Skimming recent issues of Elle, you can find plenty of interviews with iconic women doing their own iconoclastic thing. And reading along, you can see one defining experience usually pushed them out to uncharted waters. Mary Kate Olsen was surrounded by kooky show biz people from the age of nine months. After a series of admittedly corny kids’ movies, she now pulls off what some people call “bag-lady chic,” is artsy and smart, and chose to talk to her interviewer at a trapeze lesson.
For Liz Phair, it was Oberlin College, where she saw the social system turned on its ear. She was amazed, she told Elle, to find “lesbians were on the top and the mainstream athletes were on the bottom.” It “knocked my socks off.” From there, the unsocked Phair went on to record tough and clever albums, never catering to Joe or Jane Jock.
The demand to conform pulls many a young lady, and plenty of young men to boot, but not all of them can have the opportunities that Olsen and Phair had. So what’s a kid to do?
Just go blueberry picking, I say.
This thought came to me on a recent trip to the Johnson Berry Farm for pick-your-own berries, as I marveled at the spindly bushes, unique as snowflakes, and the variation in the fruit. Just as not all little girls can have flawless skin and a slip of a figure, these fruits are not all perfectly plump and misty blue like those quarts upon quarts you see in the stores. Some were a tiny and had only achieved a delicate sea foam green or blushing baby pink, while others were as wide as a dime and had turned a bawdy Toulouse Lautrec red or a deep bruise purple. Ants had eaten through some, and others had fallen into the grass below. What variety and diversity, I thought. This was at least as good as seeing lesbians on top, and it was fit for all ages!
Luckily, the place is popular with kids, and the parents who want to give their kids a taste of where their food comes from. One tot was crying in the heat, but the others dodged between bushes and argued over which spot had the most ripe berries. As they plucked and explored and debated, they undoubtedly noticed the diversity around them, and realized that each fruit would ripen in its own way.
To find your way to Johnson Berry Farm, give ’em a call. The outgoing answering machine message in itself is worth it: