Friday, October 23, 2015

Baked Beans - Part One - "Plague These Nuances"


Baked Beans

Part One

"Plague These Nuances"

            “Isn’t it time”... Peter Rabbit said... “for her to be making her baked beans?”.  He said this without looking back at me; over his shoulder.  He was wearing his little blue jacket too.
            His jacket was made in Mexico many years ago (1940’s).  I’d made him show me its maker’s label... many years ago.  It said “Reliance” “Ensenada”.  Reliance is the maker company.  Ensenada is in Baja California.  Peter (Rabbit) acquired his blue jacket when he found it ‘left behind’ in a blueberry camp cabin... many years ago.  Someone had left it behind in the camp cabin and Peter Rabbit took it?  Yes.  He wore it ever after.
            Until he died.
            Many years ago

            Peter Rabbit is dead.
            His jacket still hangs in his cabin?
            Yes it does?
            No.  I sold it.
            They burned his cabin.  “Infested” they said.  I never found out:
            “Infested with what?”
            That’s what happens to men like Peter Rabbit.  “He didn’t even have any teeth”.

            He did have a rifle.  But that disappeared.  When I went into his cabin there was very little left... of the very little Peter Rabbit had.  His boots:  I sold those.  His bench.  He made that.  I sold that.  His pantry; an “Eskimo Rubbers” box (wooden packing crate) stood on end and divided into thirds by wooden shelves.  He made.  A cast iron frying pan.  A coffee kettle.  A folding knife.  Coffee cup.  Plate.  A framed photograph of a Moose up on Benton Brook taken just before he shot it.
            I sold all that.  Except the folding knife.  That disappeared.  You don’t even know where Benton Brook is, do you.
            It’s ‘up there’... ‘a piece’.

            When Peter (Rabbit) asked after the baked beans that my wife was, in fact, baking right then... I don’t think it was quite forty years ago.  Maybe it was only thirty-five.  Years ago.  You weren’t born yet.  But my wife was baking her beans that day.  Absolutely clear to me still.  He’d set himself up to ...set me up... to be just the exact only moment when HE knew SHE would with ME too BE... all gathered around.  It was three thirty in the afternoon of a middle fall “dark by six” afternoon leaving... Peter Rabbit a “strong hour” before we ate “supper”... of
            My wife’s baked-all-that-day... with molasses and salt pork...
            Baked beans.

            Yes it was just the sort of rascal-in-the-carrot-patch marked skill Peter Rabbit was well understood by I to be able to accomplish.  He had probably sniffed by the house earlier that day with, actually in fact, ‘his nose to the wind’.  Didn’t that just be what Peter Rabbit, wearing his little blue jacket, would be one to do? 
Of course it would be.
            And I could expect his well timed arrival to be, too... a venture of purpose.

            It was and barter was and he had his blue jacket on too.  That rascal.  “How did you purloin those?” I asked him and he offered no summary so after a few minutes I asked him again.  He’d already delegated “two dollars each for all” and assured me he’d “Paid one dollar each for all” and
            I didn’t really care where he got the damn things but I did care...
            Or is it denote... how well tied he bartered that “TOO”; there would be a “BOLD” (Peter Rabbit’s word) helping of “her beans” “with the (salt pork) wedge” “on top” “too”.  He, of the second ‘ask about where’ was better feeling and told as to how he’d helped close the Cheever’s cottage the day before and “these” “she “ “wanted out”.  That means they were probably actually already ‘out’; THROWN OUT.  All twelve of them.  But he swore they were a “dollar each for all”.
            Considering that Peter (Rabbit) would have only been paid HALF THAT by Cheever’s ($6.00) for his ‘help’; (they were notoriously tight), Peter (Rabbit) wearing his blue jacket would be hard pressed to get these twelve out of the carrot patch without using all of his ‘available funds’.  So “thrown out’ made ‘the sense’.
            Cheever’s cottage made sense too:  “They don’t know what they’re doing down there do they.”
            Peter (Rabbit) said nothing to that.  Peter ‘needed them’... even at their paltry six dollars.  He was a rascal but they were just plain wretched.
            If you ask me.  And I know you won’t.

