Tag Archives: Fruit

Seasonal Trade-Off

Image by Tikovka1355 from Pixabay.

As a kid, did you ever trade your lunchbox Hostess cupcake for a classmate’s homemade cookies?

Then realized the chocolate chips were sneaky raisins. That your classmate’s mother considered sugar the devil’s invention.

Some of us seem destined for the short straw.

This month, though, we Hoosiers trade summer for autumn.

This flower child will miss petunias’ glorious, subtle fragrance. Hummingbirds and butterflies mooching off zinnias and cosmos. Hubby won’t miss mowing grass, but if the scent could be bottled, I’d buy 10.

If frost must clear out my flowers, fall’s show-off foliage more than makes up for the loss. Especially as I’ll be done with endless watering, weeding and feeding my gardens.

Instead, I’ll be raking, right? Seasonal trade-off.

And I gladly give up a hog farm’s stench on a 95-degree afternoon for fall’s clean crispness.

During summer, we don’t mess with coats or matching gloves. Also, we don’t lose them in three different places. During autumn, though, my old friend, last year’s parka, welcomes me warmly on chilly days.

Foodwise, I already miss sweet corn. I also miss potato salad, made with my mother’s recipe. She kept her signature dish in the same summer-only category as white shoes. I’ll probably do likewise.

During summer, I buy six kinds of fruit. To continue that during cold-weather months, however, requires a second mortgage. Weekly.

Still, who can reject fall’s trade-off? Apple crisp and caramel apples, or pumpkin pie and other yummy pumpkin spice foods? Plus, comfort food abounds.

Other seasonal trade-offs:

  • I’ll miss: nightly cicada concerts and fireflies’ light shows. Welcome: mosquitoes’ demise.
  • I’ll miss: sitting on restaurant patios. Welcome: sitting beside fireplaces.
  • I’ll miss: barbecue fragrances pervading my neighborhood. Welcome: woodsmoke that says, “I’m keeping someone warm.”
  • I’ll miss: our ceiling fan’s breezes at night. Welcome: quilts and flannel jammies.
  • I’ll miss: flip-flop freedom. Welcome: favorite boots.

I will happily exchange:

  • Flab-revealing tops for flannel shirts.
  • Fruit processing at 10:30 p.m. versus consuming it in a cobbler at 10:30 p.m.
  • Multiple daily baths to dispel sweat, bug spray and sunblock for single baths whose effects last more than an hour.

Unfortunately, we’ll trade air-conditioning costs for heating bills.

Still, doesn’t the seasonal trade-off seem fair?

Although good-for-us virtues, like those healthy cookies, lurk during both seasons, summer and fall taste good.

Image by Valentin from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What seasonal exchanges will you make?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Yum!

O Lord, You invested so much sunshine and rain in this first tomato from my garden. You must have thought it was worth it.

Investing aches, pains and Tylenol in pulling these weeds, I wasn’t sure. …

Until I tasted this fruit? vegetable? of our labors.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay.

OMG, You were right! As usual.

The Best Pick

Image by borislagosbarrera from Pixabay.

Does blueberry picking sound like a Fun Time to you?

Bribery convinced my small children: “If we don’t get thrown out of the patch, we’ll hit the bakery later.”

Often, they were too full of berries to finish doughnuts, so Mom obliged them.

Image by Anya1 from Pixabay.

I also considered it a rare productive activity, defined as: we made it to a potty in time; no one went to the ER; and I wasn’t nominated for Bad Mother of the Year. Plus, some berries came home.

Years later, our son invited Hubby and me to pick blueberries with his family.

Five-year-old Jonathan bragged, “I’ll pick 35 times 72 pounds!”

Ty the Little Guy wore the world’s cutest sun hat, appropriate for the world’s cutest toddler.

Arriving at the farm, we walked past fields of blueberry bushes. And walked. And walked.

Soon, both boys would need naps. Or Grandma would.

A guide finally assigned us a row abounding in big, juicy berries.

Image by Artur Pawlak from Pixabay.

Our tall son and Hubby handled top branches. I covered the bushes’ midsections. I also resigned myself to picking lower branches — and sleeping on a heating pad that night. The boys will grab just enough blueberries to eat and dye their skins.

Jonathan disagreed. “I’m little, but I can pick lots!”

Ty, however, had a beef. Everyone but him received a white bucket. Fill someone else’s? A fate worse than death.

