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Almonds and Sunday Dresses

Almonds and Sunday Dresses

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One of my fondest and most favourite childhood memories is lingering, after confirmation classes at St Mary’s Anglican Church at Pembroke on Sundays, to gather, pound and eat all the almonds, that had fallen from the big trees growing in the churchyard and at the church gate.

Hello freedom and autonomy! Hello guilty pleasure! The way was now clear. There was no mother, nor other adult to scold and remind my bond sisters and I that pounding almonds leads to the squishing and squirting of the juice on our beautiful Sunday dresses, with the resulting destruction and ruin of our lovely church dresses, by myriads of stains all over them, and the likely loss of fingers.
Of course I had to be extremely careful that none of the juice went on my dress, because I most definitely had to go home sometime after my escapade and explain the reason for the stain or stains and appearance of my “good clothes.” It would not be half as bad if it were your “home clothes” but, for sure, not your “Sunday best”.

How could I ever explain why, having just left my confirmation class where I was being taught to be good, pious, holy and obedient was I now indulging in such behaviour. This has got to be the greatest breach of all good judgment and reasoning. What would have made this situation even worse was that I already knew that such an activity was a forbidden pastime. I also knew, too, that I would have to explain why I did not wend my way home right after confirmation classes ended and why did I see the need to loiter. I would have had to be able to provide all the explanations necessary to justify such an action. Could this little girl and her friends have already forgotten that, only a few minutes ago, they recited, with such gusto, a list of moral and religious imperatives called the “Ten Commandments”, in which they rattled off – “Honour thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long in the Land which the Lord thy God giveth thee”. Yet, here we were disobeying our mothers, not deliberately, just unwittingly and forgetting the severe consequences that can befall us from our almond pounding euphoria.

Having gathered all our nuts in a pile, it is now time to find two stones — a flattish one to rest the almonds on and another one of appropriate size, shape and weight to with which to pound. What a tedious and stressful activity it was to get those tiny nuts out of their pods, all the while trying to avoid any of the juice getting on our clothes. Most times those almonds came out in fine, splintered pieces scattered all over the ground. More of the nuts were lost than we got to eat. However we were neither deterred nor put off by that fact. We still kept at our activity until they were all done and we were satisfied and started our long journey up the hill to our various homes until next Sunday again. Somehow we were blessed with the good fortune of escaping the stains and were spared from our stern, disciplinarian and authoritarian mothers who were the judge and jury for the case. Were I ever to have the ill luck of being dragged to “Mothers’ Courts” what could I have pleaded in my defense, but to meekly say “Yes, Ma’am! Guilty as charged” and wait in silent awe and trepidation for the sentence and dreaded punishment. Would I find forgiveness this time, until I commit a second offence, or is this first one going to be the big one and I just would never get a second chance to make a first impression? If my memory serves me rightly I think I was spared my “Mother’s Courts” and its attendant punishment on that issue.

Throughout all my almond pounding Sundays I managed to keep my “Sunday Best” free from stains and destruction. However, now that my bond sisters and I are a little older and much wiser, we know that those tiny little nuts are still packed with life giving and life saving nutrients. Every one, adults and children alike, need to eat a few almonds everyday fortunately without the stress of pounding their own almonds and the risk of staining their clothes and losing a finger. Of course almonds are low in saturated fats, rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, protein, phosphorous, zinc, fibre, and folic acid. The nutrients found in almonds may help to protect us against cardiovascular diseases by reducing the risk of heart attack and lowering cholesterol.

Scientific evidence is now showing us that eating almonds – a daily serving of 23 almonds, approximately one ounce -, may be one of our greatest allies in our struggle to achieve and maintain good health. Many of the nutrients found in almonds are believed to have very positive effects on several different types of cancers. Is it any small wonder that as children we went “nuts” for almonds?

Can the Ministry of Agriculture in their ongoing land conservation practices plant some more “almond” trees and give us some more nutritious fruit forests so that we can have more healthy eating the way it used to be.

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