Always go for the berries

Canadiansis excrementii

The good life according to Canadiansis excrementii.

The coffee shop guy (baristo?) didn’t hesitate when I asked him which scone he recommended–the blueberry or the lemon. “Always go for the berries,” he said. His reasoning was that the basic batter was the same for both and included a touch of lemon. And so I had the lemon-infused blueberry scone.

It occurred to me that his advice had a wider application, and I promised to look. Later that day, inspired by the debut of yet another generation of Canada geese (Canadiansis excrementii), several interpretations of “always go for the berries” came to mind:

  • “Know what’s important.” Eat dessert first.
  • “Be on the lookout for something special amidst the routine.” Pay attention or someone else will find that insect or corn kernel lying in the weeds.
  • “Given a choice, select the most extraordinary or rare.” Don’t fill up on grass at the all-you-can-eat park buffet.
  • “Look for the two-fer.” Garbage is a likely source of more than one food group at a time.
  • “What are you waiting for?” Keep moving. Don’t dawdle. Food isn’t going to jump in your mouth.
  • “Enjoy now and deal with the consequences later.” Like berries through a goose.

What does “always go for the berries” mean to you? If you favor an alternative philosophy, what is it?

[Second Thought: It is possible, of course, to overdo this advice and by always choosing berries, destroy their mystique. Going for the berries without exception risks becoming desensitized to their special delights. Overused becomes overlooked. That’s why in J-School they warn against resorting to the same fireworks every time to open story, an error known as “berrying the lede.”]

From toddler to teenager in three seconds flat

I'm com-ming.

Man at work.

Grandson O was vocal from the start. What we used to call a chatterbox. Although his babble had the familiar rhythm and intonation of speech, the vocabulary was all his own.

O was in no hurry to speechify regular English. There was no need for language reciprocity for most of his first two years, as if his world were fine as is. Although we adults must’ve seemed a bit dimwitted to him, the accommodations and service we provided were good enough not to require correcting.

Then at about 20 months something changed. Almost overnight O became a tour guide through the land of language acquisition. Each day he produced new words, then began stringing them together in twos and threes. And in the process, he reminded us that communication resides in more than words and their juxtaposition. There’s also meaning in attitude.

The other day, O’s mother called him to dinner. Once. Twice.

Unfortunately O was busy and not to be interrupted. After the third directive, he apparently realized that somebody needed to cool it. So without pausing in his play, O replied, “I’m com-ming.”

Which–as his tone made clear–he had no intention of doing.

The reluctant acknowledgment. The insincere commitment. The casual dismissal.The unassailable conviction that his schedule took precedence over all others–the attitude behind his response was a revelation and a revolution.

From toddler to teenager in three seconds flat. Waiting for the calendar to catch up is going to be fun.