Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Great Air Potato Round-up 2011

Yes!  Back at it after a 3-year hiatus.  DJ is in Cub Scouts and his troop went out Saturday morning to help in this year's air potato roundup.  Here is a link to the 2008 post about the round-up, and it was fun reading over it, especially because that was a really rainy, miserable-weather day and I tried to weasel out of it but DJ wasn't having none of it, and we still had a blast.  This year's round-up, however, was still kind of chilly, but the sun was out and it made for a very pleasant excursion into the woods.  I learned today (from the old man) that they choose this part of the season to pick air potatoes because the vines have frozen and/or died, making the air potatoes easier to spot on the vine.

There were a lot of people there, and I got to meet some of the parents from DJ's troop, and got to round up some air potatoes for about a half-hour; then, unfortunately, I had to leave to sign DJ up for spring baseball at another park across town.  I was really into rounding up air potatoes (honest!) but by the time I returned to the site everyone was already leaving.

DJ is starting to dislike my PDA!  It was too soon!
Ton of folks w/buckets and kitty litter containers
I mentioned in the 2008 post that there is an addictive quality to collecting air potatoes.  I was saying to the old man this morning, as we were tromping around in the woods behind a park, that it must be some primitive hunter-gatherer instinct that makes this activity so appealing, year after year, to so many people.  There is an acquisitive aspect to it, collecting air potatoes in a bucket that you add to the largesse of potatoes that are then, ostensibly, weighed and calculated to see how many pounds we collected.  There is also a contest for the "largest" and "weirdest" air potatoes, so that adds to the excitement of collecting; the old man was convinced he and Gus had found the largest AND weirdest (the weirdest was an air potato that looked the Mickey Mouse).  Unfortunately, neither of them won in either category so that was a bit of a let-down for DJ.  His next big disappointment was not winning the big pink cruiser that was the grand prize at the after-round-up celebration at Morningside Nature Center.  This is even AFTER winning one of the 20(?) gift packages that they make up from contributions by local businesses(!).  I just have to shake my head and realize that the horror you put your parents through really does come back to bite you in the butt when you have kids of your own.

My personal haul from the event - yes, I'm still feeling guilty
The after-round-up celebration was a lot of fun, and a lot more comfortable this year with the sun in full January display and the ground reasonably dry.  The celebration was held outside of the new, screened-in pavilion at Morningside, and they had a band playing when we got there.  There were tons of people and we immediately made our way to the t-shirt booth.  I feel kind of guilty about taking a t-shirt this year since I really didn't help that much but I rationalize that (and the free snacks) by saying that I volunteer for the Gainesville Parks and Recreation already (with my participation at the living history farm) and I'm doing a blog post about the event that will be seen, ostensibly, by 70 people who follow this blog (70 PEOPLE!  I cannot believe it, a big 'thank you' to everyone ☺).
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