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Archive for North Oaks

The Sally and Margaret Show

A buckthorn twig with black berries. (Wikipedia)

A buckthorn twig with black berries. (Wikipedia)

< by Jill >

When your name is Jill, you’re bound to be called Jilly or Jillybean at some point in life. It’s less likely, however, that you will be called Margaret. Nonetheless, for many summers, my sister called me Margaret as we played co-hosts of an imaginary cooking show.

This nickname wasn’t selected randomly — Ann chose it in honor of my mom’s close friend Margaret, a woman known for her wisdom and sense of humor. Paying homage to another close friend of my mom’s, Ann adopted the name Sally. In this role, she mimicked Sally’s business aplomb and strict adherence to protocol.

The Sally and Margaret Show aired live from the front deck of our playhouse. We generally chose a theme for each episode, whether berry desserts, berry salads, berry juices, or just plain berries in a bowl. Now and then we’d sneak a few begonias from the garden and smash the petals to a juicy pulp, but most of the time we just worked with berries.

Buckthorn berries.

If you’ve lived in North Oaks, Minnesota for two minutes, you know that buckthorn trees are just the devil dressed in branches. These invasive trees produce juicy little berries that ripen and propagate throughout July and August. The berries, in turn, sprout new trees that strangle out desirable species, like maples and oaks. Annnnd they host aphids.

Ann and I didn’t quite understand the perils of meddling with buckthorn trees, so we harvested the berries and scattered their seeds like ignorant, but innocent, Johnny Appleseeds. The forests near our home flourished with buckthorns.

Although Ann and I relished the bountiful berry crop, The Sally and Margaret Show unwittingly joined the dark side and became public enemy No. 1 of the homeowner’s association. So, for security purposes, I now strictly go by Jill, Jilly, or Jillybean.