'It is difficult to stir rebellion among those to whom all things are good.' -- from Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light

10th of April, 2005

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An important announcement before we get to the issue:

Kim Bates here, with some news about the goings on here in the Green Man Review offices. It's spring, and we've opened the windows, aired out the curtains, and changed some door plaques. It is my very great pleasure to welcome April Gutierrez to her new position as our Book Editor. She brings a great deal of experience with literature and with GMR to this position, and her presence will no doubt be appreciated by both readers and staff alike. Not to worry, Maria Nutick is not leaving us, and you can look forward to reading more of her reviews in the coming months. Tim Hoke has stepped up to become our Managing Editor, and he is eagerly awaiting your audition reviews. (Did I mention that we'd love to have more music aficionados join our staff? The CDs are overflowing every corner of my office -- perhaps they are waiting for you!)

Finally, we welcome Denise Dutton and Leona Wisoker to our proofing staff. Green Man is truly a labour of love, and it wouldn't run without the generous contributions of folks like April, Tim and Denise -- and the rest of our fine editorial staff. Bravo!

After a long winter which seemed never to end, I, Jack Merry, am quite overjoyed to say that the winter in this North Atlantic city has begun its slow retreat. Even the massively built white-bearded gent, sitting in the Pub late one evening sipping on a particularly fine drink he was enjoying and chuckling to himself while he read the Hill House edition of Neil Gaiman's American Gods, said he was tired of winter and his ancient bones were looking forward to spring. He added that indeed his drink was fine for taking the chill from those bones, but the warm sun of spring was better at making one as old as he feel just a bit younger. Reynard, in sympathy, poured him 'nother hot spiced braggot on the house.

The kitchen staff here at Green Man decided to honor the coming of Spring with a chocolate fling. (Don't ask why there's more than a bit of rum in the triple chocolate cheese cake. Just find a place to nod off comfortably after you consume a slice. I recommend the overstuffed chairs by the fireplace in the Robert Graves Memorial Reading Room in the GMR Library as it's generally quiet there.) Their invited guest was Emma Bull who has, having recovered from eating way too much chocolate, a few words to say about this delicacy. She starts off by praising her favourite chocolate that our cooks had on hand: The Green & Black's 71% dark chocolate was five-star; intense and smooth at the same time, a bitter wake-up edge at first bite that mellows instantly somewhere around the middle of the tongue. Who says sustainable chocolate doesn't cut it? Chocolate is designed to be grown sustainably, like coffee.'

She goes on to ruminate about chocolate and the way things should be: 'Cows are supposed to eat grass, and chickens are supposed to run around in a big space eating bugs and seeds and stuff. How did we get so weird about the way we produce our food? Actually, I know how we got so weird. But what we ought to do is to start eating things like meat and chocolate and coffee in much smaller quantities while seeking out better quality, and learning to relish every nibble. In other words, treat them like the luxuries they are. Chocolate is not meant to be eaten by the handful in the form of M&Ms. Mind the way a thing grows: it will tell you how to use it.' She suggests that a dry red is the ideal wine to accompany the chocolate course, if it's dark chocolate, and finished off her comments by mentioning another food which goes well with chocolate: 'Oh, yes -- peanut butter and chocolate combined is one of humanity's shining inventions.'

All of us here at Green Man wish Emma and her husband, Will Shetterly, best wishes as they move to Tucson. The plan is to lie low there for a few months to finish their incredibly overdue novels. Emma's working on Territory, and Will's working on his sequel to Dogland, The Secret Academy.

Our first featured review is not a review at all, but rather an interview in which Gary Whitehouse writes up the conv../ersation he had with guitarist and producer Pete Anderson, who reveals that his label, Little Dog, is preparing to release a solo acoustic album by Curt Kirkwood, formerly of the Meat Puppets. You read it first here at Green Man Review! Read Gary's Excellence in Writing (and Interviewing) Award winning review here.

Our other featured review is an Excellence in Writing Award winning review by Vonnie Carts-Powell of a new offering from Susan Cooper: 'The play is the thing. The Magician's Boy is not just about a theatrical performance, but also about pretend-games and exploration, and the magic of rituals and traditions. Although ostensibly aimed at 8-12-year-old readers, the book seems better suited for readers just barely old enough to venture into chapterbooks, and it makes a fine read-aloud story for those much younger.'

