Last week we spent a day in Yosemite with Nate’s parents. (It was beyond breathtaking, by the way.) On the way home, we drove through California’s Central Valley (you know, one of the world’s best spots for growing food). We passed acres and acres of fields and orchards. On the particular road we were on, there were a gazillion almond trees. Here are a few unripe almonds from some of those trees. Aren’t they pretty?
None of us had ever seen an almond tree. We were intrigued. You could tell the fruit was in its early stages and Nate’s mom, Pat, was dying to hop out of the car to get a closer look. We finally found a spot where it was safe to pull over. As the car came to a stop, we noticed a “Beware of Dog” sign on a fence surrounding the orchard’s farmhouse. It was a few yards off and we kind of figured it was more of a sign to scare people. Nate’s mom hesitated before getting out, but we told her, “It will be fine. Go ahead!” So, she hops out of the car and walks to the nearest tree.
As her hand reaches out to feel what the almonds are like, we suddenly hear barking. We are all surprised. Yeah, we saw the sign. But still. Really? There is an actual dog to beware of? Nate’s mom sort of starts to panic. With only inches to go before her hand will reach the forbidden fruit, we all see it. The dog. It’s small, but scrappy, and has a fierce bark. And he’s running our way. Fast. Pat tears for the car, all the while yelling, “I’m just going to look at them! I’m not picking them!” For some reason, the dog didn’t listen.
Did you know that mini van doors close slowly? Well, they do. Thankfully, it closed just before the dog got to us.
As we drove away, laughing hysterically, I asked Pat, still recovering with adrenaline coursing through her veins, what the almonds felt like. “I don’t know, I didn’t even touch them!” Of course we laughed harder.
A mile or two down the road we saw a fabulous produce stand, surrounded by almond trees. We stopped to buy some nuts. Nate and Pat recounted the close call with the dog to the woman who owned the market. She told them they were more than welcome to look at her almonds and even pick a few to look at more closely. She wouldn’t even sic any dogs on us.
Thanks to Pat’s persistence and bravery, we all got a close-up look of an early-stage almond. And we all learned a lesson. If an orchard has a “Beware of Dog” sign, probably best to beware!