May is the month of fresh greens. My yard being full of dandelions, I was pulling the robust plants out by the roots, and recalled how I gathered the leaves when I was very young. On uncut areas the dandelion plants would be a foot high, green and robust. I was sent to gather supper salad, with instructions to go where our dog did not mark the territory. We could do without yellow collie dressing. The first tender young leaves were eaten raw as any salad greens. I was not pleased to find out how big a bucket full I had to pick to make what Mother called a 'mess of greens for supper' and had to go out several times to fill the quota.

Animated Butter Churn

That kept me out of mischief for a while anyway. Mother shredded them slightly and wilted them with hot bacon grease and vinegar. My mouth waters when I think of them.

As the season grew warmer and the leaves larger, they were cooked as collard or beet greens and eaten warm with melted butter, salt and vinegar. Always with home made bread and butter.

As I grew older I even churned the butter. We had a tall Red Wing crock - Red Wing, Minnesota, was famous for its durable household pottery in those days - with a flat wooden cover. A center hole allowed the handle of the plunger to slide up and down, which was the mechanism that turned the cream into butter. The cream turned to butter when whipped and that would happen if, and only if, power was applied continuously and vigorously to slide the plunger up and down. My skinny little arms grew strong as I supplied that power - under protest, I must confess.

A straight round stick, as in broom stick, will slide up and down through a specifically made hole with little effort. But the round stick was attached to a wooden plus-shaped piece of wood that added an awful lot of friction and shoving that down deep into twelve inches of cream took a great deal of effort. Keeping up the continuously vigorous pace was long hard work. The amount of time it took seemed endless. I would get tired and sticky while trying to irritate the oily molecules into bonding in total rebellion. But bond they eventually did, resulting in globs of butter, delightful to the palate, doubly delightful when spread over home made bread or melted into hot steamy vegetables.

Naomi Sherer


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