Thursday, August 2, 2012

Stars of Yard, Pasture, and Grocery Store

A grass seed with sharp, hair-like projection recently noodled its way into my sock and then into tender ankle flesh.  It reminded me that by the end of July seeds make themselves particularly evident in our lives.

 A quick look at trees around town reveals creamy yellow ash seeds contrasting themselves against emerald leaves.  Catalpa pods dangle like  funky ornaments amid big, heart shaped leaves.  Locust pods also hang among their leaves like chandelier earrings.  Hackberry trees sport berries that will sustain birds this fall and winter.

Our gardens are also full of seeds: some  edible--like green beans and okra. Others are designed for spitting contests—like watermelon seeds.  Some go to the chickens--like cantaloupe and bell pepper seeds.

Trees and gardens aren’t the only places to see seeds. Walking through a dry pasture reveals dastardly devil’s claw pods still forming.  Any mammal ankle or lower leg is fair game once these ripen and fall from the plant. Nearer the dry creek, plants incubate dangerous versions of Velcro-like monsters that my daughters call porcupine eggs.  I hate removing them from longhaired dogs’ coats and tails.

Somehow in this dry weather, nature sustains goat head stickers and sandburs, which rank with devil’s claws and porcupine eggs as particularly vile seeds.  It’s easy to see why they transport so well and why it’s so hard to destroy them.

The kinds of seeds I’ve been talking about are easy to consider as seeds.  Less evident are seeds we find in grocery store aisles.

Remember your last trip to the market and the narrow lanes you cruised with your slowly filling cart.  How many products that you passed by or put in your cart directly represent seeds?

The condiment shelves are full of seedy items: mustard and poppy seed dressing come immediately to mind.  In the vegetable section, you’ll find canned seeds: various kinds of beans, corn, and hominy find their way into most of our carts.

The baked good segment of the store is full of seeds ground to flour.  In addition, poppy, dill, sesame, pepper, caraway, and other seeds fill the spice shelves.  In that same area, bottles of vanilla and almond flavoring contain distilled seed products. 

A turn down the cereal aisle takes you into another seedy section of the grocery store.  Oatmeal  and barley provide examples of less refined seeds.  Boxes of Cheerios, Chex, and Fruit Loops hide disguised seeds.

Not far from the cereal, jars of peanut butter and Nutella remind us that some of our food favorites were once nutty seeds.  Not far away we find jars and bags of roasted and raw nuts that provide tasty and healthy munchies.

While I curse those grass seeds that lodge in my socks or the porcupine eggs in my dog’s tail, a trip to the grocery store reminds me that life cannot exist without seeds.  Meals and snacks wouldn’t be nearly as delicious without a dash of pepper, a sprinkle of sunflower seeds, or a splash of vanilla.

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