Nick Saban and the Produce Club

Football Fan with his Celebrity Autographs

MONDAY:  I thought this was going to be the day.  The day I couldn’t do it.  The day I’d be forced to cheat on my Bicycle Diet.  I could see it all crushing in, the collision of events and circumstances that would produce the first smudge on my yearlong challenge to use alternative transportation for grocery shopping.

My 12-year-old son greeted me after school with an excited and hopeful, “Can we go to the Senior Bowl Practice this afternoon?”  “Sure,” I responded, soaking in the “you’re-the-best-mom-ever” gushes from this 7th grade football fanatic.  After a brief stop at home to drop off the not-so-fanatic daughter and to grab a few supplies, we were off to watch the celebrated college football players who annually practice for one afternoon at the local municipal stadium.  Personally, I think this sport is over emphasized, over indulged, and certainly over financed in this state.  Despite my best efforts at dissuading him, he has become one of the pigskin pack.

He quickly changed into his University of Alabama jersey and his new SEC ball cap. As one of the assimilated, ya’ gotta dress the part.  Hoping to snag a player’s autograph, he was careful to take along a black Sharpie marker as well as his book, The Crimson Tide, autographed by author Winston Groom (of Forrest Gump fame).  As the dark skies were threatening rain and since this excursion would probably last at least an hour, I brought along the important stuff: an umbrella, a yellow rain slicker, and a Diet Coke.

“We can only stay for an hour,” I warned as we parked and headed to the stadium entrance.  On Monday I only have a two hour window, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m., to pick up my Produce Club groceries at our downtown market.   Of course, I could pick them up the next day, but since they’re fresh from the farm, many items harvested that day, I try to make the special effort to pick them up on Monday.  Waiting until Tuesday would mean waiting until after work and missing the just-picked freshness of the greens and not having some new surprise ingredients for my Meatless Monday dinner.  I calculated that if we could leave the football event by 4:30, I could get home in time to grab my grocery bags, pedal over to the market, and gather my groceries before five o’clock.  And if the thunderstorms would just hold off.  I’ve not tried the alternative transportation-in-the-rain dance yet and didn’t know how much that would delay my commute.

After 30 minutes in the bleachers watching the players’ light practice, the NFL scouting game, and the media hoopla, the 12-year-old headed down to the chain-link fence surrounding the field.  He was positioning himself to snag an autograph from one of the Alabama players  Not many of the players, however, were playing the fan game.  Buses to load.  Schedules to keep.  But positioning, preparation, and patience paid off for the young fan.  As he waited and waited, and as my window for bicycle pick up of the Monday groceries was closing, the celebrity coach, Nick Saban, made his way past my son’s spot on the fence.  He stopped and granted an autograph to my little football fella.   Oh, the excitement of the 12-year-old.  “Tickled to death,” as my Granny would say, to get this National Championship winning coach’s autograph.   And me too.  I forgot all about the clock. Forgot all about the groceries.  We enjoyed excited chatter as we drove home and, of course, took pictures to send to all the family.

Oh… and the Bicycle Diet was not a bust.  The rain held, and because the Produce Club pickup is just a 5 minute bicycle ride from my house, I got to the market just under the 2 minute warning.  I loaded my bike baskets with lots of great goods and cycled home still wearing my bright yellow rain slicker.

Dinner fare, in honor of our afternoon celebrity encounter,  included:

Roasted “Crimson Red” Beets on a Saban Salad

“Turf Greens” with Pine Nuts

and a

Rustic “Roll Tide” Loaf with Farmer’s Cheese


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