The other day at Aaron's Beach I spied this basket. It was hanging out in the sand enjoying the weather almost as much as I was.
Most people think of crabs, rightfully so, when they see these.
Although there's little reason to doubt this basket was once used for hauling crabs, my first thought whenever I see these is of daffodils.
When my grandfather grew daffodils commercially, the packing and shipping operation was run out of his barn. The pickers bunched the flowers with rubberbands and gathered them in these baskets. I'd drive a tractor towing a wagon up and down the fields, load the baskets, and deliver them to the barn. They were then submerged in metal buckets of water where they waited their turn to be packed into long cardboard boxes which were then shipped to places unknown, otherwise referred to as "Up Nawth."
All this reminds me of an old (if you consider 1984 to be old, and I'm not sure I do) Daily Press article I stumbled across the other day, titled "Sweet Smell of Success Elusive," about my grandfather's daffodil business:
"G.H. Vogel had a plan that he hoped would be a golden opportunity for the daffodil business. From 1963 to 1968 the retired Army brigadier general spearheaded a study to determine the feasibility of manufacturing perfume from daffodils grown on the Middle Peninsula....In 1963...a local resident who owned a perfume company called May Cove expressed a desire to develop a fragrance representative of Mathews County.** Vogel and other daffodil growers gathered 190,000 blooms to be tested at Virginia Tech to determine if commercial extraction of natural oils for the perfume were economically viable and if a market could be established for the product. Only five pounds of pure daffodil oil had been produced in the world in 1962, Vogel said at the time, and none was manufactured in this country."
Chemists were successful in obtaining the essential oil, which my grandfather then took to New York for further testing. Although they determined that commercial quantities of the oil could indeed enhance flavors or fragrances of other items, the money they would earn from the essence could not offset the cost necessary to gather the blooms and extract the oil.
The article goes on to say, "Vogel, who used to grow as many as 13 acres of daffodils, has reduced his crop to about five acres. At age 84 he has decided to let another grower harvest his flowers this year."
It's amazing the memories conjured up by an otherwise ordinary basket washed up on a beach.
**By the way, a fragrance representative of Mathews County would have to include eau de creek mud, dead crabs and