Thursday, September 22, 2011


To say that my dad was eccentric is an understatement. He came out of poverty from the hills of Kentucky and worked hard to improve his life, joined the army, served in World War II, worked at Kellogg's of Battle Creek, moved to California and went into business for himself. He flew private planes and doted on his grandchildren. That being said, he did have his idiosyncrasies. One of which was that he trusted no one. Nope, no one. I think in some way that's why I have an analytical brain. I don't take things for face value. I love a good mystery book or movie and try to figure out the solution before the ending. I always credit it to years of reading Nancy Drew but I know Dad has something to do with it as well.

Throughout my childhood I would sit in the back seat of our car with my two sisters listening to Dad say, "That car looks suspicious." He'd write the license plate number in the dust on the dash "just in case" he needed to do something with it. We'd sit in the back and roll our eyes, never daring to say anything to him. He never did anything with those numbers. Just added to them every time we went somewhere. Didn't everyone live like that!?!

I now live in the central valley of California, Almond orchard central. Every year at this time the almonds are harvested. Some nice person doesn't climb a ladder and pick those little nuts one by one by hand. Oh, no! A farm worker, like the one at the end of my street this morning, climbs on board a shaker. It's a devious piece of farm equipment that I swear was invented by Tim Burton, or in the least, could be in one of his movies.

It's driven up to the unsuspecting tree, it's long arms are wrapped around the trunk like a warm September hug, they turn on the motor and WHAM! A whole lot of shaking is going on!!!! The nuts fall to the ground and the contraption moves on to the next innocent little tree and this goes on, ad nauseam. The first time I saw one in action I was driving by in my car and I almost ran off the road and peed my pants laughing as it is quite comical to watch. After the nuts are all on the ground, another piece of farm equipment comes by and sweeps them up, deposits them via conveyor belt into a waiting truck where they are then taken to an almond place and processed. (You can tell by my professional vernacular that I am no farmer!)

One of the byproducts of the shaking is the dust. We have no rain here during the summer growing season so things are pretty dry, dusty and dirty. The dust is everywhere and they even have to put "low visibility" signs on the streets because it's downright dangerous at times to drive through it as you can't see a thing. It makes it's way down the streets and through the fields and into my little house and all over my furniture. I can dust one minute and it's back the next. It's a futile pursuit, but one I keep at because I have the misguided hope that at some point I will triumph!

During this time of year when the morning light is streaming into the house I can see the dust particles dancing in the air. You could write your name in the dust on my buffet in the dining room. Heck, you could write the Gettysburg Address on it! I just look at it and think of Dad and those license plate numbers on the dash.


carol fun said...

Oh Jean I do not have good memories of the dust in Modesto - -you could not keep it out of the house! But I did love how pretty the almond trees are in the spring - they always looked like they were covered in snow to me - and to a Midwest gal who missed real winter that was good for the soul. Stop dusting - it is a futile effort- go sew instead!

Brenda said...

That is a great story. I will have to tell my best friend how the almonds get from the trees to her ice cream. They are her favorite topping. I live in Michigan and have been to Battle Creek a few times. Home of Tony the Tiger, don't you know.

Thimbleanna said...

What a fun post. Sorry about your dust. So interesting to read about the suspicious man who has such a sweet, loving daughter? ;-)

Linda said...

Loved this post and though I do not envy you the dust it brings back happy memories of when I taught in LeGrand surrounded by "Aaaa-mend" orchards. Nothing prettier in the spring and nothing dustier at harvest Dust off Mr Bernie and finish that quilt! Miss you on FB.

Elizabeth and Gary said...

Hi Jean,

I loved your post! Oh yes I know what you mean about the dust. Our last house was right next to a peach orchard and it was very dusty and we even had a mouse or two from the orchard come over and visit us..Yeck..
Anyways, the fist time I saw the shaker I couldn't believe it I pulled over to watch it (I had to wash my car after)LOL
My sister read all the Nancy Drew brought back a sweet memory of her.
I think we had the best weekend in long time..the weather was perfect for me, we even had the screen door open all day (no air-con running).
Have a sweet day and hugs, Elizabeth

Sweet Cottage Dreams said...

Oh yes, the shaking of those trees and I know exactly what you mean about the machine shaking the trees! I am laughing at not only the image, but also of you nearly wetting yourself - because I know your sense of humour! Tee hee. Love the story!! Your dad....what a character.

Rain on the way - to knock down that dust!


ChaChaneen said...

I had no idea such machines existed! Very cool indeed. In my teenage years I grew up in apple country and they were lovingly taken off the trees as to not bruise them. Mmmm, I lurve this time of year. My apples and your almonds... sigh!