Growing up Adirondack by Mitch Lee

Consequences of impromptu parsnip battle well worth it

It was a warm morning as we exited the Inlet Elementary School for recess. All the boys ran like crazy for the playground for a game of kickball.

While we were picking teams we got a bit distracted when one of the older boys discovered a large patch of parsnips growing behind the school.

He pulled a few of them up by their leafy tops.

I watched as he rubbed off the dirt on the leg of his blue jeans and took a big bite.

It wasn’t long before we all joined him in pulling up and eating those creamy white vegetables.

The first one I yanked was cold to the touch.

I wiped off the dirt with my hands and snapped off its wispy tentacles that appeared to be more like hair than plant material.

I wasn’t sure I would even like its taste, so my first bite was quite small.

I found it to have a uniquely crisp and clean flavor with a slight bite.

I soon had two or three more pulled and eaten.

The whole group of us sat on the hillside, talking and eating.

None of us were bothered that our bottoms were dampened by the dewy tall grass.

We were just happily enjoying our find on that perfect fall morning.

Thoughts of our kickball game were completely forgotten when someone discovered that parsnips made great missiles.

Soon we were all pulling and throwing them as fast as we could and The Great Inlet Parsnip War commenced.

A good-sized one hit me square on the side of my head.

The dirt clung to my face as I hurled two or three at the victim closest to me.

The ruckus must have startled our teachers inside the school.

One of them came running out and shouted at us as if we were committing some sort of a crime.

Because we were all covered in dirt, there was no way of hiding our involvement in the incident.

We all lost our recess privileges for a week, which at the time I thought to be well worth it. 

Mitch Lee, Adirondack native & storyteller, lives at Big Moose

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