Pimento Shortages

This is your Community Bulletin for the week of June 19th, 2016

After a couple of weeks of pretty unseasonable temperatures, this past week has been pretty nice, and the gardens have loved the additional rain. Amma Johnson, known around here for her amazing green thumb, has just finished getting her sweet potatoes in the ground. Until she came to town, nobody around here realized you could grow sweet potatoes in this part of the state. Amma’s garden, up on the north ridge, is pretty amazing, but if you haven’t had a tour of her fungus cellar, you really should. The things she manages to grow in there just don’t seem natural. Amma’s skill is amazing, and she hopes to see some blue ribbons this autumn when the fair comes around.

One thing Amma can’t grow enough of is Pimento. We do go through a lot of it around here and the bountiful crop from a single garden sure doesn’t go far.

Folks new to town see the bottom shelf of the refrigerator door loaded with jars of pimento cheese spread and grimace. Thing is, the stuff grows on you. It’s something like the Vegemite of our town. So much so, that it is the de facto thank-you gift for when the Gemstone Fairy visits your house. And I think we can all speak from experience that you do not want to appear rude if the Gemstone Fairy shows up. At best, you might hurt someone’s feelings, and at worst, your neighbors might assume you lack the decency to show the sort of reciprocity that binds a small community like ours together. They may assume you don’t want to participate in our little game of gift-giving.

Friday night saw a lot of visits from the Gemstone Fairy around town and just about every household had something waiting for them on their porch in the morning. Mayor Amundsen  was left an impressive jasper, which he spent most of the day slabbing, and the Historical Society was left a large mass of sedimentary material filled with plant fossils. Even the work crew staying at the motel were left shiny agates as souvenirs of their stay in our town.

Such widespread good will caught a lot of us by surprise and Stumpy’s ran out of pimento spread, bottled pimentos, and even pimento loaf within the first hour of opening. This lead to some heated debate between The Council of Old Guys and the Town Council as to what should be done about this civic emergency. After much deliberation and diet soda, it was decided to add a line-item budget item each quarter for a pimento spread reserve, to be held in trust with the Historical Society, to be released to Stumpy’s at current wholesale price should this emergency crop up again. It was also decided that Art and Dave would drive to Lincoln City and Salem, respectively, and buy up a few cases each. For their efforts, the Town Council even agreed to throw in gas money.

Well, Saturday afternoon was a flurry of sandwich making at the Natural History museum as volunteers made about 700 white-bread-and-pimento-spread sandwiches and shared notes on what the Gemstone Fairy had brought them. Afterwards, members of the Town Council delivered all the sandwiches. Now we all had something to leave out for our friends and neighbors for such unexpected and delightful gifts.


Now, newcomers and outsiders may read this, scratching their heads and ask “But, wait now, if you all gave each other these gifts, then all came together in an act of civic unity to make the sandwiches and get them out to everybody, then why wouldn’t you just eat the sandwiches?” But that just isn’t how it works, and it would take some of the fun out of things. We are each our own Gemstone Fairy and can eat all of the sandwiches we can make. But it is nice to give things and nice to receive things, and that’s part of what makes this town home.

This week’s community Bulletin made possible by a financial gift from the Leverite Historical Society, where history isn’t just just what has been, but what has been again.