Down on the Farm

Weekly column by Eric Bergeson.

Stomach flu

The stomach flu wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t so quickly go to the brain. Recovering one’s digestive health is one thing. Bringing back a healthy perspective on life is quite another.

The first mental effect of the stomach flu is an overpowering revulsion towards whatever food you ate just before you got the flu. If it was steak, you never want to eat steak again. If it was Cherrios, the mere sight of a box of them on a shelf is likely to cause post-traumatic stress.

Steroids in baseball

It is now clear that the sanctity of baseball’s record book was sullied by steroids. When Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds chewed up Roger Maris’ home run record a few years back, they likely did so with the help of “performance-enhancing supplements” of the non-Viagra variety.

Of course, they all deny that they took drugs that morphed them into the Incredible Hulk. They were merely lifting weights and taking vitamins. Oh, and that guy in the clubhouse with the needles? He didn’t really tell me what he was putting in my veins. Could have been anything.

Martha's downfall

So, Martha Stewart’s going to spend some time in the pen. The week has been filled with jokes about her redecorating her cell. People seem to relish her fall.

Martha’s crime wasn’t that big a deal. She sold some stock using inside information, which is illegal. But that sort of thing happens every day on Wall Street, the world’s largest casino, where fat cats rob money from ignorant small investors as if it were their right.

Uff da

Whoever invented the term “uff da” had to have March in mind. If somebody hasn’t done it already, March should be declared National Uff Da month.

Get caught in a mini-blizzard on your way home from Fargo? Uff da. Got cabin fever after five months of cold weather? Uff da. Did you try watching TV to pass the hours only to find its all trash? Uff da.

Just settled into your chair only to remember that you’re supposed to be at Lenten services in a half-an-hour? Uff da. Run out of milk after the store closed? Uff da.

New Cat

With my heart softened by an article in the newspaper about all the cats languishing at the Humane Society, I drove up and picked one out a couple of weeks ago.

The cat came with the name Nemo, but to me it is just “cat.” Cats don’t know their names anyway.

The real problem is whether to refer to the animal as a he, she, or an it. Felines seem female to me. But this one is a male, so I suppose it should be a he.

Home Sweet Home

On my recent trip through California, I tried to explain to a lifelong resident of San Mateo, a city in the San Francisco Bay area, what it is like to live on a farm in the prairie.

He listened with a creased brow, trying to comprehend. Finally, he said, “You know I visited Fresno once, and I thought, wow, here is a town out in the middle of nowhere, how can anybody live here? What would a person do?”

The great issues of the day...

According to the Constitution, you must be thirty-five years of age and a natural-born citizen of the United States in order to be president.

Those restrictions are wise. Any younger than thirty-five and you might get somebody who’s more interested in using the power of the office to seduce members of the opposite sex than they are in acting all dignified like a president should. Older than thirty-five, they should have that out of their system.

Burns, OR

You don’t get much more remote than Burns, Oregon. A ranching town in sparsely-populated eastern Oregon, surrounded by mountains, buttes and plateaus in every direction, Burns is 120 miles from the nearest towns of any consequence.

Burns is home to my Uncle Don and Aunt Lois and a whole clan of cousins. I have visited their home many times over the years, including once as a teenager when I spent a month helping out on their ranch.


No picture can capture the enchanted grandeur of a grove of giant redwoods. I tried with my Nikon. I failed, so I looked for photos for sale by others. However, no picture did the big trees justice.

The redwoods grow a couple of miles inland from the ocean most of the way up the California coast north of San Francisco. They thrive where there is frequent fog and rain.

California dreams

It is no secret why half the world wants to live in California. It is difficult to imagine a more beautiful or varied place.

The highest mountain in the lower forty-eight states is in California. The biggest and oldest trees in the world are in California. No state raises more crops, from almonds to zucchini.