Now where was I? Oh, talking about the book reviews this edition. April's moving into a new office here at Green Man with more space for all those pesky review copies that come in to be stored away until our staff claims them for reading, so I'm spelling her by writing up this commentary.

J.J.S. Boyce has a confession as regards Philip Pullman and his best-known series: 'His Dark Materials. At last we meet. I've been aware of this trilogy for some time, and though I didn't know precisely what it was about (and maintained my ignorance up until the moment the special GMR cherub delivered it to my door and I embarked on my journey), I did know this: That's a great name. Seriously. Isn't that a neat title theme for a series? It's dark and portentous, and the individual titles of each installment hint to us of the unique magical devices within: those which each have their own influences on the path of the continuing story. Half the story is in the title after all. Well, maybe not half. Three eighths? Four seventeenths? I don't know. Ask a literature / mathematics double-major. That's not really the point. The point is the book was off to a good start before I even opened the cover. Actually, there wasn't a cover. There was a box with a bunch of CDs in it. Mia Nutick has the actual books, and she reviewed them here. She had to actually read with her eyes open, the book propped up, turning pages constantly. Sucker. Me, I just pushed play.'

Manly Wade Wellman is the subject of two reviews by Denise Dutton in this edition. Night Shade Books has released two more in their the Lost Wellman series. Giants From Eternity and Strangers on the Heights. She describes 'em this way: 'As with Strangers on the Heights, the stories in the Giants From Eternity collection have a common thread. But while Stranger's stories have a military feel to them, these new stories deal more with historical people and places, while still keeping to their science fiction / fantasy roots. The jacket art by well-known illustrator Vincent Di Fate looks like a cover from an old pulp magazine, and I mean that as a compliment. Plus, it's a nice, portable size, not too big and not too small, and it meets my strict short story collection criteria of 'can it fit into my coat pocket?' It can, and I'm glad.'

Kage Baker is one hell of a fine writer according to Cat Eldridge who says her new novel is as good as anything she's done to date: The Life of the World to Come is the latest novel in Kage Baker's The Company series of novels and shorter fiction, which tell the tale of Zeus Inc. and its not so merry band of immortal cyborgs who pillage the past for all the shiny trinkets that those who run this 24th century corporation desire. However, that plot line is largely offstage this outing, as this tale focuses on a 24th century mortal -- or at least he appears to be -- for whom the Company has undisclosed plans. Oh, did I fail to mention that Captain Morgan, an AI who thinks he's a pirate and acts accordingly, figures into the story? But you really, really need to immerse yourself in the rich worlds of The Company series before reading this novel. Right now. Go. Come back when you're up to speed. While you do so, I'll wait around drinking chocolate and watching 1930s movies, which Lewis and Joseph, two of Baker's heroine's fellow cyborg companions, would appreciate.'

Two Joan Aiken novels, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and A Necklace of Raindrops and Other Stories, get reviewed by Lory Hess who notes of her that ' Joan Aiken is a true storyteller -- a spinner of tales that in another age would keep a crowd spellbound around a dying fire, or make restless children eager for bedtime. Today, of course, her stories have been set down in books: over a hundred of them to date. Whether she is producing a nursery tale for the youngest listeners or a thriller for adults, her books are based on the good, old-fashioned principle of the primacy of plot -- and are saved from being mere potboilers by her quirky imagination and sure command of language.' Read her review of these novels so see why Lory found them quite good!

Fiona Ritchie's The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Celtic Music is a book that I must now get a copy of! Why so? Let Kelly Sedinger explain in his Excellence in Writing Award winning review: 'I would imagine that more than a few people first encountered Celtic music through the public radio program Thistle and Shamrock, which has run on National Public Radio for over twenty years. That's certainly the way it was with me. Hosted for all that time by Fiona Ritchie, the show is an institution that takes listeners on a weekly tour of Celtic music, sometimes focusing on the newest music available, sometimes focusing on more classic material, sometimes highlighting the grand 'old names' of Celtic music, sometimes leaning toward the newest crossover artists. With Ritchie's extensive knowledge of the music and the infectious enthusiasm and passion that fills each episode, it's the most natural thing in the world that she should write the Celtic Music entry in NPR's Curious Listener's Guide series.'