Eventually, he decided Daddy’s bucket would do. Ty dragged it up and down rows, popping through bushes and batting long-lashed, brown eyes at other pickers.

Above flirting, Jonathan picked continuously for more than an hour!

Grandma’s feet gave out. We adjourned to weigh and pay. Ty allowed Daddy to tote his bucket and carry him on his shoulders.

“You’re heavy, Ty. How many berries did you eat?”

Little Guy’s smeary face somehow looked innocent.

“I’ll pay extra.” Daddy sighed. “Next time, I’ll weigh him before and after.”

Blueberry cheesecake, here we come!

Jonathan didn’t accumulate 2,520 pounds of berries (35 x 72), but the five pounds he and Daddy picked made him happy.

A productive day. Even Grandma and Grandpa made it to a clean potty in time. Nobody went to the ER. Daddy wasn’t nominated for Bad Parent of the Year, though he forgot to give Ty a bucket.

We had a berry Fun Time.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you have a favorite fruit-picking memory?

In the small town where our children grew up, Plymouth, Indiana, 500,000 people attend the Blueberry Festival every year–the setting for a book I wrote several years ago.

Okay, So I Didn’t Lose the Weight

Image by Julita from Pixabay.

My summer dieting resolutions have proved as successful as last January’s, despite my good intentions.

Daylight saving time is more conducive to exercise, I said. I’d shed winter weight like a parka.

Summer gardens produce tons of fresh veggies. Fruit, a nutritious food that actually tastes good, abounds. Easier to eat skinny, right?

I implemented self-scare tactics: Beaches would sound a bloat-float warning upon my arrival.

Other aids would help my effort. Spending hours in endless construction zones would create a slow burn, turning calories to ashes.

Plus, the stars were in weight-loss alignment. Stars or satellites? Not sure. I’m not picky about astronomy.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay.

I did consume fresh veggies. Also, berries, cherries, peaches and watermelon. And, um, ice cream.

Come on, I live three blocks from Ivanhoe’s, a legendary drive-in touted by The Huffington Post as Indiana’s contribution to “The One Thing You Must Do in Every State.” True Hoosiers don’t live by broccoli alone.

Image by Loulou Nash from Pixabay.

To my credit, I exercised. Dragged along — er, encouraged — by Hubby, I hiked miles across rugged terrain. We paddled lakes, cycled bike paths and, despite bloat-float warnings, frequented beaches. We even swam in the water.

Given those “vacations,” would you choose half a bagel for breakfast?

Also, even the word “s’mores” forbids limiting me to one.

As for swimming — beach alarm aside — possessing a built-in inner tube isn’t a bad thing. When out-of-shape arms don’t keep one afloat, fat to the rescue!  Safety first, I always say.

Besides, the holidays are three months away. Cooler weather will encourage exercise. As temperatures fall, so will my ice cream intake. Really.

Also, plenty of road construction remains to burn off excess calories.

Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay.

Baggy sweaters will hide my summer-acquired inner tube, lessening motivation to diet. But fear not. I’ve created new scare tactics.

Shopping trips with dressing room mirrors always diminish my appetite.

Even better (worse?): the yearly checkup. I plan to share my innovative medical theory with my doctor. Doesn’t it make sense that we who carry more years should outweigh the young, who carry only a few? I’ll inform her the stars are in weight-loss alignment during autumn. She shouldn’t be picky about astronomy.

I’ll promise that now it’s fall, I’ll drop pounds like trees shed leaves.

Besides, there’s always January.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Is it harder to lose weight during hot or cold months?

Tomato Tales

Image by Renee Gaudet from Pixabay.

I appreciate dedicated farmers and truckers who continue to bring us produce during this challenging time.

Still, grocery-store tomatoes provide fresh gardening inspiration. They also inspired my tomato-loving dad. One February day long ago, he filled egg cartons with dirt. In our mother’s clean kitchen.

Image by Markus Spiske from Pixabay.

My siblings and I awaited her fiery, fly-swatter judgment.

Instead, Mom said, “I can almost taste the tomatoes now.”

Dad explained he was planting seeds that would grow into tomato seedlings, which we’d later plant in our garden. Unfortunately, only a few lived.

Though Dad doubted the scrawny survivors would produce, he planted them. One he named Methuselah, after the biblical character who lived 969 years, almost filled our family’s pantry by itself.

