Around age nine, I started baking mud pies. Bertha's Bakery was a small hollow grove of trees in the back yard where I set up shop. With my brother's help, I smoothed out the earth floor and added shelves.
Dad was a carpenter and handyman so he had a tool shed with lots of different materials: gravel, sand, sawdust and lime.
I decorated my mud pies with berries in season, and one day when I saw an open bag of lime, I had the brainstorm of icing them. Eager to scale new culinary heights, I got myself an empty tin and helped myself to some of this delightful "icing sugar."
It was summer and the huckleberries were ripe, so I gathered some of those and juiced them. I was going to make pink icing for some clay cupcakes I had just "baked."
To my astonishment, when I mixed the huckleberry juice with the "icing sugar," the mixture began to bubble and the tin grew warm in my hands. Dad was at his workbench filing a saw, so I took the smoking mixture over and showed him.
"It's getting hot, Daddy. Why is it smoking?"
"That's quicklime," he said. "When you mix it with the acid in the berry juice, you get a chemical reaction."
I was impressed me, but disappointed too. Making pink icing for my mud cakes wasn't going to be as easy as I thought.