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Classical Music

Outdoors: Visions of sugar plums

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The Interlochen production of The Nutcracker will be virtual this year, and, already, I have visions of the Sugar Plum Fairy dancing in my head.

So what is a sugar plum?

The ingredients for sugar plums have changed over the centuries, but in Tchaikovsky’s day, sugar plums were confections, most likely nuts covered with a hard candy shells, not unlike our Jordan almonds.
Children craved them.

Could this craving be some primitive survival urge?

Early humans, in order to survive and reproduce, required a diet that met their nutritional needs.

Food gatherers knew nothing of nutrition, but they craved carbs and fats. They would seek out fruits (which are high in carbohydrates and vitamins) and nuts (the richest source of minerals and B-complex vitamins).

Wild creature instinctively do the same thing. Think of bears and honey; deer and apples; red squirrels and maple sap. 

Butterflies, hummingbirds - it’s no coincidence that flowers produce nectar.

It’s also no coincidence that plants depending on animals for seed dispersal almost always produce nuts or fruit. In gathering and eating these plants, mammals, birds, and even some insects plant seeds, insuring the perpetuation of mast- and fruit-bearing plants.

If visions of sugar plums dance in our heads, if we crave sweets and nuts during this time of meager daylight, it’s perfectly natural.