t an off-season growers market thrown together downtown just ahead of the holidays, I found one of my favorite tomato-growing teams taking a break from their long winter’s nap to participate in one more sale before the year ran out.

“What’s this?” I asked about the contents of a large glass Ball jar filled with some darkly dried mystery plant.

Elderberry, I was told, and the contents of that jar would make enough syrup to boost the buyer’s immune system, serving as a flu remedy of sorts, throughout the coming year. That would be twenty dollars, please.

“Listen,” I said, “I’m not sure about it today (Or ever! Elderberry syrup, cooked on a stove top and taken in small doses daily? Come on!), but if I change my mind would it be alright if I called you to order some later would that be alright?”

My tomato farmers said sure, whatever, and away I went—into December and the early part of January, plagued along with my children with all manner of illness, flu among them. It is little wonder, then, that when I regained the ability to eat solid food and the five minutes free from children required to make a phone call that I dialed up the farmers to ask about the elderberry.

“Would you like the pint or the quart size?” she asked.

“The big one,” I told her, “I want the big one.”

The big one turns out to be the quart for those of you a little hazy on the various measures you were required to master in elementary school and this one looks like it holds an awful lot of elderberry. Scott cooked up our first starter batch over the weekend, sweetened with honey. The first doses were administered this morning.

“It tastes fine at first but then it has a weird aftertaste,” Marcel observed after his teaspoonful.

“You’ll get used to it,” I assured him, “because you’re going to be drinking it every morning for the rest of your lives.”

I felt just like Mary Poppins, only meaner.

As for Scott, he says he’s pleased that our exercise in kitchen witchcraft hasn’t turned anyone into a newt. And ever since he found out about elderberry’s high concentration of vitamins A, B and C, he’s really thrown his back into forwarding my new agenda with The Three.

“Indulge your mother,” Scott ordered. “It’s her new obsession.”

(Also, one of you people wouldn’t happen to own a bottle of brandy, would you? There’s a recipe for an elderberry cordial that the farmers gave me along with the one for the syrup and I’m going to have a lot of this stuff. A lot. Maybe you could come over? You can think about it and get back to me. I’ll just be here, drinking this elderberry.)