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Story ID:1024
Written by:Kathe M. Campbell (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Trading Post Nameless USA
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Buffalo Cider
by Kathe Campbell

Once upon a few Octobers ago, I tossed bales of straw out near our front gate and set old ma and pa farmers upon them with their pumpkins and corn stalks to greet all. The folks on our road said it was a feel-good custom delighting their travels to and from work for more years than they could recall. Pumpkin cookies and a few carrot cakes were in the freezer, it being my turn to host the local pinochlers. But the evening wouldn't be complete without serving up apple cider to die for. We barely had time to make the annual run to the Indian reservation for their home made, none of that store-bought watered down stuff.

Southbound geese honked and winged in vee formation through the long valleys as we drove north. If Mother Nature was an actress, the scenes would have been her finest moments with willows and aspens giving way to frosty nights and orangey foliage along the great divide.

Traffic and scenery more sparse, we turned onto a two-laner and within minutes were parking at the Indian Trading Post. While I shopped for another colorful rug to sling over the loft logs, Ken busied himself at the fruit and vegetable market. I noted the gallon jugs of apple juice to be particularly cloudy that day, but shook it off thinking the stuff needed to settle.

While wandering out to snap a young buffalo calf and it's mama, war chants penetrated the crisp fall air from behind the grocery building. There to my shocking eyes appeared three young Indian braves in swim shorts, I think, stomping bare footed on rotten apples in a big wooden tub. I pretended to be more enthralled with the buffalo while taking sneak peeks at their project, this time noting a little raven-haired kid turning some sort of press. Now and then one of the lads jumped from the tub onto bare ground that was littered with great piles of buffalo dung. He retrieved a hose to water down the monster mash, then jumped back in the tub while rows of gallon jugs sat like fat soldiers waiting to be filled. Surely not with that mess of juicy buffalo chips, I trusted.

Wrong! A cork was pulled from the tub while apple juice strained through an ungodly looking bunch of rags into a metal wash tub. Oh my God, I nearly blurted aloud, do I believe what I'm seeing? Out came the plastic tubing after the mixture was juust right! With one end in the wash tub and the other gravity sucked by a dark bronzed native kid, out rolled cloudy buffalo style apple juice into the jugs.

A fellow traveler walked along with me as I took photos until she too noted the young braves happily whooping it up. "Are those lads stomping on those oozing rotten apples in those boxes?" And with that, the woman fled the scene to take her husbands arm in retreat while loudly issuing up a non-stop rant.

Well now, I pondered, if this is the reservation's answer to dung enhanced apple juice, I best get a gander of the cider touted as "home made from our own apples." My tummy did a couple turns just as Ken was paying for a half dozen jugs of beautifully bronzed gallons of cider. But sickening doubt crept over me contemplating the witches' brew behind the store.

"Ken, can I see you for a minute dear, it's urgent."

"Wha wha wha, don't pull me away, Kathe, I need to pay for the cider."

"Ken, please, let's put the jugs back, I need to talk to you."

I all but drug Ken out to our truck to relate my grueling tale. Well, of course, that wasn't good enough, he had to see for himself. So I handed him the camera and told him to go visit the buffalo while I sat in the truck and watched. It didn't take him long to pick up on the local version of "home made" as he returned, laughing aloud and shaking his head in disbelief.

"That's the funniest thing I've seen in ages," he sputtered in-between high-pitched cackles. "And to think we've been drinking that crap all these years!"

"Now do you intend to go back inside and buy their buffalo cider to die for?" I teased.

"Nope, not today," as he jumped back in the truck with our various purchases. "By the way, Kath, don't open the jar of "home made" huckleberry jam I bought. That just might be our undoing."