Lisa Spangenberg notes that in 'The Celts: A Very Short Introduction, Cunliffe manages to do exactly what he set out to do; provide a thorough, interesting, authoritative, but brief introduction to who, and what, the Celts were and are. The nineteen black and white illustrations, including maps, diagrams, figures and images of artifacts, are well-chosen, and the index and excellent, but brief, 'Further Reading,' arranged by topic, are extremely useful. I know I mentioned the small size of the book, but it's exceedingly well designed and quite readable. It's the perfect brief introduction for someone interested in the Celts but not anxious for an expensive or overly detailed tome, a good refresher for those who find themselves in need of one, and an excellent way to see a snapshot of current scholarship and opinion.'

Subterranean Press has released yet 'nother of those publications that publisher slash editor William K. Schafer does so well, to wit Posing as People - Three Stories, Three Plays, a co-production of Orson Scott Card, Scott Brick, Aaron Johnston, and Emily Janice Card. You get both the scripts and 'radio' plays of the same. Reviewer Robert M. Tilendis has but one minor complaint: 'My one disappointment is that the CDs are not DVDs. From Card's remarks on the staging of these plays, I think a visual record would have been perfect. (Quite aside from my own impatience with being read to -- the major reason audiobooks do not appear in my library -- I think that being able to see the plays, with that additional degree of abstraction cum reality, would have made an unbeatable experience.) I am a great admirer of those writers who can utilize the economies of the stage in narrative fiction. With this volume, I have seen how writers can translate the richness of narrative fiction into strong theater. How can you lose?'

Gary Whitehouse wants you to pay attention to a book Dover just re-released that Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff wrote in 1966: ' Hear Me Talkin' follows the progress of the musicians and the music from there to Harlem, briefly out to Kansas City, and back to New York for the Swing Era, and then into the uptown and downtown scenes of the Big Apple, where bop took hold. Finally, we see the competing big bands of Kenton, Herman and Gillespie, watch the West Coast school take root and hear about the Dixieland revival. The book would be a more informative read for the neophyte if it were better annotated -- indeed, annotated at all -- especially in the early sections. Many of the musicians remain household names, but others are less familiar at this remove. Still, like other Dover reprints dealing with American music history, this is a valuable and enjoyable book. Put on one of your favorite jazz records -- right now Coltrane's Ballads is playing -- and lose yourself in this fascinating world.'

Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage: The Graphic Novel, Anna Sewell's Black Beauty: The Graphic Novel, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel are, as Elizabeth Vail notes, a mixed affair: 'While it goes without saying that the Puffin Graphics branch of publishing has managed to produce at least two imaginative adaptations of classic novels, with each book redone by individual writers and artists, it inevitably means that further graphic novels published by this branch will be hit-or-miss, entirely dependent on the writers and artists assigned to them. If you already have the original classic, stick with the original classic, but if you'd like to be introduced to an unfamiliar literary favourite while dealing with time constraints, by all means give one a try.' Read her review to see which ones she really thought worked!

Tracy & Laura Hickman's Mystic Quest: Book Two of the Bronze Canticles has, according to Elizabeth, the potential of a problem: 'The middle book, often like a middle child, is often overlooked when it comes to attention. It is often not as groundbreaking as the first novel, and neither does it offer the answers or revelations of the last book. In essence, the middle book of a series or trilogy has the thankless job of acting as a bridge: while it completes the series, it isn't necessarily as remarkable or memorable as the novels that begin and inevitably end a written saga. However, every so often, there is a middle novel that does more than simply continue where the first one started. Instead, it serves as a medium of improving upon the first novel, as a literary growth spurt (puberty, if you will?) that vastly raises the bar set by the first and, by extension, leaves us with great expectations for the last novel.' Read her review to see how it fares.

'Early in 1971 a concert tour arrived in Ghana, West Africa to take part in an all-day musical celebration called Soul to Soul. Artists involved included Santana, Wilson Pickett, Ike & Tina Turner, Les McCann & Eddie Harris, the Staple Singers and Voices of East Harlem. The film of this event was released in the summer of '71. It played in selected theatres, to small crowds, and then vanished into the mist.' David Kidney got a chance to view a recently released DVD edition of Soul To Soul. Read David's review and see why he says, '...you will be drawn back to this film time and again for the emotion, and for the music.'

Letters editor Craig here. It looks like John Fowles' debut novel The Collector has become required reading, because yours truly received two letters telling me just how my review got it all wrong. Read the better-educated comments of Jonny Cripps and Vitaly Sazanovich to get the real deal.

