My mom, Irene, was a great cook. However, she had one conspicuous culinary flaw that weighed heavily on many parts of Story County, Iowa.
She loved to make holiday popcorn balls. They were red and green and huge (think of the size of a croquet ball, then double it). There she stood at the kitchen table, singing along with Bing Crosby’s hit, “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” while meticulously shaping her popcorn balls. Irene’s secret was applying her own creation, a Karo-like gluey substance that held her masterpieces together forever.
Problem number one: In time, an hour or so, Irene’s colossal popcorn balls were heavy and impenetrable.
Problem number two: Everyone around the county loved my mother and knew the pride she had in her popcorn balls. Friends heaped praise on her handiwork.
Meanwhile, my mom believed she had a real winner to share in Ames, Boone and the surrounding areas. She labored day and night, filling tubs full of her popcorn balls and gifting them to neighbors, friends, schools, churches, bridge clubs, scout camps — I mean everywhere. It was a banner year for dentists.
Years later, if you were out for a ride in Story County, you would spot red and green decorative balls lining driveways or delineating the boundaries of community parking lots. On a seldom used rural road, you might look in awe at acres of my mom’s famous red and green popcorn balls, even overshadowing the beautiful wild sunflower patches.
The moral of this story: Encourage those you hold dear to fulfill their passion. The world needs more love — and red and green popcorn balls.
*A wee bit of poetic license was applied for this blog.