Buffalo Bulletin bloggers

The Bulletin staff sound off on local issues, pop culture, and everything else under the sun. Read posts by staffers and write comments of your own.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Meals on Wheels of Fire

Today I gave my fourth Tour de Seniors of the month, doing a loop around town delivering meals on wheels.

The office obligation has become somewhat of a weekly highlight. Today I drew the "North" route, a quick and dirty lap around the old neighborhoods on Burritt and Carrington with a long dog leg out Highway 16 east.

Aside from the obvious reward of benevolent community service, there are plenty of advantages. I've found the experience to at least be an interesting way to orient myself in town not to mention a great way to know a few of our colorful elders (if only for a few brief moments).

No two lunch recipients are the same. There's the old man chain-smoking cigarettes who greets you with a "Time to eat, huh?" There's the guy waiting in a chair on his front lawn for the chow chariot to arrive. There's the woman too debilitated to make it to the front door but who still manages to stretch a smile. There's the guy who sits at his dining room table, waiting for his food to arrive with his place set and fork in hand.

There's lots of oxygen tanks and dark living rooms. But there's a lot of appreciative faces and thanks-yous as well. I look forward to front door dining duty. The pleasure is all mine.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Garden of Eatin'

Anyone with whom I've had more than a 30 second conversation over the course of the past 6 months knows that I was garden obsessed this summer. It was my first attempt at gardening in Wyoming and I did not know the euphoria I would experience at the taste of garden-fresh greens or the smell of just-picked herbs. But, I have to admit to having found gardening bliss.

(Stick with me here...I'm getting a little blissed out just writing about the whole gardening experience). So, in a nutshell: it awesome eating fresh, home-grown produce all summer long. We feasted on lettuce, beans, peppers (ooh, the peppers), sugar snap peas, sweet corn, and tomatoes on top of more tomatoes. Then we harvested the pumpkins (which our daughter calls "punpuns"). There was enough food to share with friends and to freeze and enjoy this winter. And while I knew there was a growing (pardon the pun) local food movement, I chose to garden this summer because I wanted a hobby that allowed me to be outdoors and because in many ways I miss desperately the farm I grew up on and I hope to pass some of those agricultural values on to our daughter.

As the summer passed and we enjoyed our garden's bounty, the more I felt like this was really the right thing for our family. What could be better than for our daughter to know where her food comes from? And really, what kid (or grownup) wouldn't prefer green beans plucked fresh from the vine to heat-canned beans swimming in salt water? So, I became a little obsessed with food--it seemed that everything I read was either a cookbook or a gardening journal, every conversation with a friend turned to gardening or composting, and every meal turned in to a challenge to use as many of the freshest foods I could gather.

Which is why I read Michael Pollan's open letter to the next president with rapt attention. Pollan, who has written two books on America's food-obsession, argues in the letter that America's interest in fast, convenient foods are creating a health crisis. Are some of his ideas out there? Sure. But is he spot-on on other things: absolutely. Namely, that somehow good-for-us, fresh food that actually nourishes our bodies has somehow got a bad rap as elitist or "fancy." Conversely, as a nation we now pay homage at the alter of food that in many ways is little more than edible food-like substances (lots of things wrapped in celophane come to mind here). He's not saying that each of us personally owes fresh Brussel sprouts a big mea culpa. Rather, he argues that eating more real foods will have a real, positive effect on our collective health.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My mind expanded...

I just returned from a business meeting in Yankton, S.D. Through my travels there, and I may say it is not an easy place to get to, I started noticing something. Orange. Orange everywhere. I don't mean, a little bit of orange. I mean, literally, orange everywhere. My South Dakota upbringing came rushing back. It had to be the start of the all-important Pheasant hunting season.

My first thought was, oh no...I hope I can get a hotel room. My second thought was - oh please, please let me be able to get a hotel room.

For those of you who have never been to South Dakota during bird season, it may be hard for me to describe to you the enthusiasm in which hunters take to flushing out the South Dakota state bird. It is a frenzy all to it's own. One that is repeated each year for generations after generations and young and old citizens alike of the great Rushmore/Sunshine/Great Faces, Great Places/"Fill in superlative here" State. It truly is a sight to behold. Click on the title of this blog and read for yourself.

I am not a big hunter. See, I'm familiar with shotguns and while I have always purchased my conservation/hunting stamps I have never actually pointed a shotgun in the direction of a live breathing and flying creature. One, I'm too scared and two...well, let's be honest here, I just don't like getting up that early in the morning.

Which brings me to Mitchell, S.D. - home to not only the world's only corn palace (don't laugh if you've never seen it. It is rather cool) but home now to Cabela's - The World's Foremost Outfitter. Believe it or not, I have never set foot inside this particular store before this day.

I now know how men must feel when dragged by their beloved into a woman's shoe store. I was overwhelmed and completely out of my element. I wandered for awhile and watched as hundreds of men and a few women search for treasures to buy. It truly was surreal.

I bought a t-shirt and some gloves and made my way out of this little piece of outdoors heaven and continued on my way - all the while glad I had made this detour. I'd like to say I took a little bit of understanding of the passion of bird hunting with me on the way out but....that would be a lie. I just don't have the full appreciation of that store. Now shoes on the other hand....