Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ramp Time in Springfield, Vermont - Fancy News

The ramp follows a circuitous path on it's way from Secret Springfield, Vermont, to the tables of Boston, where it is served as a rare and wild treat - one that is more so because it is most delightfully and innocently subject to good old-fashioned seasonal availability, and not to be as commonly had as peaches from "afar" or grapes from Australia. It bears noting also that unlike the ramps dug by the ancient Egyptians, the latter day Vermonters dig their ramps in the chilled and well-watered flats during a short window of opportunity after Mud Season and before the general leafing-out.

In cold rains they arrive ready to hunt the elusive ramp, they search deep in the wild interior, in secluded places where wood nymphs can still have a dance or a ring, and it is here that they find the cold wet stony beds where they select and dig each perfect and succulent ramp - one by lovely one, as no machine performs this special harvest that the Vermonter knows by heart. Bent to the work for hours at a time, putting off the luxury of even a short break in the vehicle because of the enormity of the task that would certainly be the return to such hard work from any break out of the sleety rain, one perfect and succulent ramp after the other is dug free from the earth in it's turn, collected with the rest in the almost anachronous plastic bucket, all made ready for the finishing trim and sluice. Each ramp is it's own mini-ecology, a small world invariably presided over each by it's own now indignant worm, who must certainly support a yet smaller host of smaller and smaller creatures who depend on the largess of the "Great Ramp" in one primordial way or another - their entire culture and society soon to wash away with it's native sands, in a great deluge, in the fresh brook, in the dusk.
And then? A dark night ride North, to Central Vermont, to suffer there in the hands of strangers the commercial indignity of colder examination, weighing, trading, and riding once again with yet another set of strangers, finally South, to Boston, to a delicious end as suppers and dinners, perhaps even as tasty stews and chowders.
The ramp, rare and delicious onion of the Vermont Woodlands - it's yearly odyssey never fails to astound.

Illustration to follow.