My wife, Donna, sent me to town to purchase the last items we had on our list for our vacation. I was working my way down the bread aisle at Wal-Mart when a lady stopped me.
“I’m sorry to bother you,” she said, “but I’m not from around here. Could you tell me what is a good brand of bread?”
We usually make our own bread, but when we do buy some at the store, there are certain varieties I prefer, so I told her which ones they were and why we like them.
“So, where are you from?” I asked when I finished.
She told me, and then I asked her what she thought of our area. “It’s beautiful here,” she said. “The sky is always blue, and it never rains. Where I am from it rains every day, and often a couple of times per day. Another thing I like is the open space. A person can look out and see for miles.” She paused for a moment, and then continued. “But there is one thing I really wish they would do around here.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“They really need signs for the tourists.”
“What do you mean?”
“For example,” she said, “there are these big things out in the fields spraying out water or something. They need signs to tell us what that is all about.”
“Those are sprinklers,” I replied. “And they water the fields.”
“Why do they need to water the fields?” she asked.
“You know how you said that where you are from it rains sometimes twice per day? Well, here, it rains sometimes twice per summer, so we have to water our crops.”
This really stunned her. She thought about it a moment, and then asked, “And what is that tall golden and green grass in the fields?”
“That is wheat,” I told her. “It is mostly ripe, and that is why it is mostly golden. The part that is not ripe is still green, but it will all be golden in a couple of weeks.”
“And what about the fields of dark green stuff that is about two feet high?”
“Those are potatoes,” I answered.
She grinned at that. “I have always wanted to know what potatoes look like, and to think that I have seen fields and fields of them and didn’t even know that’s what they were.”
“Is there anything else you want to know about?” I asked.
“There is one more thing,” she replied. “I see miles and miles of this grey, woody bush. What is that?”
I had to think a minute to figure out what that one was, but I suddenly realized what she was talking about. “Oh, that is sagebrush.”
“What do they grow it for, western movie sets?”
I smiled, but shook my head. “No, it grows naturally. No one grows it; it just grows on wild land that no one has yet planted.”
We visited for a little while longer. When I went home I told Donna about my conversation with the woman. “Can you believe that someone doesn’t know what potatoes look like?” I asked, laughing. “I guess we do need to start putting up signs for the tourists.”
She smiled at me. “Don’t think it is too unusual. When I first moved here from Los Angeles, I felt the same way that woman does.”
Soon we headed on our vacation. As we traveled along the Pacific Coast Highway, certain plants intrigued me. “Honey, what do you think these fields of bluish green plants are?”
Donna just smiled. “I don’t know, Dear. Maybe they need to put up some signs for the tourists.”