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On the Stick

You have to admire the Seattle spirit. Gifted with weather patterns that would drive other communities into a state of permanent funk, the residents of this city manifest a water-resistant resilience that refuses to bow to the elements.

I’m thinking of the weather today because it’s Memorial Day, a day to honor our heroes and open our swimming pools. At least that’s how they do it back in Virginia. Before the last echoes of the military bands fade in the air you hear the happy squeals of children cannonballing into the deep end. They have different traditions here in the great Northwest. One of them is the Folklife Festival which fills the Seattle Center with the sounds of  music and the scent of fried food every Memorial Day weekend. But, as we discovered last weekend, you don’t have to wait for the Folklife Festival to get your pig on a stick. Or chocolate covered strawberries sandwiched with whipped cream on a stick. Or, if you really must, fried tofu on a stick.

The stick is what matters. So long as whatever you are dripping onto your shirt is stuck on a stick, you can hold your head high among the throng of festival goers. Just watch where you point the stick.Why is it that anything on a stick seems more festive than ordinary food? I imagine it harkens back to that campfire mystique, where  we all huddled at one time or another, roasting hot dogs or marshmallows on a stick and singing songs off key. It’s a short shimmy across time from that primitive bonding experience to the group hug of a street festival. We shuffle along the pavement, eyeing the trinkets, the crockery, the crocks. It’s all good.

The great thing about a freeform street festival is that most of us approach it without any agenda. We don’t go there to accomplish objectives, to meet goals, to make quotas. It’s all about diversion, gentle goodwill, merriment. And, of course, things on sticks. Despite its inherent versatility as a food delivery device, however, not all edibles can be stick shifted. If they did you would see mac and cheese on a stick. Maybe someone has already tried this. I imagine there would be technical difficulties to overcome. And not all foods gain appeal through stickdom. A hard boiled egg on a stick, for instance, would be too austere. But, cover it with melted cheese, roll it in toasted cracker crumbs and give it a catchy name – perhaps a Chegger – and you could be on to something.

The festival state of mind allows such creative cross breeding of tastes. Maybe it’s something about being on the street, without the damn cars in the mix. We see things differently. When the street is closed, our minds are open.And not just in terms of food. We festival goers sometimes indulge ourselves by purchasing items which fall outside the categories of the useful or necessary. At the festival, this is okay. We don’t care. Sometimes you just have to buy a small stuffed red dragon. Or a balloon hat. People at a festival seem so open to trying new things that I’m considering getting a booth for next year’s event. I’m working on my product now. It’s a book actually, which I’m self-publishing this summer, a fantasy romance with an environmental edge that I think could have some appeal for gardeners looking for a little light reading after a day of digging. I haven’t had any luck persuading the conventional publishers to take a chance on my little novel. But, I’ve got high hopes for my own marketing strategy.

Coming soon to a festival near you: Stick Lit.You know you’ll want one.

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