We're not perfect. Even our Master Reviewers get mixed up on occasion. Further corrections came in from Mindi Reid, regarding one of the CDs David Kidney reviewed in his 'ukulele omnibus, and from Travis Shire, about Gary Whitehouse's review of Zappa Picks. Apparently, one Peter Wolf isn't just like another. Who knew?

In contrast, most readers find little fault with what we do, and some go out of their way to praise us. Such was the case with Thane Tierney, who found several quality pieces to enjoy, Fred Litwin and Michael Mullen, who really liked that we liked their work, and Stephen Ferron, who found in our pages some information he was looking up for a friend.

With people using the Internet for information seeking, we get a lot of questions. The best ones -- with the best turnout of people in the know -- are often about less savory matters. For example, John Harrison's query about bawdy ballads led to responses from no less than five Green Man staffers -- all, apparently, experts on the dirty ditty.

Rachel Manija Brown is an expert in something else entirely: Asian entertainment. She received these letters directed at her reviews. The first is from Matt Conroy, an appreciative fan of Lone Wolf and Cub. The second, however, is a rather cryptic missive from a reader, signing herself only as 'Juliejr2', regarding Rachel's review of The Last Samurai. But our Rachel is a trouper who doesn't let a communication breakdown get in the way of polite correspondence.

Send us your particular brand of correspondence. Rants, raves, reflections, ruminations, or anything else you want to get off your chest (or, perhaps, some other, bawdier part) to this address. If nothing else, you can tell your friends you've been 'published.'

Jack 'ere. SPike is not available to write music commentary this week, as he's been working diligently (well . . . as diligently as he can, which is not all that diligently) on his autobiography. As his long suffering publicist says, 'He's up to the point where his mother left his twin brother Fred and him at the orphanage. SPike writes on an old Underwood typewriter, and the clicking and clacking of the keys is usually covered by the din from the CD player, as he relives those heady days of 1979 by playing London Calling over and over again. Yes! A biography! Read the truth about the tragic accident! Find out how the Jap Zeros came to be! See the clever art design for their first ground-breaking album! Learn about Li'l Ginger Johnson, the drummer from The Red Caps who discovered Fred and SPike playing acoustic guitars in a pub! Discover what happened to Dave Carling, Canadian blues singer who played lead guitar during the marathon sessions in Abbey Road which led to the post trauma albums! Read an interview with Angus MacTavish who owns the rights to the legendary first recordings! All this and more in SPike Tells All! or SPike In Love Or whatever it ends up being called.' Provided we can find proper security and 'nough booze for all of SPike's acquaintances, the book signing party will be held here in the Pub.

Monsieur Pantin's Ma Rosalie has been finding much playing in me office these past few months as I snagged the extra copy that piper Jean-Pierre Rasle sent along. Richard Condon sows the honours of the actual review: 'The overwhelming impression left by this CD is of an attempt to create a consciously archaic sound, with echoes of medieval and renaissance music. The pieces featuring Rasle's bagpipes strongly suggest this, with both plucked instruments adopting a suitably 'early music' sound. Sometimes when Rasle plays flute (or possibly it's a recorder) as on 'Le Randonneur' and 'Valse Nocturne,' both composed by Cobham in pseudo-trad mode, the music rather tends to tip over into retro-schmaltz, sounding like the soundtrack music from some Tudor film epic or possibly Carlos Nu–ez at his most self-indulgent. Elsewhere, the sound displays a modernity that seems in striking but admirable contrast with the prevailing mood: this is the case with Martin's schottische, '7th of the 2nd.' On the whole, the approach is a sure and musically adept one, with the three musicians, all of them hugely accomplished, melding together well to produce a consciously archaic effect. This sound has been largely missing from the popular musical scene since the disappearance of the 1970s band Gryphon, give or take occasional experiments, usually involving Philip Pickett, himself a wizard of assorted woodwind instruments. If you enjoyed Pickett's unusual one-off recording with Richard Thompson and most of Fairport Convention, The Bones Of All Men, you might find this CD agreeable listening, although it lacks the so deliciously inappropriate addition of electric guitar that made Pickett and Thompson's collaboration particularly memorable. Given the dreary and mass-produced nature of so much recorded music nowadays, such adventures as Monsieur Pantin are to be encouraged and cherished.'

