Wildflowers

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On Saturday, I went to a “Wildflower Festival” at a park. It’s a really big park. It’s not a national park like Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, and it’s not a state park, but it’s bigger than a city park. It’s called a “regional park.” Spring is the best time for wildflowers, and I wanted to see some. There were a lot of activities at the festival. In the main area, there were some tents where people could learn about nature. Children could play games and make things. From that area, people could go on hikes with park guides.

Wildflowers
Wildflowers

I saw a lot of wildflowers on the hike! The orange one is California’s “state flower,” the California poppy.

Our guide showing us something
Our guide showing us something

A lot of people, including families and older people, went on our hike. I heard a lot of different languages being spoken. It was nice! Our guide was very friendly. She knew a lot about flowers and nature. She showed us a lot of flowers and told us how the flowers worked. It was really interesting. The hike lasted about 90 minutes. I was tired at the end, but happy.

Can you see the birds?
Can you see the birds?

This park is really green and has a lot of hills. (This picture is just a small part of the park.) If you’re in good shape, you can see some wonderful views. I was a little sick last year, so I’m kind of out of shape right now. However, I hiked for about 2.5 hours altogether. (Go me!) After I was done, I went back to the main area and sat down. I watched a band play American, Scottish, and French-Canadian folk music. It was fun! When my feet stopped hurting, I walked to my car and drove home.

Are there any places to go hiking near where you live? Do you like to go hiking?



Notes

“Wildflowers” are flowers that grow naturally. “Wild” means natural and not controlled by humans.

A “region” (n.) is a big area. It might include several places. For example, the Tohoku 東北 region of Japan includes six prefectures. I guess regional parks are called “regional” (adj.) because they include different cities and counties, but they’re not state parks.

“Guide” can be a noun or a verb. When it’s a person noun, it means someone who shows or explains things to other people. For example, a tour guide leads a group of people who are traveling, and tells them about what they are seeing.

“In good shape” is an idiom. It doesn’t mean “a nice body.” It means that you are healthy, so you have enough energy for things like hiking, walking a long way, carrying heavy things, etc. You can also just say “in shape.” (Sometimes we use it to mean that a thing is ready or working properly, too.) The opposite is “out of shape.” People often say “I’m out of shape!” when they get tired too quickly. (We don’t usually use this to say that a thing is not working correctly, though.)

“Go [x]!” To cheer for somebody, you can say “Go [name]!” or even “Go you!” to a friend. This is like “Fighting!” in Korean, and so on. And yes, people sometimes say or write “Today I studied Japanese for four hours! Go me!” or “I got 100% on my quiz! I was so surprised! Go me!” This is very casual and sounds like something a younger person would say. In this case, it’s a combination of encouragement (supporting someone to continue doing something) and praise/congratulations (telling someone they did a good job). When you shout “Go, team!” at a baseball game, then it might be just encouragement if they haven’t done anything yet.

If you have a question about something that I didn’t explain, please comment!

Backyard Chickens

On Tuesday, my husband and I went to see one of our friends. She lives in a nearby city. Even though she lives in town, my friend has chickens.

My friend’s chickens live next to her house. There are two hens (female chickens) and one rooster (male chicken). Right now, she also has some chicks (baby chickens). They are so cute! They like to move around a lot, so it was hard to take a picture of them.

Fuzzy little chicks!
Fuzzy little chicks!

I got to hold one little chick in my hand. It was so cute and small.

My friend gave us four eggs. Two of the eggs were a soft blue-green color, and two were brown. Some of these chickens are a type that comes from South America. This type of chicken lays bluish (kind of blue) eggs. We have already eaten the eggs, and they were really delicious. The yolks were a deep orange color. The color was much stronger than supermarket eggs.

Chickens who eat and live naturally are able to lay eggs with a deeper color. Most people think these natural eggs are also more nutritious and have a stronger flavor. That’s one reason why “backyard chickens” have become popular recently. (There’s even a magazine!)

Where do you get your eggs?
In a supermarket? At a small grocery store? At a farmers’ market? From your own chickens?



Notes
“got to hold”: The reason I wrote “I got to hold” is to add the meaning of “my friend let me” — “I was able to” — “I did something fun and special.” It means I had a chance to do something or an opportunity to do something, and I did it. This verb pattern is very common in English, so watch for it.

Fuzzy” is an adjective. One meaning is “like short hair or fur.” Yarn can be fuzzy. Flowers can be fuzzy. (Click for Flickr photos.)

Lay” is the verb that we use when a chicken makes an egg. For example, “Our chickens laid six eggs yesterday.” “How many eggs will your hens lay this week?”

