Lakeside Farm Dup

I’m a fan of pickles. Sweet gherkins and kosher dills — I love them both. And I have a great recipe for refrigerator bread-and-butter pickles. The prospect of enjoying a pickled red beet egg or some good chow chow also makes my day. But, it’s one thing to enjoy pickles and another thing to be “in a pickle.”

“In a pickle” — what a curious phrase. I knew it meant to be in a tough situation or facing a difficult decision, but how did it originate, I wondered? I turned to the Internet for help.

Some online sources referenced a 16th-century Dutch phrase, “in de pekel zitten,” which translates to “sitting in the pickle.” Grammarist.com stated that’s an idiom for being drunk — and I have heard the term “pickled” used to describe someone who has consumed too much alcohol. However, the website eceenglich.com has a different spin on the pickled part. That website attributes the phrase to the 17th century, when it supposedly alluded “to the idea of being as mixed up and disoriented as the pickled vegetables in a jar.”

Grammarist.com also pointed out that the phrase, “in a pickle,” may owe its popularity to William Shakespeare. In Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest,” Alonso asks Trinculo, “How camest thou to be in this pickle?” Trinculo responds, “I have been in such a pickle since I saw you last that, I fear me, will never out of my bones.”

Never having seen The Tempest, I’ll have to take Grammarist.com’s word for it that this usage also references the usage of too much alcohol.

I recently found myself in a pickle that had nothing to do with alcohol or marinated vegetables. It was an October Saturday when our balmy summerlike weather was predicted to fall victim to a swift-moving cold front that would plunge our temperatures by 20 degrees. Suddenly, it seemed like a good idea to wrap up several outdoor projects before wintry cold arrived.

Though even more of our infamous Kieffer pears would no doubt come tumbling down from their tree when the cold winds arrived, I gathered up another garden cart load of fallen pears and took them to our unofficial composting area. It’s in an old concrete foundation in a faraway corner where our garden meets the soybean field.

The foundation belonged to what had once been a reservoir for the former Cleona Water Co., a business founded by my great-grandfather. It was later replaced by an adjacent smaller reservoir, which still provides some of the water for our farm. However, the area within the low walled remains of the old reservoir makes a perfect place to dispose of brush, weeds, garden residue, etc.

That old reservoir is where I deposit our unwanted Kieffer pears, though the growth of the surrounding pine trees and arborvitae has made it more difficult to access the points where it’s easiest to dump the garden cart. On the day of the impending cold front, I also wanted to attend to some low hanging branches and “suckers” erupting from our backyard’s maple and Chinese chestnut trees, as well as get rid of some of the chestnut burrs that littered the grass.

With an eye to the sky and the weather radar on my cell phone, I forged ahead, dumping load after load of the aforementioned detritus inside the old concrete foundation. It was a race against time, made more challenging because some of the tree trimmings were starting to clog up my dumping area.

That’s when I used one of the longer branches to shove other limbs farther into this composting area. Alas — I reached a bit too far, lost my balance and did a slow-motion tumble into a corner of the old reservoir. When I came to rest, I was crunched into a V-shape, with my feet resting on the west side wall and my upper body pinned against the north wall.

I tried to jump right up, but it soon became obvious that getting out was going to be a lot more difficult than falling in had been. “I’m in a pickle!” I thought to myself.

I could hear Dennis mowing the lawn at some far corner of the farm, thus, calling out to him was useless. I didn’t have my cell phone with me, so that was out, too. The good news was that I hadn’t fallen far and I wasn’t in pain. The bad news was that my repeated attempts to hoist myself upright failed — and then I started thinking about the rotted pears and chestnut burrs the bottom of my vee was resting on.

It was the thought of those rotten pears soaking into my jeans that gave me the burst of adrenaline necessary to rebound out over the reservoir’s wall. I incurred a small cut on my elbow, a scrape on my knee and a slightly bruised shoulder, but my injuries were nothing that some anti-bacterial soap, first aid spray and Tylenol couldn’t take care of. Even my muddy pear-stained jeans just needed a good washing.

I sure was glad to get out of that pickle.

Sue Bowman is a freelance writer in southeastern Pennsylvania.

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