David Kidney notes 'It is no longer the Year of the Blues, but new releases just keep coming. The blues now seems to be as strong as it's ever been, or stronger. I just finished reading the fine biography of Howlin' Wolf (Moanin' After Midnight) and it was heartbreaking how this king of the blues suffered in getting his music to the people, while johnny-come-lately British bands stole his music and his audience. Well, today's audience is waiting for blues music, and several labels are ready to provide the latest in authentic sounds. Telarc and Northern Blues are two of these companies, and here are three of their newest releases.' Read his review of Tab Benoit's Fever For the Bayou, The Future of the Blues collection, andJunior Brown's Down Home Chrome for all the blue-sy details!

Wayne Cochran's Get Down With It! revved David up: 'Okay! WOW! HUH! GET DOWN! Yeah! Unhuh! First you have to get a mental image of this guy! I mean it! If you never saw Wayne Cochran in person, or even on TV, or saw a picture of him...you have to know what the guy looked like. Take uh, well, Donald Trump's hair. Then bleach it WHITE, platinum. Then pile it up on top of his head three times higher than Donald's is. Put him in a shiny red suit, black puff in his jacket pocket. Skinny black tie. Now, in one hand he's holding a microphone. One of those big old Shure Unidynes. Place him in front of a band. A big band. Horns. They've all got matching tuxedos on. They're moving, all synchronized and stuff. They are pumping out a rhythm and blues song loud, no louder, LOUD! Man. 'Wow!' the guy with the platinum pompadour screams, 'GET DOWN WITH IT!' That's right. You feel yourself moving now? Are you getting the picture? It's important for you to get this before we go on. He's a white guy. His face is scrunched up as he sings, screams, the lyrics to 'Boom, Boom,' or is it 'C.C. Rider.' It's not James Brown, but he's been called 'the white James Brown.' But if Miami was your home town, and you were into R&B music in the 60s, he was The White Knight of Soul just as the subtitle of this startling new anthology from Antediluvian archivists Raven Records claims! Two dozen soul classics from 1959-1972 fill this CD. And Man! The thing just cooks!'

The performer comments in the liner notes of the Imperfect world ('Suddenly I'm forty five, I'm balding, and I've been cooped up indoors doin' these thirty second snippets of television music for the last six years...I needed to make this record like you need to breathe.') caused him to evoke a tinge of sympathy in David: 'I know the feeling. At least the forty-five (-plus) and balding part, and I've been cooped up indoors lots in those years. I needed to listen to a record like this to restore my sanity. Or to restore my confidence that people are still making records like this, anyway. The first few minutes of pure unadulterated blues rock just set me right up straight! And the drumming, on the whole record, is exactly the kind of percussion that I need to hear. Not fancy but solid, rhythmic, beautifully recorded, and serving every song well. But, no, it's not a record of drum solos. This is a songwriter's album. Peter Himmelman has been putting out records for some time now. Imperfect world is his eleventh! First one I've really heard, but it won't be the last.' Read David's Excellence in Writing Awrd winning review for the low-down on this tasty recording!

David says, hopefully, that 'You probably remember Danny O'Keefe, if you know the name at all, as the performer of the all-time classic tune 'Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues.' I think I have heard this song done by more pub-singers than any other. And it still sounds good. This collection is subtitled Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues. One guesses that it's there so prospective buyers will think, 'Oh! I know that one!' But Danny O'Keefe has a lot more great songs, and Raven has selected a choice bunch for this collection.' Go read the rest of his review of Danny's Best 1970-2000 for why you should hear this recordings!

Peter Massey took time out from working on his omnibus review of a dozen singer-songwriter recordings to review this recording: 'I had the pleasure of reviewing Henry Marten's Ghost's last album Ireland -- A Troubled Romance here on GMR in 2002. I reviewed it very favourably. High on Spirits is the band's latest album and really it carries on from where the last one left off. The album is dedicated to their fans everywhere and it is a true representation of what you can expect to hear at any Henry Marten's Ghost gig, although it is not recorded live but in a studio. Henry Marten's Ghost is in fact a true semi-professional working band, and not a specially conscripted group of professional musicians put together to produce an album and/or to work the festival circuit. Truly, this is the real thing as you can expect to hear in almost any folk club or Irish bar i`n the U.K. today. This is reflected in the band's choice of material on the album. In short, the songs and tunes are all tried and tested standards. In reality they are the songs you 'the public' like to hear and can easily identify with, -- good easy listening!'

