Every week, while I meal-plan I try to include one meal we don’t make regularly, and see if it turns into something I can regularly put into our rotation. Inspired by The Hemborg Wife, last week I chose to do breakfast for dinner!
We had banana waffles, sausages, and fruit salad, and I still had some maple syrup squirreled away. My veggie sausages that I was trying for the first time tasted surprisingly delicious, and brought me back to the time of Lil’ Smokies (without the grizzle). My Danish family, though was not so impressed by the combination of sweet and savory, and when they agreed that they didn’t like the waffles with the sausages, my lip started to tremble.
At first, I didn’t realize exactly why. After all, this was not the first time that my American tastes differed from their Danish ones. But suddenly, tears actually started to stream down my face, as I realized that I was suddenly, astonishingly homesick. I wanted to sit at a table with someone who grew up with and liked the same things I liked. I wanted them to agree with me that this was such an awesome dinner, and reminded them so much of when they were little. And as I took another bite, I was struck by a sudden vivid memory and nostalgia overtook me. Between bites and sobs, I told them the story:
I went to elementary school in a tiny town out in the country, called Maple Grove, named for the grove of maple trees it was built in the middle of. Every year, the first grade class would learn about tapping trees, and making maple syrup. They’d host a “pancake breakfast” which their parents and family attended, and put on a variety show, after which everyone would sit down and eat pancakes, Lil’ Smokies, fruit salad, and most importantly, eat it all with the maple syrup that had been made from the sap of the trees that the children had tapped themselves. When I was in first grade, I could not have been more excited about the Pancake Breakfast. My parents, having seven children, didn’t get to come to every parent-teacher conference, but they were coming to the pancake breakfast, and I couldn’t wait to have them in school, eat the maple syrup that “I made,” and read the poem I wrote about spring and tapping trees. The night before, I had laid out my blue dress on the chair beside my bed, and went to sleep, no doubt dreaming in maple-syrup hues. When I woke up, I hurried to put on the dress that I’d laid out the day before, but it wasn’t there! Instead, was a new blue-and-white checked dress with a print of cherries on it that my mom had laid in its place. I think this was the…well, cherry on top that put me over the edge. When I was at school, I got an awful stomachache. My teacher sent me to the secretary to call my parents, and on my way down the hallway, I started to cry, thinking I would miss the pancake breakfast, the day I’d been looking forward to for weeks! Luckily, before I made it to the office, I let out a loud belch and suddenly felt all better. Probably thanking the maple god, I headed back to my classroom, believing in miracles, and the day went off without a hitch. We ate pancakes with maple syrup, I showed my parents my poem and my picture on the wall, I wore my dress with cherries on it, and I was a very, very happy little girl.
It’s a silly story, really, but I hadn’t thought about it in a long time, and with such a wave of nostalgia, it made me really homesick. I miss Wisconsin in the summer. I miss picking snap-peas and eating the peas out and replacing them with currents. I miss enormous hollow-sounding watermelons, and counting mosquito bites. I miss sitting inside, all the lights in the house turned off to keep it from getting too warm. I even nostalgically miss everyone sitting around the kitchen table snapping beans to freeze for the winter, or sitting in a circle on the deck with an enormous mound of peas in the middle to pod, begging my older brothers and sisters to play “fortunately/unfortunately” (one person starts to tell a story, and the next person has to lead with “fortunately…(insert good thing)” the next leading with “unfortunately…(insert bad thing)” etc.).
It’s funny, what little things can spark such an emotional reaction. I hope next year, we can make it to Wisconsin to visit in the summer, and I can eat cheese curds and drink root beer floats.