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Sticker shock on the fruit aisle

Some things in life take you by surprise. Although I know there are many old-timers out there who could raise my eyebrows with the stories of things they have seen in their lifetime, I have learned that whatever surprises us the most is whatever recently happened.

For me, the shock came today.

For the last week or so, I have been in the mood for some sweet summer cherries. So, during my lunch break I went to a local store to satisfy my craving.

I knew cherries can be a little pricey, but I figured the nutritional and tantalizing benefits would be worth the price - until I heard the cashier's quote.

Maybe I've lived a sheltered life, but I did not expect to pay almost $12 for an afternoon snack. Heck, I wouldn't even pay $12 for an afternoon lunch.

I am a single mom with two teen-age sons. Filling them up is no cheap fare. But for $12, I could get them two value meals, including drinks, at a fast food restaurant.

If you want to argue that the cherries are healthier than fast food, then I'll say that I could get two low-fat meals at Subway for the same price. For only a dollar or two more, I could fill them up at the all-you-can-eat buffet at Ryan's.

Needless to say, I declined the cherries. Many of you may scoff at me for feeling this way, but I just couldn't enjoy the indulgence when I couldn't get the cost out of my head.

For the immediate solution, I purchased a half-pint of blueberries.

But even here, I knew I was beat.

I could probably go to Mr. Burnley's farm on Salem Road and get two pounds of berries for the same price. To ease my guilt, I called Mr. Burnley and asked about his crop. He said it was quite good for two months, but the berries are all gone now.

Then I discovered the solution to my problem in an unlikely place. While talking to Michelle Zupan, the curator at Hickory Hill, I learned details about the Watermelon Festival.

I was unable to attend last year's festival because I was literally moving to Thomson. But it sounds as if y'all have been keeping a great secret from me.

The festival boasts lots of old-fashioned fun - watermelon throwing, watermelon recipes, seed spitting contest, greased watermelon races, and watermelon carving.

I'm not sure what turkeys and watermelons have in common, but the National Turkey Calling champion will also be there. I guess he will emcee the watermelon-eating contest - "gobble, gobble, gobble."

But the best part is attendees can eat all the watermelon they want. It's free. It might not be a bowl of cherries, but it's an indulgence I can savor.

Web posted on Wednesday, August 2, 2006

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