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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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columbiagorge

Beauty and Diversity

I had the privilege of living in the Tacoma, Washington area from 1977 to 1991. It was a treat to be able to leave work in the early afternoon and in an hour be in the bustling center of Seattle, or on the coast in Westport, or up on a mountain logging road communing with nature at the base of Mt. Rainier. Add a little more time and you could be driving the Columbia gorge through high dessert in the eastern side of the state smelling apple blossoms (if it was spring). I miss the diversity of its beauty.

People say it rains too much in Washington, but if you look up weather information for western New York State, where I now live, it actually has more grey days than Washington. New York state also has diverse areas that are breathtaking to look at and visit but there is no sight better, to me, than the sun or moon appearing from behind Mt. Rainier. I used to drive to work at dawn and want to pull over just to enjoy the sight.

A few years ago my husband and I traveled to Washington to attend a live recording session of a jazz singer friend of ours, Nancy Kelly. It was November and the “mountain was out,” as the locals say, all three days we were there. Unheard of! I took him for a circular drive over Snoqualmie, Blewett and White Pass and back into Seattle. We experienced sunshine, rain, and blinding snow on that trip in just a few hours. Now he understands how you can have any temperature you want in Washington if you are willing to drive to it.

Seattle’s Public Market is world renowned. You have probably seen a video of the guys throwing big fish back and forth. Seattle is also the original home of Starbuck’s coffee. The first shop was on a side street between the market and the waterfront. You had to know where it was or you would miss it. Now there is a Starbuck’s on most every corner of the U. S.. When I have a cup it brings back memories of going to that first store.

The Army, Air Force and Navy are well represented in Washington. That’s how I ended up there, as an Air Force wife. The wife part didn’t last long, but my memories of living in Washington are vivid and happy. I hope you get to visit there one day and the mountain shows itself for you to gaze at. And, if my novel ever gets published, you’ll find the Washington setting is almost as important as any of the characters.

 

 

 

Applesauce Anyone?

Have you ever driven past an apple orchard when it is in full bloom?  Not only is it pretty and serene, it smells fresh and flowery.  In the fall, when the apples are weighing the branches down, begging to be picked, you can once again enjoy the scent, but this time it makes your mouth water because you can almost taste the fresh warm applesauce or feel the juice running down your chin after a crunchy bite.

When I was young, we would get a peck of apples, wash them, cut them in quarters and put them, just like that, in a pot to cook.  Not much water was added, just enough so the apples didn’t burn.  Once they were cooked to the mushy stage, we would put ladles full in a cone shape colander then use a wooden thing that looked like a one handled rolling-pin with a blunt end (I don’t know its name) to force the sauce into another pot before we canned or froze it.  This process removed all the skins, seeds and stems.  The result was a pretty pink applesauce.  No preservatives, maybe a tiny bit of sugar. It sure tasted good when we ate it warm while looking out at snow drifts.

I have had the good fortune to live near Lake Ontario in New York state and in Washington state along the Columbia Gorge where apple orchards are plentiful.  It’s fun to drive past the orchards when the apples are ripe to see the green Granny Smiths, the reds of all types, and the Yellow Delicious. Stopping at a road side stand to buy apples is a must.

In Fort Wayne, Indiana in Johnny Appleseed Park there is a grave marking the spot where the legendary sower of apple seeds rests. He was born John Chapman on September 26, 1774, in Leominster, Massachusetts.  He  was a unique man whose appearance was as interesting as his mission.  He traveled, mostly barefoot, from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, planting apple trees, taking care of sick orchards, and doing kind acts for people along the way.  When I was in grade school we learned about this man at this time of year. 
Next time you buy a bag of apples, or buy some fresh ones at a stand, remember Johnny Appleseed and his contribution to our lives, then enjoy a bowl of warm applesauce.

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