For more than 60 years,
a publication centered on life in Mississippi.
Today is October 15, 2018

Outdoors

The way is was and still can be

The way is was and still can be

Doing it the old way! Photo: Tony Kinton

October is the month of romance! That bold statement may be quickly challenged, for some conclude that June claims top billing for this designation. After all, weddings are often scheduled for June. Still, I hold firm, prejudiced by recall from my early days, that October reigns supreme in the arena of romance. Please allow here some definition and explanation.

Romance in the usage just mentioned is not restricted to human relationships. It moves past that to include awe, sentiment and wonder, these focused on the natural world around us. It is more a mindset than it is an event. And October rises to the surface if this form of romance is contemplated. October is then the very essence, the embodiment of romance.

Consider an October sky at sunrise. The expanse overhead appears especially vast, more distant than that of summer past. Wispy clouds seem drawn to that rising sun, suspended and haunting in an azure globe of mystique. The observer is compelled to stop and stare and absorb. A new day is being forged on an anvil of pink and orange and mist and fog—and yes, romance. Moments later, when darkness has been fully displaced by light, trees that were mere apparitions lost in the shadows earlier become grand spectacles of gold and red and gentle brown. Romance has once again blossomed.

For one who is in proximity to agriculture, additions to such grandeur can be handily found. Ripe pumpkins; curled corn stalks performing their ballet in quiet breezes; raspy songs of insects; the rustle of leaves, perhaps soon followed by their pirouette downward as they prepare to nurture the soil.

One activity that I recall from childhood is particularly enchanting to me, and that is the processing of cane stalks into rich juice that was and is for the most part transformed into syrup, a substance of rare and substantial value. While not as common as in days past, it is still done. There are several mills in easy driving distance of me, and I tend to visit the closest among them annually. The aroma is reason enough to make the trip to a cane mill.

Just as in those old days, mules turn the long pole that turns the press at this mill. These animals are rotated regularly throughout the day to provide rest breaks. And unless memory has failed me, and it could possibly have done so, this romantic and alluring endeavor of making syrup takes place in October—or close to that month anyway. I usually leave there with a can or two of that syrup, all destined for breakfast biscuits or more likely cane-syrup cookies. These things are too good to be legal. Here are instructions for making the Kinton version of these delights:

Cane-Syrup Cookies
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cream 1 stick of margarine and 1/4 cup of canola oil. Then add and mix 1 egg, 11/2 cups of cane syrup and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. In another bowl, mix 4 cups of plain flour, 11/2 teaspoons of baking soda and ½ teaspoon of salt. Whisk or sift these and blend into the syrup mixture. Then hand stir in 11/2 cups of sugar. Roll this mixture into teaspoon balls. These can be left in balls or pressed slightly for a crispier cookie. Bake for 6 to 7 minutes or until brown. Oh my!

So, go to a cane mill or watch a sunrise or absorb autumn colors or listen to the insects or view the dance of cornstalks. Better still, do all these things and more. It is October after all, and October is overflowing with romance.

Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. His newest book is “Rambling Through Pleasant Memories.” Order from Amazon.com or Kinton’s website: www.tonykinton.com.

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