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A little nostalgia goes a long way

Food For Thought

Indulge me for a few minutes; yesterday was my birthday and, after this many years, everybody is entitled to a little wallow in the past once in a while. I spent a good deal of the day writing birthday cards for a number of my friends who are also April babies. At our age, receiving cards on or before the exact birth date is immaterial. The big thing is just to have people remember we are still around and able to read and comprehend.
Have you ever noticed, no matter how diligently you search and how carefully you read every word of those ready-made birthday cards (and there are gazillions to choose from), they never quite say exactly what you want to say and you always feel you must add a little word or two here and there, or write a long letter saying what you really wanted the card to say? The whole process involving the several birthday cards that I found necessary to enhance with my gems of wit or wisdom left me with a head full of vivid memories I feel the need to pursue, elaborate on, and share with someone.
One involved strawberries. A friend and I each, at one time, owned a dog that liked strawberries. Her dog was a small breed and needed only two or three berries at a time for it to be considered a treat, but my friend went to great pains to be sure they were the reddest, ripest, sweetest, freshest available. My strawberry-loving dog enjoyed a less specified addiction which expanded to include other types of berries and, in some instances, other kinds of fruit, as well. Early one June morning, I looked out my kitchen window to see my Golden Retriever nosing around in the strawberry patch. At first, I thought she was stalking a mouse or other small creature and expected to see her flip it into the air, as she usually did when she captured some potential playmate. Not a born killer, she was gentle with her captives and often turned them loose or attempted to care for them when the games were over.
As I watched, however, I realized, although she appeared to catch something, she appeared to be grazing, moving slowly from one end of the strawberry bed to the other. Eventually it dawned on me, she was eating strawberries, and I grabbed my berry basket and headed for the garden. Between the two of us, we picked the vines clear of ripe berries in less than half an hour and I realized why my three-year-old strawberry patch had not been living up to its predicted bumper year.
Folly II, (second in the series of four Goldens we had at different times) enjoyed not only strawberries, but other berries, as well, and I was truly surprised to find her daintily picking black raspberries off the wild bushes in our woods one day, her lips curled back in an attempt to avoid the thorny stems. I didn’t mind so much about the wild berries, though. After all, Mother Nature planted them and they were free for the taking. On the other hand, Mother Nature hadn’t spent hours crawling around on the lumpy dirt setting out those little strawberry plants and carefully giving each one a nourishing drink of water spiked with expensive plant food, so I should be entitled to say who got to eat them. At least Folly didn’t expect me to pick them for her.
When we first moved to the country, there were several mature fruit trees planted in the yard behind the original farm house and, though nobody lived there, we kept the lawn mowed and enjoyed the flowers. Most of the fruit trees were old, some well past their productive years but still furnishing a little fruit each year. We were reluctant to cut them down, but neither did we bother to spray them or otherwise try to raise bushels of edible fruit. I still feel guilty as having grown up in the aftermath of the Great Depression, I have always been well aware it is wrong to let good food go to waste, especially when (as we are being reminded these days by the Bon Jovi ad) hunger should not exist in this land of plenty. A summer apple tree grew in the front yard of the old farmhouse. One summer morning, I saw Folly leaping, leaping– straight up into the air, over and over again for no apparent reason.
After watching for some time, I could only conclude she was after an apple. She did not want one of the windfalls lying in the grass all around her. She did not want any of the easily reached apples still clinging to the lower branches. There was one specific apple she had her eye on and she wasn’t going to give up. Some dog.
I’ve learned puppies will eat nearly anything. Once. That’s how they find out what is edible and what isn’t. Don’t encourage your puppy to like fresh berries or caviar, unless you’re prepared to pay for them out of season for years to come.