Today was market day in the village. The streets are closed, stalls are erected and local farmers and artisans display and vend their wares. It is a very popular event that comes about every second Sunday during the summer and draws people from quite some distances away. There is music, a man making balloon animals, face painting, an eclectic array of food vendors, a fortune teller and two cockatoos. I avoid the birds as any interaction I have had with them in the past has ended in bloodshed. Mine. A few of the stalls offer delights that sever my bond with time, transporting me back to my childhood. Tourtieres, butter tarts, Indian curries, old fashioned root beer and a local service club promoting their bathtub races take turns taunting my imagination and reminding me of the simple joys of youth.. The scent of fresh cut cucumber conjures my ample Greek babysitter who took care of me when I was too young to go to school. The tinny jingle of a travelling ice cream truck has me running down the streets of my childhood, coins clasped damply in my hand, hollering for him to stop.
Although all these temptations called to me, I had come for a different ambrosia. I had been overcome by a strong desire for fudge and was well aware that there was one single vendor that offered the solution to my craving. When I was young, my mother would make homemade fudge. She would boil brown sugar and just a little water together until the blob she pinched and dropped into a glass of water coalesced into an acceptably sticky ball as she manipulated it between her fingers. She would add some butter, a little salt, some cream and a few drops of Mapleline, an artificial maple extract before pouring it into a pan to cool. The wait was tortuous but the sweet reward was always worth it. I did not expect to find the fudge my mother used to make, but hoped for a reasonable substitute. I approached the stall and noticed a Maple Walnut fudge that would probably suffice. I asked for a small square to take home and as the woman was preparing it for me I mentioned that my mother made brown sugar fudge when I was young. She stopped abruptly and said, “Well, you might like this then” and reached for an unmarked variety in the case. As she did so she reset the little sign naming the fudge that had fallen to the side. “Old Fashioned Brown Sugar Fudge” it declared. I smiled. She cut a small piece for me to taste and stated her hope that it lived up to my mother’s legacy.
I took the morsel and placed it in my mouth. In one small bite I was whisked away to another place and time. Memories flooded in awakening sensations long since lost. Images danced in my mind and history’s song played in my ears. The fudge was perfect. My mother could have made it, I was certain. Joy blossomed in me for a short time. This was a gift. “I’ll have some of that”, I said.
I will not drink today because alcohol could never accomplish what that fudge did.
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