May I Borrow a Cup of Sugar?

Tomorrow’s forecasted snow is number five? Six? I can’t remember. At any rate, there’s already plenty, thank you very much, of snow on the ground. I walked in my snowshoes thirty yards or so to check the culvert and it wore me out, the snow was so deep (although to be fair to myself, I was coming down with a cold).

In the food department, I find myself leaning toward making dinners that are heavy on the carbs—no surprise there, since we spend huge amount of calories outdoors just shoveling and hauling wood and whatnot. So last week, I decided to make baked beans in the oven for dinner and as I was assembling the ingredients—maple syrup that was a gift from a friend’s farm, onions and garlic from the garden, bacon from the farm a half-mile away—I dug out the molasses and realized two things: one, molasses really is slow in January (or February) and two, I had just enough for the recipe. I wondered, had I not had enough, what I would do, since driving to the nearest store, even when it’s not snowing, is still almost an hour’s commitment of time. Then I thought, well, of course, I would ask my neighbors up the road if they had any.

Way back when, when stores weren’t close or transportation so readily available, neighbors really did borrow a cup of sugar or a few tablespoons of molasses to finish up a recipe if they found themselves short. And they supplied to their neighbors as well, when it came to it. So that old saying about borrowing a cup of sugar is based on an agrarian truth, like so many of our adages. It reveals the heart of a community, underscored in a rough winter. Asking for a hand: It’s what people do when they have to and it’s what people give, when they’re asked.

P.S. For a passionate, poetic view of  life in the country, in the winter, see Ben Hewitt’s blog. 

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2 thoughts on “May I Borrow a Cup of Sugar?

  1. That’s a lovely picture and concept. I’ve heard about that cup of sugar, but never borrowed or lent such. But the snow does bring out some care and helping; we do get to living closer to the bone, us versus the elements, and those hands do get lent, which is the grace. Now back to grumbling.

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