            “Them’s SAMPLES.  You ever eat one?”
            “Sometime ago they were around.”
            “Sometime ago them be what they give you out”.
            “I know.  Fairs.  Restaurant.  Beach bakes.  Lobster-corn-beans.”
            “Never often got me one.  Once.  Whole tray of FOUR.  Took three and HIDE those then stood off ate the one.”
            “Pretty much that.  They (the eater of the beans) always keep the jars”.
            “Too sweet I say and never burnt down.  Always FLAT (taste flat; each bean all the same).  I like that fire in the hole (opened top high hot bake finish).  UP TOP dig down in and that top BURNED too.  The bottom MUSH.  Not too sugar.  And the porky (salt pork wedge).  Didn’t you say she would?”
            She did.  We did.  He (Peter Rabbit) left his “jars” and “TOOK OFF” twenty-four dollars and a “small bucket would be okay” of “her beans” with the salt pork wedge “set” on top.  Thirty-five years ago.  At least.

            But it come back up to me yesterday.  “Didn’t she!” to quote old dead Peter Rabbit... still wearing his little blue jacket... out there somewhere.  It come back up “didn’t she” because of the jars.

            “Them damn jars”.  I sold them then to... whatever her name was.  That she was doing then; PAINTING the little bean pots SOMETHING.  She said.  I didn’t care and sold them all to her for THREE dollars each.  Not much of anything to that then.  She was at the end of the street up past the common.  Now her old damn house has been all done over by some FOOL.  She died.  Years ago now.  Benton Pond, at the head of Benton Brook is off limits too.  But no one died up there that I know of.
            Anyway.  Her kids are still around.  And one of ‘em has me down.  Yesterday.  There ain’t nothing; not a piece of art ever touch that soul.  So her damn living room is so fixed modern I said “Let’s go where you BAIL IT and TRY THAT”.  “Where’s that?” she says.  I say “Up the brook and into the POND”.  “There’s no POND” she says.  “OKAY GARAGE” I say.  Back of the garage we go.  That’s where all the damn fools keep their GOOD art anyway.  Right?

            So I pick the bones out there and sure I can tell that this is “MOM’S” old stuff but... she didn’t ever have a rifle so that couldn’t disappear.  Shotgun maybe?  “OK”.  I rummage them boxes for anything and that’s when I found the old POTS (“jars”).  I bought those right back for a dollar each.  “There we go.” I said.  “That’s FAIR and SQUARE”.  I knew right then what they were.  You know:  They are Peter Rabbit’s bean pots.  In a box in the back of her
            Friggen garage.

            Now these little bean pots are ‘one serving’ marked “Supplied By” “Burnham & Morrill, Portland, Maine”.  That’s B&M BEANS.  Their current selection of cans and jars of baked beans are in the grocery stores for sale right now.  The B&M bean factory is on your right as you leave Portland on Tukey Bridge when your going north to ... L.L. Beans.  These jars are old little give-away premiums; one serving .  They have always “been kept” and are often filled from a big bean pot and served by a hostess; one pot per place, as a “MAINE” dining treat.  That serving is generally well received, remembered, spoken of and ‘bake bean chat’ discussed.  It is a homemaker’s OWN “I MADE” BEANS that are served in the jars.  NO COMMERCIAL beans are used to ‘refill’ the jars.  “I MADE THEM” is the defining statement.  The little pots (“jars”) are washed and “saved for the next time.”  Obviously, there is an established ‘small money’ commercial market for the little jars.  “They sell”; one by one or, as in this case, a box of twelve.  The ‘in the know’ ‘know’ of this market.  No one else does.  But you do now.  You still don’t know where Benton Brook is so you’s WON’T be shooting a moose ‘up there’ this fall.  Or any fall.

            The “what is your recipe?” is “for beans” is a pretty simple.  Dump overnight-in-water soaked  beans, molasses, salt pork wedge and water-to-the-pot-top (a real bean pot) and “bake the beans” all day or ...all night (beans for breakfast) (I know; “you haven’t”) and... that’s it... except for separating the ‘wedge’ out to ...EAT and taking the lid off ‘at the end’ to ‘burn’ the top of the beans and... other peevish nuance (like ‘what kind of dried beans’) perfected in places like Benton Pond (at the head of Benton Brook).  Maine. Your not going to have to “plague” these nuances in your lifetime unless ‘you’s go to eating a powerful amount of beans’... in your lifetime.

            It’s best to just take what I’ve given you here and ‘make it fit’.  That includes buying commercial ‘made in Maine’ baked beans to just skip over all of this.  I never do that.  Peter Rabbit didn’t ever either.  And that man knew his beans.

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