Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

May 08, 2004

Twins back on TV

The corporate greed-heads solved their dispute--Carl Pohlad gave way, folded up his fledgling Victory Sports Network and agreed to have the Twins broadcast on Fox Sports, as they were last year.

I don't care what the agreement is, I am just happy that a couple of nights per week, I will be able to come home, flop on the recliner and catch a game. I didn't know I would miss it so much until it was taken away.

Meanwhile, the Twins have stopped scoring runs. They have lost a couple of heartbreakers and won a couple of squeakers. The pitching has been doing pretty well--better than earlier. However, when the bats go completely cold, it is tough to win.

HUGE day at the nursery today, the day before Mother's Day. Many guilt-ridden relatives of locals calling from far away, hoping to have us do something quick for Mom. We do our best to comply.

It is funny to see the offspring try to appease the parents--and do such a fumbling job of it, often convinced that the more they spend, the more their effort will be appreciated. Then poor grumbling Mom comes and wishes she would have had a chance to pick out her own stuff instead of having some huge planter foisted upon her. Sometimes I am aware of what the Mom's prefer and let them do their thing with their childrens' money. The children never know--they live in California. They wanted a pink planter because Mom's favorite color is pink. Mom would rather have a tray of petunias for the back flower bed.

May 07, 2004

Abuses in Iraq

It is shocking that American soldiers charged with holding prisoners of war were not briefed on the basics of the Geneva Convention, the agreement which has governed the treatment of prisoners of war for the past century.

Treating prisoners of war properly is very important. Even the Nazis honored the Geneva Convention on the western front (they were far more savage on the eastern front) until the last months of the war when they finally threw all decency out the window.

There are reasons not to abuse prisoners of war beyond the obvious fact that decent human beings don't do such things to those who are helpless. First, you must treat prisoners of war humanely if you expect your prisoners of war to be treated humanely in return. Second, if you are waging a moral crusade to bring your way of life to some other country, you must uphold the highest standards of conduct if you expect anybody to believe you at all.

Of course, those who abused the Iraqi prisoners are going to be hung out to dry. I suspect that most of their superiors will maintain their positions. But the failure here goes far up the chain of command. If the honoring the Geneva Convention had been important from the start, it would have been a priority in training. In fact, it seems a simple memo to the effect that prisoners are to be treated with dignity would have done the job.

May 05, 2004

A wearying wind

Wind warnings out for the Red River Valley. Tales of low visibility due to blowing dirt. Grit everywhere, including my mouth--it is one of those springs where the wind just doesn't quit. Either it is hot and dry, or cold and wet. So far, no rain. So the soil is blowing, and I fear that some of the farmer's crops are going to be blown out of the ground.

The plastic on the greenhouses flaps loudly. It makes a lot of noise, but it never blows off. However, the noise gives everybody a weary look when they come in for break. Wind does that. It tires one out whether or not you are working directly in it.

FRIEND Andrea, a chef extraordinaire and a food columnist for the Fargo Forum came up to buy plants today--and brought two vats of soup along. Andrea's soup is always wonderful. Everything Andrea cooks is wonderful. So, it was fun for everybody to partake in the Tomato Tuna soup, as well as some old-fashioned Chicken Noodle. The soup seemed appropriate on this windy day, and we

I WENT TO Detroit Lakes last night to speak at a plant party hosted by a master gardener. We had the meeting in the garage of a brand new group home. We needed jackets, but it was refreshing to meet outdoors. Or partially outdoors.

The highlight, however, was watching the sunset to the west as I drove up Highway 59 towards Mahnomen. The highway crosses high bluffs on that stretch (high for this part of the country, anyway), and at times you feel as if you are overlooking the world below. It was perfectly clear.

I was looking forward to the lunar eclipse last night--advertised at the garden party--however, when I looked on the internet, I found that event was already over with and was a spectacle reserved for the Eastern Hemisphere.

Oh well, the moon last night was yellow and full.