Methuselah grew as tall as I and spread out as if king of the tomato patch. Dad often counted more than 70 big, juicy tomatoes on Methuselah’s branches. We hauled bushel basketfuls from the garden until Mom locked us out. After canning for weeks in 90-degree weather, she considered the bumper crop a for-real attack of killer tomatoes.

Decades later, my husband and I relived that abundance when we bought a house with a garden full of tomato plants, heavy with fruit. We would enjoy fresh-tomato goodness — with almost zero work!

I thought.

Eventually, I understood why Mom ran screaming from the patch when new blossoms appeared. Way too many tomatoes! Lacking canning equipment or a freezer, we put dozens outside with a “free” sign.

Still, that tomato-y summer ruined us forever. The following spring, we could hardly wait to raise our own. Where to buy seedlings?

Hubby’s barber shop, the source of all small-town wisdom, supplied the answer. The local Future Farmers of America raised and sold seedlings every May.

Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay.

Since then, we’ve grown tomatoes every year. Red sunshine not only tickles our taste buds during summer, but during winter in homemade spaghetti sauce, chili and stews.

This year, however, the Future Farmers cannot grow seedlings. When Covid-19 first struck, I feared a run on gardening supplies.

Hubby gave me a you’re-so-paranoid look. “It’s not even Easter.”

With a few more gentle (Ahem!) reminders, he tried to order seeds online. Garden websites sang a unanimous song: sold out.

Would a similar run gobble up all seedlings? Would we be condemned to store-bought tomatoes forever?

Having learned his lesson (Always listen to your paranoid wife.), Hubby tracked down and planted tomato seeds. The seedlings will mature too late to plant at the usual time. But we’ll repot and keep them indoors. We’ll share them with others, spoiling them forever for tomatoes that taste like red sunshine — one small way to sweeten this pandemic.

Methuselah would be proud.

Image by Couleur from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite fresh veggie?

Hidden Treasure

Image by guvo59 from Pixabay.

When you hear the word “treasure,” do your ears perk up like a kitty’s at the whirr of a can opener?

My ears wiggle, too — though as a child, jewels, in particular, fascinated me.

When I was a preschooler, a kind lady, aware of our family’s poverty, offered to buy my sister and me Easter clothes. She was rich, so I reveled in fantasies of princess dresses of red velvet, encrusted with precious stones.

Instead, we wore blue-and-white gingham. Not a single sapphire or diamond on them anywhere.

At sandy beaches, I buried quartz pebbles, marking their hiding places with an X. Someday, I would dig them up and sell them for millions. Then I’d wear princess dresses and eat Dilly Bars every single day.

In my heart of hearts, I knew few found for-real treasures in Indiana cornfields. Jesus told a story about a man discovering a “pearl of great price” in a field, but I never found one.

Still, I tried to hide my everyday treasures, with limited success. My younger brothers, who couldn’t find their shoes if their lives depended on it, possessed sophisticated built-in systems that detected all candy bars within 50 miles.

I also loved fruit — another commodity that disappeared quickly at our house. When my mother brought home ruby-red apples or golden oranges, I sneaked several and hid them in my bed’s headboard for secret indulgence while I read Little Women or Black Beauty.

Much later, I learned that I came from a long line of fruit pirates. My Southern grandmother treasured apples as if they were made of gold. When Dad brought her bags of apples from the Midwest, they vanished. An even better treasure detector than his sons, Dad found them under her bed. Once, while visiting my parents, I was vacuuming bedrooms when I discovered his apple stash as well.

Thus, my toddler grandson’s precocious ability to hide treasure shouldn’t have surprised us. He mostly spirited off other people’s valuables. When car keys, remotes, or backup flash drives vanished, his parents immediately identified the chief suspect. After extensive treasure hunts, they might find their billfolds nestled in 50 pounds of cat food.

Or maybe not.

They still considered that little larcenist a treasure — and Grandma certainly agrees.

I’ve never dug my fingers through piles of gleaming doubloons or gems, but the ring of precious faces around my table glow with greater worth. The only diamonds I own are small solitaires that shine on my left hand and on a silver anniversary necklace, courtesy of the shy, loving guy whose once-hidden treasures have taken a lifetime to discover and enjoy.

Makes my ears wiggle just to think about it.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What do you consider your treasures?