“I got a rock,” was the continuous refrain of Charlie Brown as he looked to collect treats during Halloween. During our recent Harvest Festival at Ann’s Place, I felt somewhat like the givers of rocks to my Charlie’s as my group started to carve some small pumpkins I had brought as part of the activities. Within moments knifes started to bend under the hardness of the pumpkins.
“These knifes aren’t working,” said one client.
Initially I thought that perhaps the new knifes I purchased were to blame but after grabbing the pumpkin and knife of one client I determined that I purchased over a dozen rock-like sugar pumpkins. I since found out that sugar pumpkins are not like your standard big orange boy, soft and easy to cut with those cheap pumpkin knifes you get for $1 at the Dollar Store. Rather they are like acorn or butternut squash: hard to the knife but good eating.
But like the survivors they all are, they took the difficulties in stride. Some with the strength and dexterity required hollowed out and cut faces into their pumpkins. Others decided to use Sharpies to draw a face on waiting perhaps for a Sawzall or other appropriate power tool to make their mark. They were enjoying the challenge and the mulled cider I had made for them from scratch.
“We will be making mulling spices next month,” I said before we got carving. “What I would like each of you to do is to smell the combined spices and then each individually. You should try to consider two things. The first is whether you smell each spice in the mix. The next is which individual spices you like and which ones you do not. Those preferences will help you make a better mix next month.”
Each grabbed the jar of cinnamon, allspice, clove, orange peel, lemon peel, nutmeg and cardamom and took a deep whiff. They all liked it. Some to the point of wanting to clasp the jar to their face like a fragrant oxygen mask for dear life. But this was not the case as they sampled the individual offerings.
“This is gross.”
“I can’t smell anything.”
“I don’t like this.”
All misgivings evaporated as the warmed, mulled cider was served. Most asked for seconds. A few for thirds.
It’s times like these I get to better know my clients and understand their likes and dislikes. That was further driven home as I started to prepare dessert for the group and asked how many people wanted whipped cream with their pie or bread. Out of our group of nine, only four wanted this somewhat forbidden topping. I was a bit surprised as my whipped cream usually has people fighting over the last bits in the bowl.
What I didn’t understand is that for a bunch of reasons, many of my clients are lactose intolerant or pure vegetarian. Some of that has to do with their current treatments and others for a more healthy preference of diet. So the block of cheese to accompany the apple pie was untouched though the pie was demolished. Something to consider for future meals.
As we all cleaned up I thought about how the session went and how it could be improved upon in the future. But as I looked at everyone who was bringing home an extra piece of pie for a loved one or all the pumpkins in different stages of dismemberment, I decided that perhaps I was being too critical upon myself as they all had smiles on their faces as they made their way out the building into the crisp autumnal air.