I remember the "you-pick" strawberry patches we would visit in the early summer when I was a kid. You could see the plump, red berries peeking out from under the green foliage. I thought walking down the rows in a large field of strawberries was fun. I also remember a lady in a broad-brimmed floppy hat who sat in a high lifeguard-style chair peering out at all of us. We were crawling on our knees along the rows and putting berries into crates and buckets. "Do not eat berries while you pick!" she'd yell gruffly on occasion. She was the "berry guard," I guess.
When a young child gives you a bouquet of dandelions, you may be charmed. However, those yellow-headed weeds dotting lawns mature and emit puffs of seed. These pesky intruders can ruin a beautiful landscape. Herbicides are coming out of storage because weeds seem to grow better than many of the desired plants we want in our landscapes. The other day as I drove home from work, I noticed a homeowner spraying weeds next to a street. He was wearing sandals and shorts. Many adults and children were out walking that day, and some had a dog on a leash.
"I can't understand what you are saying," the female voice said. I was listening to music as I drove in unfamiliar territory. I thought a radio announcer was commenting to a guest. "I can't understand what you are saying," the voice said again. "I'm not saying anything," I replied automatically, slightly startled. Was my phone talking to me? My phone has a voice-activated system. I reached over and noted it was turned off and in my purse.
Several years ago, I had a couple of program assistants who loved to enter radio contests. One day they walked into my office to discuss the day's activities. I was a little surprised when I looked up, but I think I maintained a poker face. "How are you doing today?" I asked. "Well, we won free spray tans," one of them said sheepishly. Her fair skin was almost as orange as a bottle of Tide detergent. She looked embarrassed. "Don't worry. It will wear off in a few days," I said.
"We have someone with a severe peanut allergy on board, so peanut-containing snacks will not be served," the flight attendant announced. "Please refrain from eating any of your own snack foods with peanuts as an ingredient for the duration of the trip," he continued. I had packs of peanut butter crackers and peanuts in my purse waiting to be eaten. I did not have a chance to eat during my layover, so I was looking forward to a snack. However, despite being a little hungry, I wasn't about to put anyone's life at risk for the sake of a few peanuts.
"This would be a good follow-up article," my husband said with a grin. I pondered his suggestion as I grabbed a grocery cart. A while back, I wrote about a grocery shopping trip I took with our son. I was providing a "kitchen warming" gift for him after he moved into his own place. I stocked his cupboards, refrigerator and freezer with a variety of foods that he chose during our shopping trip. I was amazed at the healthful choices he made. I should have had him be my guest writer that week, or perhaps our personal chef.
"I'm more German than you are Norwegian!" my husband exclaimed, grinning at me. He sounded a little too triumphant, I thought to myself. We were reviewing the results of our DNA testing. I looked at his ethnicity pie charts, and he was correct. He was 82 percent German to my 72 percent Norwegian. He was zero percent Scandinavian, poor guy. How had we survived more than 25 years of marriage? I could understand why he likes sauerkraut and sausages, I thought to myself.
"Hi, I'm Julie. What's your name?" I asked the woman sitting at the table at a food safety conference. She responded with her name and place of work, and asked me where I work. "I work at North Dakota State University," I replied. "I went to college there," she said enthusiastically. "What was your major?" I asked. "I majored in food science and minored in food safety almost 20 years ago," she said. "I must have been your instructor," I replied as I held up my name badge.
The woman looked in my cart, glanced up at me and smiled. "I know how you feel," she said. I didn't look sad or dejected, by the way. I laughed and kept adding more items to my cart. What was I loading in my cart? I'll give you a hint: I was in a hardware and home goods store. I didn't have my cart filled with candy, chips and soda, which you might find in that type of retail store. I was picking out packets of flower and vegetable seeds and seed-starting media. I want to grow things.
When I arrived at work, the temperature was 57 F. At this temperature, the students on campus have packed away their winter coats, scarves, hats, mittens and boots. They are wearing shorts and flip-flops. Unfortunately, 57 degrees was the temperature in my office. The outdoor temperature was at least 60 degrees colder, so my office was balmy, compared with sitting outside on a snowbank. After a call to maintenance, I sat down to begin my work. I tried not to focus on being cold as I sat and shivered.