Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Eating An Artichoke

Before Pam, the only artichokes I had ever eaten were the hearts that came out of a jar and used in a salad or on pizza.

I met her when I worked for the Taylor County Extension Service as a homemaker aide - or some such title. My job was to call on low-income families and teach them about nutrition.

This was around 1980 - when I had moved from Des Moines back to my country roots. Pam was a transplanted big city girl, moving with her three sons from Kansas City to Taylor County. Why I don't remember, for a fresh start after a divorce, I think. Anyway she met and married a local farmer and had two more boys.

We hit it off and a year or so later when she and her husband separated and we were both operating as single parents, we got together often. One of her boys was the age of my youngest son, another the same age as my daughter. While Pam and I fixed a meal, drank some wine and shared our woes over men, the kids played or talked or listened to music.

Pam always referred to her privileged childhood of growing up in a well-to-do family, shopping in the downtown department stores, eating in fancy restaurants. That must be how the subject of artichokes came up. She asked if I had ever eaten one and when I said I hadn't she decided the next time we had dinner at her house she was going to show me how to eat an artichoke.

When I first looked at this photo taken at a mall in Des Moines of Pam on the right and my daughter Kari on the left with her friend Natalie in between, I was thinking it was when Kari & Natalie had won their junior high women's history presentation and got to go to state. But it was after Kari had moved back to West Des Moines to live with her father. Pam, Natalie and I had driven up to see Kari in a play (or concert) and spend the next day with her.
It was Kari's desire to attend Valley High School, where her Dad taught, that led us to move back to the city. Pam and I stayed in touch for awhile, but gradually grew apart.

So, in 1993, when Des Moines area author, Mary Kay Shanley, wrote She Taught Me To Eat Artichokes, about a cautious meeting between neighbors and how it grew one petal at a time until the heart of friendship was exposed, I immediately thought of Pam.

And how she had taught me how to eat an artichoke.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh, Bobby Lilly. I haven't thought about him in ages. Goodness, I had SUCH a crush on him!