Friday, July 13, 2007

On a summer day in the month of May a burly bum came hiking
Down a shady lane through the sugar cane, he was looking for his liking.
As he roamed along he sang a song of the land of milk and honey
Where a bum can stay for many a day, and he won't need any money

Oh the buzzin' of the bees in the cigarette trees near the soda water fountain,
At the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings on the Big Rock Candy Mountains.
~ Big Rock Candy Mountain -
"Haywire Mac" McClintock

It's always been one of my favorite old-time music songs. I remember it playing in my grandparents house and it always brought a giggle. As a child, I wasn't much interested in the cigarette trees or the lake of gin, but the lemonade springs and the not changing your socks bit was intriguing.

I think, though, it was the little box of rock candy that my grandmother kept in her upper dresser drawer that gave the song meaning for me. It's the only sweet thing I remember her giving me. My grandfather and I were always sneaking off together to get Baby Ruth and Butterfinger bars to eat while we fed the squirrels and pigeons at Forsythe Park in Savannah. But my grandmother only kept this little sweet in her dresser and doled the little crystals out like gem stones. We would walk to Clary's Drug store and purchase them. Then they would be put carefully away in the same spot in her bedroom.

I'm not so sure why they were so special to me. It's not as though I was a stranger to sugar. Maybe it's because they came from her and were made to seem so special.

If you'd like a fun project to try with your children, you can make rock candy at home. It's an excellent lesson in crystal formation for those of you who are homeschooling. Or just for fun for those of you who aren't. Michigan History, Arts and Libraries has excellent directions HERE. It's great to add red and green coloring to use for Christmas.

And...after the kids have enjoyed their fun and gone to bed...rock candy syrup is a must have for many cocktail recipes. And if you make your own rock candy swizzles, they are great in coffee, tea or champagne cocktails.

Mojito Andaluso

1.25 oz Rum
0.25 oz Cream Sherry
4 Mint Tops
Juice of 1 Lime
2 Spoons Canned Pineapple
0.25 oz Rock Candy Syrup
Ginger ale

Muddle the mint, lime juice, and pineapple with the rock candy syrup in a shaker. Add the rum, sherry, and ice. Fill with ginger ale, roll, and serve (do not strain). Garnish with a sugarcane stick, fresh mint, and pineapple. could just do your own "Rock and Rye".

Yes...the lake of gin makes perfect sense now.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, you never change your socks
And little streams of alcohol come a-trickling down the rocks
The brakemen have to tip their hats and the railroad bulls are blind
There's a lake of stew and of whiskey too
And you can paddle all around 'em in a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains the jails are made of tin,
And you can walk right out again as soon as you are in
There ain't no short-handled shovels, no axes, saws or picks,
I'm a-goin' to stay where you sleep all day
Where they hung the jerk that invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

I'll see you all this comin' fall in the Big Rock Candy Mountains!

1 Comment:

  1. Chris said...
    Rosie, I think the first time I heard of rock candy was in an episode of "The Flintstones" called "Fred Flintstone Woos Again." Does your big sis' like rock candy or any other sweets?

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