Opinion: Summer pods can drive you crazy | Opinion
Arizona and ancient Greece are separated by thousands of years and thousands of miles, but there is a stain that makes Greek mythology a reality of Arizona in this modern time and season.
It is found in an annual duty that surprises many new desert dwellers, fresh out of their bragging to friends who stay in colder winter climes.
Be honest…how many times have you taunted friends still living in Chicago, Minneapolis or Omaha with this articulation of the obvious: “We don’t have to shovel the sun when it’s winter in the desert!”
That’s true, but another seasonal claim fails the credibility test.
It looks like this: “And another thing…we don’t need rakes in the desert because there are no autumn leaves falling.”
But many newcomers quickly find that they need at least one rake…and maybe a few more.
Fall may not bring leaf fall, but summer certainly brings pod fall…at least for homeowners who choose to plant mesquite trees on their property.
And because of that fateful decision, these homeowners soon find they’ve condemned themselves to seemingly endless summer days with a rake in hand, picking up pods from the ground.
Age and circumstances offer an interesting paradox in the human condition.
School children, when engaged in the routine of academic activities, find themselves staring out of classroom windows, imagining their post-school future “without the classroom”. Adults, engaged in “responsible but not enjoyable” age-appropriate tasks, find themselves recalling the lessons of their school days, freeing their minds from the physical drudgery in which they are involved.
The personal experience, in the midst of collecting the pods, sparked a memory of the fate of Sisyphus.
If you need a quick “refresh” on this particular figure from Greek mythology, here it is: Sisyphus was a king, and because he cheated death twice, Zeus punished him by forcing Sisyphus to roll a huge rock on a hill. – only to see him roll each time he approached the top – and repeat this action for all eternity.
OK, OK… so picking up mesquite pods isn’t an eternal fate… that’s how it is.
Visitors take note: In the Arizona desert, those “lazy, foggy summer days” aren’t lazy or foggy…but if you have mesquites, they’ll drive you a little crazy.
The above is offered as a “public service” for those considering moving here – especially if they’re from California, which has fostered its own kind of craziness in the recent past.
But in research conducted exclusively for this column, a constructive use of mesquite pods has been discovered… which may sound a little crazy… uh… different to you.
An October 2009 Associated Press article, still available on “The Christian Science Monitor” website, advertises the culinary value of mesquite pods, claiming that in the Southwest they are a “tasty candy”. . He goes on to say that they are “now being added to smoothies, breads and pancakes”.
The group “Desert Harvesters,” or DH, as the organization calls itself, is mentioned prominently in the 2009 AP story.
A visit to the DH website reveals updated language that is certainly acceptable for “political correctness”. While acknowledging the help of area tribes and thanking them for access to traditional lands, Desert Harvesters “also acknowledges our continued commitment to unlearning and helping to change colonial behaviors.”
But apparently no serious effort was made to “unlearn” colonial trade-promoting behavior. A link to the DH virtual store promotes a cookbook at the “special pre-order price” of $35, and also invites those seriously committed to hour-long “group walks” that can accommodate up to a dozen people and costing $150.
There are discounts for “non-profits and Indigenous people buying for educational purposes.”
The lofty goals of the Desert Reapers, despite heavily “woke” rhetorical seasoning, may soon be widely publicized. If supply lines continue to slow and food shortages become a reality in this country, mesquite pods may soon find use in a kitchen near you.
But if you think that argument can be made while pods are still falling and store shelves remain fairly well stocked, you might as well seek out a beachfront property in Yuma – roll a big boulder up a steep hill again and again in true Sisyphean fashion.
JD Hayworth represented Arizona in the United States House from 1995 to 2007. He drafted and sponsored the Enforcement First Act, legislation that would have mandated federal immigration enforcement in the 109th Congress.