Economists take note: I’ve found a direct correlation between the plunging stock market and the behavior of young boys. The further the market descends (and the more adults talk about it) the more boys forget about their computer games and dream of fishing, hunting and foraging. Talk of a Depression doesn’t depress them. It inspires and motivates. Consumerism, it appears, have squelched the most natural of urges.
By Sunday morning at my house this conclusion was inescapable. My 11-year-old son’s buddies, Milton, Zach and Reiss had all slept over. The living room was a tangle of mattresses, pillows and blankets. When the boys weren’t trying to suffocate one another with bedding (what is with that anyway?), they were fishing in Lake Michigan at the end of our road, picking wild grapes along the beach and attempting to slay squirrels with a BB gun. It was all to save us from starvation. Also, they were scheming for all of their families to move in together. I’m pretty sure they were picturing something like bark-covered Iroquois long houses.
By 10:30 am they were begging for waffles. They also wanted to make wild grape jelly and plans were in the works to get the families together to pick wild apples for a cider making party. One look at the kitchen and living room and I knew I didn’t have it in me to pull off wild grape jelly. (Though I’ve made it on calmer occasions—click here for my recipe). In a flash of what felt like inspiration I asked them if they’d settle for wild grape syrup on their waffles. Zach rolled off the couch in delight, Reiss jumped on Milton’s head. Out on the deck Keefer had a squirrel in his crosshairs but he yelled yum into the gun butt.
The boys gathered around the counter, stemmed the grapes and only stained the maple butcher block a little bit. We had about 2 pounds of grapes when they were through. I had them put them in a heavy pot covered with water and bring them to a boil. Then Zach mashed them through a sieve into a bowl with the back of a spoon. Back into the heavy pot they went with 2 cups of sugar. I was winging it on the amount of sugar but wild grapes are really tart so I knew we’d need plenty. Zach and Reiss stirred and stirred while the syrup bubbled away for about 10 minutes. When they assured me it was as thick as maple syrup I poured the first batch of batter into the waffle iron.
They ate—gobbled, wolfed are maybe better words—on the deck in the October sunshine. They swore they had never tasted syrup that good. Ever. They also pretty well covered themselves and their T-shirts in grape stains. Maybe I’ll put my money in BB’s and bleach.