The sweet taste of buckeyes?
On yesterday’s walk along the creek, I noticed that the buckeye trees were just beginning to wake up. Fat, red buds were swelling at their branch ends. I could see that some of the buds had even unfurled into close clusters of tiny, feathered leaves, and I was reminded of a story from several years ago when Greg and I drove east to visit my brother and his wife in the far northeastern mountains.
I am always amazed to pass though the steep jagged highlands of the continental divide, and then arrive in the weathered mountains where my brother makes his home. The land that surrounds his farm is filled with wide river valleys and rounded mountain tops, and the air is always filled with the piney scent of coniferous trees. It is a beautiful place.
My brother really is my brother. Not only is he a grown city child who now lives on a farm, but he also an avid collector of vintage treasures. One day he and his wife decided to take us on a treasure hunt to one of their favorite antique spots.
We walked up and down wooden floored aisles, filled to overflowing with the usual kinds of vintage treasures, the types of things that Greg and I would typically encounter back home. We shared stories as we walked, remembering things from our childhood, but shortly, Greg and I began to point out things that were uncommon, or even new, to us. We walked past almost countless stacks of vintage maple sap buckets and spiles, piles of ice fishing gear, old wooden snow shoes and leather strapped metal cleats, whaling gaffs and flensing tools, and all sorts of other, what we thought were surely, typical northeastern things.
I was really looking for some sort of a souvenir, something I could bring back home to remember this trip, but no matter how hard I looked, that something seemed to elude me.
Finally, close to the end of one of the last aisles, Greg spotted an old jar, filled with vintage, rather beat up, marbles. He handed the jar to me. I turned it over in my hands. I recognized the marbles as being manufactured back in the 1950s in a factory not too far up the river from the creek. I knew the marbles were really quite common, and I could see that they were not in the best condition, but the price was more than fair. I shifted the jar from hand to hand, and then decided with a nod, to bring them back home, both to the creek, and yes, closer to their original home place.
Greg, and my brother and his wife, stood nearby and waited while I approached the checkout counter. It was an old wooden topped display case, and on its worn wooden surface sat small bags of locally made candy. Among the bags, I spotted a clear cellophane bag of chocolate covered, peanut butter, buckeyes. Imagine that. I had not only come across marbles from my neck of the woods, but candy as well.
I handed my jar of marbles over to the young man behind the counter and told him that I’d also like a bag of buckeye candy. He looked at me curiously. I picked up one of the bags, “Yes, buckeyes,” I said, as I handed the bag over to him.
“Oh, you mean moose eyes,” he replied, and he then proceeded to ring me out on a beautiful old cash register that dinged as he reached my total due. He looked up and told me my bill, and as I dug into my wallet to pay, I explained that where I came from, the candies were referred to as buckeyes, because they look just like the nuts that fall from our buckeye trees. He nodded his head. I noticed a curious smile spreading across his face.
“Well here, we call them moose eyes, because, if you notice, they look just like the eyes on those big moose that live in our mountains.” It was my turn to smile.
On the drive back to my brother’s house, the sweet taste of buckeyes spread across our tongues, but perhaps I should really say that the sweet taste of buckeyes filled my mouth and Greg’s, while the taste of locally made moose eyes sweetened the lips of my brother and his wife.
Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.