Dana Lyn's Looking for the Early Opener and Cherish the Ladies' On Christmas Night are two recordings that, according to Lars Nilsson, show dramatically the difference between the veteran Irish players and less seasoned musicians among the Irish-Americans playing Irish music. Read his review to see why this is so!

Barbara Truex sums this recordinjg up thusly: ' The Poozies include Karen Tweed (accordion, vocal), Patsy Seddon (electro-harp, Aziliz -- a small Celtic harp, fiddle, vocal), Mary MacMaster (electro-harp, Aziliz, temple bells, clarsach, vocal), and Eilidh Shaw (fiddle, vocal). This recording is my introduction to the group and what a treat it has been to familiarize myself with their music. Of the four, only Karen Tweed has been on my radar screen because of her membership in the Swedish/British group Swap. The songs and tunes on Changed Days, Same Roots come from Sweden, Ireland, Poland, England, Scotland . . . did I get it all? They weave these traditional and contemporary pieces into a cohesive, beautiful whole with superb musicianship and singing. I love the textures they get with the harps, fiddle, and accordion. Each instrument is clearly present because of the differences in their timbres. The electro-harp, played by both MacMaster and Seddon, is particularly distinctive -- it often serves as a bass, wrapping itself around the band and giving it a luscious bottom end. Many people probably still think there is no place for an electric instrument in a 'traditional' band, but I will go to my grave begging to differ. It's all in how it is incorporated, balanced, and of course played. MacMaster and Seddon get it right as far as I'm concerned.'

John Doe lives! Not surprisingly, Gary Whitehouse is quite happy 'about his new recording: 'Since the seminal Los Angeles punk band X stopped creating new material (though it does occasional 'reunion' tours) in the mid-90s, John Doe has put out a series of somewhat erratic solo albums, sometimes under his own name, sometimes as the John Doe Thing. With a few exceptions, they've had a tendency to be overproduced and, to my taste, overwrought affairs, a bit like X's last couple of studio releases. Forever Hasn't Happened Yet is about the fifth by my tally, and notable on several accounts. It was recorded mostly live in the studio, with minimal overdubs. And it pairs him in duets with several female singers. They don't necessarily stand in for his former wife and co-singer Exene Cervenka, but they do provide good foils for his smooth, smoky voice.'

Gary reviews another recording from KGB, a Seattle-based contradance group which he noted in his review of their first two recordings, Contra-Intelligence and Volga Notions that they are 'a trio of Julie King, Clude Ginsburg and Dave Bartley, and takes its name from the initials of the group members' surnames. Their music is fairly typical of a current trend in contradance music; much of it is based on the Anglo-Celtic traditions out of which the contra dance arose, but it also contains an intriguing sprinkling of other ethnic influences, especially Balkan, French-Canadian and even some South American.' Of this recording, he notes 'With plenty of variety but no kitschy gimmicks, KGB has put together another sterling set of contradance-style music. In From The Cold will warm your heart.'

Let's see... We've got Alison Krauss & Union Station's latest recording, Lonely Runs Both Ways... Then there's two from Sugar Hill, Sean Watkins' 26 Miles and Mutual Admiration Society's debut recording, and Misty River's Willow recording. Sounds like a great assortment of bluegrass to me! Gary thinks that they work for the most part: 'Modern bluegrass has spawned a whole genre of music that is bluegrass-influenced but which more properly inhabits the realms of contemporary folk, rock, country and all the many combinations thereof. Here are several examples of more or less successful efforts.'

 

Lisa L. Spangenberg gets the final word on celebrating the advent of Spring: 'I'm living in Southern California now, so I'd say probably the dessert wild flowers, but I always get a longing for dill pickles, just fried doughnuts, and maple syrup, the Spring ritual I remember from my New Hampshire youth. These are the totems of sugarin' off, the ritual feasting that marks the end of the maple syrup season, when you've collected the last of the sap and boiled it down. You pour the hot syrup, just at the stage when it's almost starting to sugar, on fresh-fallen snow and eat the slightly warm and briefly pliable candy that forms with almost-too-hot-to-handle doughnuts and follow with crisp sour dill pickles.'

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Archived 28 October 2006, 11:48 EST (LLS)