Monday, March 7, 2011

Sunday's Column - Dates

Sunday's column was about the date business in Palm Springs.  Dates are difficult little devils to grow and need constant attention.  It's hard to understand why Mr. and Mrs. Shields left their Iowa home in 1924 to come all the way out here to grow them.
Dates can take from five to 20 years to grow and they have to have the fruit fertilized by hand.  They also have to be permanently moist deep down in the roots, and have all the growing fruit covered with bags in high summer, which in Palm Springs can be very high indeed.

But the Shields' prospered and became successful.  People will travel miles to sample one of their "date shakes,"  I didn't on my visit, although at 10:00 a.m. there were lots of people milling around in the gardens and outdoor cafe, where breakfast was being served under the spreading palm trees.

Palm Springs is at its best at this time of the year and for people up above the snow line it's only two hours away; not a long drive for a 50 degree improvement in temperature.

Of course in the summer it's the other way around to get away from the scorching heat that is the desert.  But for now, enjoy the wonderful climate change and perhaps a box of dates from Shields visitor center.

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