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Today felt like Spring. My daughter treated us to lunch in the back garden at Watson’s Veggie Garden and Health Food Store, a little oasis hidden in the middle of downtown Visalia. Our table sat in the middle of the lawn, although we could have chosen one under a great canopy or in the shade of a friendly tree. There were no traffic noises — even though we were just off Main Street — and the little one was free to wander around and visit the statuary until our meals came.

Even the menu was fanciful! Just imagine a tiny girl ordering a Nutter Butter sandwich, made from peanut butter and banana slices drizzled with local honey (I tried a bite — it was delicious!). After lunch we explored the store and marveled at the variety of gluten-free, vegan, organic, or local-grown foods they stock. And the chocolate truffles that sit next to the cash register. Oh, my!

Our surroundings sparked a conversation about how far we as humans have come from the way our bodies were designed to be fueled, our renewed awareness of GMOs in our food, and the many advantages of home vegetable gardens. I still maintain that we can turn things around with more careful food choices and many old-fashioned “victory gardens”. Although the war we are fighting is very different from the foreign enemies of WWII, the stakes are just as high. We cannot abdicate our responsibilities to provide “real” food, not additive-filled, chemical-infused concoctions, for our families.

I have been planning this spring’s garden in my head for a while, and now it is time to get to work. The weatherman is promising several days of rain this week to at least temporarily break our drought, so the back garden space should be ready to prepare after the rain stops. Last year I learned how far the shade reached into the garden spaces, and where the gopher holes snatched up all the water; that knowledge will guide my planting with (hopefully) better crop results this year.

I feel so sorry for those who are still having snow. Running around in a short-sleeved blouse today was marvelous, and I am grateful for it. Tomorrow’s forecast is for 79 degrees, followed by several days of more typical cool weather, and blessed rain. And I will be in the garden.

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