Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Highlandville Waltz

Last night our neighbor, who had been wringing his hands for days over successfully making home-made ice cream, finally gave in to his 2-yr old and whipped up some extraordinary strawberry ice cream. And he shared with us!

That first spoonful of fresh strawberry flavor was um,um good. It brought back some special memories of Highlandville, a little hamlet in NE Iowa, the summer dances, and the Big Canoe Lutheran Church Strawberry Festival and Ice Cream Social. Several days back in a post about the Sattre General Store, I promised a story about strawberries. This seems like a good post for today since people are again sharing fotos of their fresh harvest.

When I lived in Decorah, every Saturday night during the summer, there was a dance at the old Highlandville country school. The youngest band member was in his late 60's and the oldest, the fiddler, was pushing 90. The Highlandville Players had entertained those attending these dances for years. I had the time of my life, dancing with strangers and with friends, with my doctor, my dentist, and my accountant, all in one night! All that dancing generated a lot of heat, so cold beer from the coolers strapped in the pickup beds and moonshine passed in quart jars were welcomed refreshments during the stroll outside to cool off.

In late June, Big Canoe Lutheran Church would hold its annual Strawberry Festival and Ice Cream Social. Again, there was music from the Highlandville Players. There were beautiful white tents set up in the gardens around the church. And there was strawblicious home-made ice cream, strawberry shortcake (with home-baked biscuit cakes), strawberry angel food cake, strawberry-rhubarb pie, big bowls of fresh, whole strawberries, and strawberry pop from Spring Grove Bottlers.

Those church ladies sure knew a thing or two about fresh, home-grown food and how to throw a party. People came from far and wide to this little church out in the middle of nowhere to celebrate the goodness of this earth.

I checked the church calendar this year, hoping maybe to catch the festival when I journeyed up to NE Iowa for BioBlitz 2009. They still have their ice cream social, but no mention of strawberries. I caught a note on their website that the membership numbers are at their lowest ever. It seems that all those church ladies are no longer in their strawberry patches, or in the church kitchen serving up their strawberry-rhubarb pie, but perhaps out back in the cemetery, watching over all those who came to socialize and eat their bowls of plain old vanilla ice cream.

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