Happy Arbor Day!


Breathe deep, my friends, and rejoice! Arbor Day is here once again!

Arbor Day is one of my favorite holidays after Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Labor Day, and the fourth of July. It’s a holiday to honor trees. However, I think limiting it to just trees does not reflect the true spirit our forefathers in Nebraska had in mind when creating Arbor Day. I’m hard core; I celebrate not only trees, but all vegetation on Arbor Day, regardless of woody stem.

So, in honor of Arbor Day, I decided to give our chlorophylled friends the day off and eat nothing but animals.

I woke up early and made myself breakfast. Normally breakfast is a large Diet Pepsi and a dime bag of Cheerios. Not today. Cheerios are made of grains and that would send the wrong message. Instead, I cooked myself a mess of bacon and eggs. No juice though; I promised to eat no veggie nor bleed any fruit dry on Arbor Day. Instead I had a big glass of milk courtesy of a cow that I was probably going to eat later in the day.

I didn’t think lunch would be a challenge; after all, I was headed to the Home of the Whopper. I was just about to order the namesake when it dawned on me: burgers have buns! On top of that (speaking of toppings), almost everything on a Whopper is plant based: lettuce, onions, tomatoes, ketchup, pickles, mustard… I don’t know exactly what mayonnaise is, but it probably contained a leafy something or other at one time.

I pulled up to the drive thru menu. “I’d like a plain Whopper without a bun,” I said. There was a long pause.

“Do you want a wrap instead?” I shook my head (not the best of moves in the drive-thru). Wraps were made of wheat.

“No…” I thought quickly. “Can you just substitute two patties instead of the bun?” There was another long pause. “I’d also like a Diet Coke,” I added. At least that was safe. I’m reasonably sure there is no vegetable matter in Diet Coke. I believe they extract it from wells in the earth.

I wasn’t all that hungry when dinner time rolled around, but I felt it was my duty as head of the household to give Arbor Day the proper send off. There was a problem though. We were planning on having spaghetti. Semolina, by any other name, would still just be wheat. Tomato sauce? No good. But meatballs… that gave me an idea. My grandmother – bless her heart – used to make meatballs for us. I knew she had given Meka the recipe and – sure enough – my wife had if safely tucked away underneath a pile of stuff in the far corner of the small cabinet over the refrigerator. Basically, the recipe called for meat. That’s it. Grandma didn’t believe in gumming up the works with additional ingredients when a single one would do. I rolled the meat into balls and cooked them for about three hours at high heat until there was nothing even remotely resembling red anywhere. Grandma didn’t want us getting worms.

We sat down to dinner and everyone agreed the meatballs were just like we remembered. Take a bite, drink a glass of milk. Take another bite, drink another glass of milk. I noticed Meka’s eyes teared up a bit after three or four bites. I guess it was the memories of my dear, sweet grandmother. Either that or she was choking despite the milk. The meteoritic nature of the meatballs did make them a bit of a challenge to swallow. We finished up and had some old school Jell-O for dessert.

I went to bed with a light heart and a lump in my stomach. However, my discomfort was a small price to pay to celebrate another Arbor Day. Maybe next year, I can spread the word. Maybe next year I can send everyone Arbor Day cards from Hallmark!

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