Monday, July 10, 2006

idle conversation

Stopping to chat with coworkers can prove rewarding.

Today I ran into Cara in the hallway. She noticed that I had some sun on my face so asked about my weekend. I shared my enthusiasm about the new plants I put in - a hydrangea and phlox. I had fun tilling the spot for them, putting down hardwood mulch that smells wonderfully like a horse stable, and keeping the young plants watered.

She held out her hands, which were stained reddish-purple. She shared vivid images of making mulberry jelly. This endeavor made me think back to the July afternoons when I helped my mom make grape or berry jams and jellies in a steamy kitchen. We never attempted mulberry, although we had a large tree in the alley behind our house. I think the proximity of our neighbor's chicken coop - and the flies it attracted - discouraged us. Cara told of reaching way up into the branches of her very tall trees to select the fruit. Her hands became stained by squeezing the berries through a bag to separate the pulp from the many seeds.

Another time I was glad I stopped in the office down the hall to say hello. Another coworker had made a rhubarb crisp and when I stopped in late in the afternoon a one-inch square piece remained of the huge pan. "Oh please eat it," everyone begged. "We are stuffed and want to clean the pan." I was thinking to myself rhubarb - uh . . . . But I politely put the treat on a plate and dug in. It was wonderful! All those years my mother had made rhubarb pie and I never would even taste it. With this crisp, I couldn't believe how much sugar seemed to have been added and the rhubarbd was still extremely tart. An interesting mix of flavors!

No matter how busy you may be, life is too short not to take a few minutes from your workday and find out what is going on with those you share cubicle space with.

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