149 / 365 – Thistles

DAGNY KIELLAND

I never liked salad growing up. People eat it now so they don’t get too big, so I guess I have to like it. I need to get healthy, so I guess I should get to like those things.

Mom made us eat salad. I tried to come up with ways so I didn’t have to. My mother made me sit at the table until I had finished. Sometimes I sat there for a few hours. Then I didn’t have enough time to do my homework. I’m not sure that deal worked out the way my mom hoped.

Around this time of year, Mom used to tell me farm stories. Life was always harder on the farm, did you know that? I was always supposed to feel bad that Mom had a harder life growing up than I did. I shouldn’t have been so ungrateful, sitting there at the table in the kitchen for hours not eating this excellent salad she had made, with a dressing made from mayonnaise and ketchup. It was orange. She said it was Thousand Island dressing. Once I said, “We’re not supposed to eat this here in North Dakota. There aren’t any islands.” That argument didn’t work.

She told me when she was on the farm, at this time of year, late Spring, the root cellar would be starting to run out. All the onions and potatoes and turnips and squash that they had gotten through the winter, just about out. But then dandelions would sprout, and thistles. Some kinds of thistles, you could eat. Her mother would put the greens on the stove and cook them a little and they’d eat that, maybe with some fish if my grandfather had caught any or an animal if he had shot one. “Those were the lean times,” she liked to say. She wasn’t thin but she talked a lot about lean times she had been through.

I guess I should have felt pity for her, eating dandelions and thistles. That would be way worse than salad with fake Thousand Island dressing. But she probably didn’t have a mother who made her sit in the kitchen for hours either. I’ll bet they didn’t do that on the farm.

 

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