread-crumb soup; turkey nuggets that if sold on the open market would force any other producer of similar items out of business; mashed potatoes that managed to be incredibly creamy yet have heft, with unnecessary but delicious gravy; and what I thought was apple/rhubarb pie that was very good but sweeter that I expected, almost like applesauce. The kids sounded good, especially considering some of them haven't had that much experience with English; German is #1 there.

Pearl Creek Colony was a bit larger but no different than I recalled from my last visit. They aren't Amish; the facilities and equipment are thoroughly modern, although TV and other such frivolities are still a no-no. They aren't Amish in another sense; Mom quietly suggested we lock our vehicles "to eliminate temptation". Clothes were the same, as was the curiosity; the kids give you a good looking-over. Grandbaby was a bigger hit than usual, with her dark skin; one young boy asked the lady in charge if they got to keep "the little brown baby". I told my daughter that if she wanted to stay I could probably get a pig for her and they would likely find her a husband by Monday, but she demurred, as did the other daughter when I suggested later that we could get at least a cow - or maybe a truckload of turkey nuggets - for Grandbaby and her. All in all a fairly good time, although getting these girls married off is going to be tough if they're going to be so picky.