Nutritious” is an adjective that means “full of the things you need to be healthy.” It doesn’t mean the same thing as “healthy,” because “healthy” is about the total healthfulness of the food (nutrition + calories + fat, etc.). For example, “Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice.” “A fruit tart is more nutritious than a chocolate bar, but neither one is very healthy.”

Farmers’ Market

This is the first post of the new Readable Blog! I’m still working on the blog design, but from now on I will mostly be writing easy-to-read posts so that you can get English-reading practice. If my posts are too hard, too easy, too long, too boring, or or if it’s good and interesting, please tell me.

By the way, you can click on the pictures to see a bigger version.


People shopping under the tents for nuts and more
People shopping under the tents for nuts and more


I live in California, near San Francisco and Silicon Valley. In many parts of the US, people buy their fruits and vegetables at grocery stores. This stuff is often very old because it was grown far away, in another state or even another country, and then taken to the grocery store. Recently, it’s become popular to try to buy food that was grown closer to where you live. People think it tastes better because it’s fresher. (I think it does.) They also think that this is better for the environment, because the food did not have to be driven for thousands of miles. Because most of the US has a cold winter, most places can’t have farmers’ markets all year. But California doesn’t get very cold, so our farmers’ markets are open all year! There are about four markets very close to me, and more in other towns near here.

Each seller’s place is called a booth or a stall. Each stall has one or more tents and one or more tables. Because of the tents, we can still go shopping when it rains. Not as many people go shopping when it rains, but it’s still crowded then! Some of the stalls that sell hot food don’t come then. I think their electrical equipment isn’t safe in the rain.


Farmers' market van
Farmers' market van



One nice thing about shopping here is that we can ask questions. The farmers can tell you how they grow their fruits and vegetables, so you feel safe. A lot of the things sold here, including eggs and sausage, are organic, or they use very few chemicals.


Colorful fruit
Colorful fruit


My husband likes citrus (oranges, lemons, grapefruit, etc.), and we can buy a lot of it during the winter. Some sellers have special kinds that taste and look really interesting. They can tell you all about each type, how to cook it, etc. We can also buy fresh strawberries almost all year, although they’re best in the summer.


Tasty-looking potatoes and onions
Tasty-looking potatoes and onions

Potatoes and onions–looks like stew!


A pile of carrots and other vegetables
A pile of carrots and other vegetables

Sometimes I don’t know what I want to cook until I come to the market and see what they have.


Fat daikon
Fat daikon

Daikon is just one of the many Asian fruits and vegetables at our market. We have lots of things that are originally from India, China, Japan, and so on. Many of the shoppers and sellers speak languages in addition to English. (In fact, some of the sellers speak English and Spanish and enough Mandarin to sell their vegetables!) It’s pretty fun to try new things.


Fresh mushrooms
Fresh mushrooms

I haven’t tried buying mushrooms here yet, but I want to. They’re much cheaper than the mushrooms at the supermarket. Actually, many of the farmers’ market items are cheaper than at the supermarket, even though many Americans think that farmers’ markets are just for rich people.


Bouquets of flowers for sale
Bouquets of flowers for sale

I’ve never bought flowers here, but they look so pretty, don’t they? I didn’t take pictures of the sellers who sell bread, pies, sausage, fresh fish, eggs, hot food, etc., so maybe I’ll take photos again sometime!

We usually buy bread, vegetables, cooking ingredients like garlic, and fruit. In the winter we buy more vegetables like carrots and potatoes, but in the spring we buy asparagus, and in the summer we get tomatoes. In the winter, the main fruits that we buy are apples and citrus, but in the summer there’s a lot to choose from–peaches, all kinds of melons, and so on.

Of course, outdoor markets are standard in a lot of the world. How about where you live? Where do you buy fresh fruit and fresh vegetables? What else can you buy there?

Grammar note: “Fruit” is usually non-countable (I like to eat fruit). However, when we use it to mean “types of fruit” or “kinds of fruit, we can say “fruits.” So —
1. A lot of different kinds of fruit are sold at the farmers’ market.
2. A lot of different fruits are sold at the farmers’ markets.

If you have questions, please leave a comment!

Thank you!

I got some answers from you here and on Twitter. (If you are an English learner, you can follow me on Twitter at readable. If you’re an English teacher, you can follow me at talkclouds. Of course, if you are both, you can follow both!)

Thank you for telling me what you think. It sounds like many people are interested in a blog about daily life and other topics. It sounds like you’ll be happy to have something that’s easy to read in English. I would like to do that for you, so I’ll be changing this blog to be mostly an easy English journal.

However, I also want to change the design. So please wait while I fix it. It might look strange while I get it ready. Don’t be surprised if it changes several times!