In My Humble Opinion

Aren’t you sweet?

By JONATHAN CHARLES FOX
Posted 1/22/20

With the onset of winter, unpredictable weather invariably ensues. As a result, my work-related plans often peter out (1). Such was the case last weekend, as somewhat dire forecasts began to surface. …

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In My Humble Opinion

Aren’t you sweet?

Posted

With the onset of winter, unpredictable weather invariably ensues. As a result, my work-related plans often peter out (1). Such was the case last weekend, as somewhat dire forecasts began to surface. Rather than throwing caution to the bitter-cold wind, event coordinators responded accordingly, and cancellations began to roll out. Before I could say “Jack Frost made me do it,” I had nowhere to go, no one to see and (potentially) nothing to write about. Not wanting to disappoint all 11 of you who look forward to reading this column on a regular basis, I put my wooly thinking cap on and scoured the calendar section of The River Reporter.

“Nope, nope and nope,” I said to the dog, as I furiously scratched out a couple of music venues that I had planned to visit, and a reading at the library (www.wsplonline.org) in Narrowsburg, NY. “Just wanted to give you a heads-up,” my email from program coordinator Claudine Luchinger began. “Our library event with Sullivan county’s first-ever poet laureate Mark Blackford has been rescheduled for Saturday, February 8 at 2 p.m.” In addition to Blackford, writers William Fellenberg and Bizzy Coy were on the bill. I had been so looking forward to seeing (and hearing) all three, that I had mistakenly headed out the door last weekend only to be derailed before warming up the car. “Aren’t you sweet,” Bizzy cooed when I called her to RSVP, “But our reading is next week, silly. See you then.” Well, next week was last week and now it’s in two weeks, so my head is spinning and I’m hoping that the third time’s a charm. 

As luck would have it, the storm hardly materialized. By Sunday, the “bread, milk, toilet paper” frenzy had subsided and weekend flatlanders (2) breathed a collective sigh of relief. Since the Upper Delaware River region was spared all but a few inches—I was fully prepared in the TP department—I decided to hit up some local vendors (www.callicoonfarmersmarket.org) and stock up on food that’s actually good for me. Lately I’ve been faced with a couple of health issues; I was advised by my nutritionist to avoid sugar altogether in order to help my body heal naturally. “You’ll probably hate me,” she said during our first consultation last year, after I informed her that sugar was at the tip-top of my food pyramid, just above bacon and mayonnaise. “I already hate you,” I sneered, “and we’ve only just begun.” 

“Aren’t you sweet?” she responded. “Trust me; you’ll thank me one day.” That said, I balked and refused to comply with the no-sugar-rule until very, very recently. While I’ve been fairly vigilant in all other aspects of my wellness program and doing my darndest to follow a holistic approach to living with “dis-ease,” as the tree-hugging, chant-the-pain-away, flower-child community ascribes to. But for me, following an all-natural diet has been challenging, to say the least. “You want me to eat what?” I wailed as the nutritionist’s list (say that three times fast) grew exponentially, leaving caffeine, salt and all things sugary in her wake. “I won’t and you can’t make me!” I wailed, researching every recommendation, and learning that she was (aargh) probably right. “Just think of it as a 30-day experiment,” my acupuncturist, Jason Barnes (www.riverfamilywellness.com), said, “instead of a lifetime commitment. Try it for a month and see if it helps. I know, I know… It’s not easy,” he said. “Especially the no-coffee thing. Maybe some tea with honey?”

“I’m allergic to honey” I whined. “It makes me break out in hives. And yeah, I get the irony,” I moaned, hanging my head and sighing. So off I went, Dharma the Wonder Dog in tow, as we visited stall after stall at the indoor farmers’ market, where I chatted with vendors offering (ugh) healthy-alternative produce, eggs and fruits, which (from what I’ve been told by my witch-doctor) are high in natural sweetness, unlike my go-to breakfast: a pop tart and coffee with four sugars. I ran into scads of friends and neighbors, catching up with a few I hadn’t seen in forever and schmoozing with bakers who (sadly) could not fulfill my sweet-tooth needs. “I bet you can eat this!” Channery Hill Farm’s Jen McGlashan said in response to my pouting. “Try my pierogi: delicious comfort food at its best, and my amazing family recipes include both savory and sweet.” As I sampled one of her warm, perfectly browned, cheese-and-potato filled dumplings, Jen waxed nostalgic about growing up in Gramma Helen’s kitchen and her grandmother’s refusal to share secrets with her own daughters. “But we grandchildren were allowed in the kitchen,” she said with a wink. Jen’s friends encouraged her to “go public” with the “secret” recipes, so she began offering up Gramma Helen’s pierogis at the famers’ market during the winter months to warm bellies and make people smile. As I scanned the Delaware Youth Center and folks milling about, I spied über talented artists Candy Spilner and Allan Rubin among the farmers’ market glitterati. “You look great!” I said to Candy, who responded in kind. “Aren’t you sweet,” I mewed. “What about me?” Allan interjected. “Aren’t I sweet?” he asked with his ever-present grin. “You’re more of an acquired taste,” I teased. “But sweet? Let’s just say you’re better than a pop tart, in my humble opinion.”

  1. The expression peter out originated in the 1800s. It is unclear exactly how it developed. Some sources speculate it may have come from mining since many early examples relate to mining. One of the first sources is from the Milwaukee Daily Gazette in December, 1845.
  2.  Flatlander (noun): A person who lives at low altitude, used by those living at higher altitudes.

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