Granola Burgers, January 8, 2019
It’s pouring down rain here in Sonoma County, California this
January night. I’ll be 67 next month, but back in the winter of
’71/’72 I was a young man in South Dakota living in a big yellow
We hippies had fled Lincoln, Nebraska and headed north to the
Missouri River Valley outside of Vermillion, SD on the bluff road. We
lived in a big Yellow Farmhouse.
There was a wood burning cast iron stove in every room, and for
good reason. That winter it got down to -36F and there was frost on
the inside of the windows when we woke up in the morning.
We slept in insulated coveralls in sleeping bags in our rooms. We
had our long hair for some insulation, but most of us wore stocking
caps to bed as well.
The running water quit long ago. One of us would go down to the
sump cellar to beat on the water pump with a hammer to get it
going for awhile (we had a cistern for water), but eventually the
pump gave out and we quit buying water from the local water
company to feed the cistern. Which was full of creepy crawly frogs
and whatever. We showered in town at the college dorms.
We used the chicken coop for the other bodily functions. We’d dug a
rudimentary hole. We kept the toilet seat in the kitchen of the
farmhouse above the propane heater to keep it warm. One would
grab the toilet seat and head to the chicken coop to do one’s
And of course we kept running out of propane as we were poor
hippies with little income in a very cold winter on the Northern
But we had the beautiful ceramic wood stove in the kitchen. It
worked great! I’d chop up the wood and the hippie chicks cooked
the food. These women were into healthy food. So they cooked
vegan. There favorite every day meal was granola burgers.
They’d put together these patties of oats and veggies and fry them
up in a big cast iron skillet on the stove.
Us guys all complained. I am reminded of Sam Gange complaining
about the Elfin Bread in Lord of the Rings. It was really boring
tasteless vegan food.
But the kitchen smelled very good from the wood stove. We did have
electricity, which kept the stereo going with “Mountain” and other
classics. It never shut up. There was only one TV station that we
could get with the rabbit ears.
And the snow came. And the cold came. And we chopped the wood
and kept the truck’s battery in the kitchen to keep it warm. We had
no refrigerator and needed none. The whole damned place was a
We ate lettuce sandwiches. Cheese was a luxury. Miracle Whip was a
necessity. And we had the Budweiser in the long neck returnable
bottles when we could afford to go down to Meckling to buy them.
I felt like I was in hibernation. Jeans and flannel shirts over long
underwear. Insulated coveralls, with the flap in the back for bodily
functions was the norm to wear.
Spring did come eventually.
The long winter was over.