THE TWINS went 16 innings before losing to the Mariners in Seattle last night. I do enjoy listening to late night games on the west coast. However, it seemed things weren't going the Twins' way last night, so I went to bed after the ninth inning. Glad I didn't stay up only to have them lose on a controversial play a couple of hours later.

May 03, 2004

People Bonus II

An elderly man came to the nursery today to buy a couple of trees. He mentioned to Joe that he hadn't been to the nursery since 1951, and boy has it ever changed. I'll say.

I got to talking to him and asked him how old he was. He said in a few weeks he'll be 98. Dad said, well, you didn't drive here, did you? to which the man replied, "well, I sure didn't walk!"

At the same time, an elderly couple pulled up in their car. They said they had driven up from Wheaton, MN to buy some of those wonderful hardy roses we advertised. One-hundred thirty-seven miles! They bought six roses and turned around and went home.

That man was 87 years old. Earlier in the day he had bought a new car. He was proud as punch. Drove all the way from Wheaton and the gas gauge was still on full.

While I was talking to these two old guys, two women were having a great time picking out plants. They had driven up from Fergus Falls. "We didn't know you were here!" they said.

I was happy to find out that they came to the nursery because they heard me speak at the college in Fergus about a month ago. I had wondered if it was worth it for me to drive that far to speak, thinking it probably wouldn't generate much business. After they loaded up their jeep with $700 worth of plants, I felt a lot better about taking that speaking engagement.

Earlier in the day, I designed a plan for a couple from Thief River Falls. The man was sardonic, like many retired men, wondering what his wife was spending money on now. After I spent an hour with them, he softened up. They bought their stuff and as they walked out the door, the man said, "This has been fun."

So, a satisfying day in the nursery trade.

Of course, the public has its foibles. One of my favorite are people who walk up to you and say, "I am the one who called!" expecting me to instantly distinguish them from those poor saps who didn't call.

A lady pulled that one today. I am the one who called. Oh how I have to repress my smart aleck instincts. Well, I said, I have had quite a few calls. Well, she said, Douglas Finkentooter is my nephew! I had no idea who Douglas Finkentooter was, but I said, "Oh, of course!" That seemed to satisfy her.

Human vanity never fails to amaze me, but it isn't healthy to dwell on that aspect of human nature for long. It would drive you nuts.

You remember me, don't you?

People Bonus

Reader BW dubbed the fact that I meet interesting people every day at the nursery a "people bonus." Good phrase for it.

Yes, just when I wrote about people planting memorial trees--

A couple flagged me down this weekend, wondering if I had some time to talk. Well, I didn't--I had four people waiting for me already to wrap their trees, or whatever, so I was in a rush, but I said I would do what I could--

Well, they had lost their son recently and wanted to plant a memorial tree. I felt bad because I had been a little brusk, so I passed off the other customers onto the others and took a little time with them to figure out something which would work.

The trouble with the busy season at the nursery is that I don't get time to spend quality time with each customer. You just can't do it on the weekends when we have hundreds of people wanting attention. I can get stressed and a little rushed. People seem to be clawing at me like a dozen meowing cats and I forget that they all have driven many miles to hand me cash.

A memorial tree incident gives me perspective once again. I need to focus on the customer in front of me and give them full attention regardless of how many others are waiting. That is the challenge.

Green ditches

The ditches are the first to green up. Before the grass gets long, the ditches look like golf fairways. The fresh green of early spring is particularly welcome. We are color-deprived here from November through about May first.

The green ditches of early May always remind me of high school prom when I dolled up the old Chevy pickup and drove 20 miles (past the green ditches) to pick up my date. I was decked out in a black polyester suit with bell bottoms and a clip on tie. Also, a yellow shirts. Quite the threads.

BUSY WEEKEND at the nursery. Not that I didn't have time to write entries in the weblog, I just didn't have the thoughts. I spent much of the weekend in the cold storage room selling trees.

WAS GOING TO say that there is nothing I would rather do after a long day of work than settle down to a Twins game on the tube, which is impossible now because my satellite company hasn't yet negotiated an agreement with Victory Sports. However, the Twins stopped scoring runs this weekend, so that wouldn't have been much fun.