Green Olives in the Red Rock Arizona Landscape

By Kimberly Burnham
April 4, 2012

Forty years later and I still can't eat green olives because of the tantalizing beauty of the mineral rich sands around the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. As a child travelling by station wagon with my family in the Four Corners: Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, we stopped one day to create a miniature landscape in a jar. You know the kind, where there is a layer of iron rich red rocky sand, then a layer of with the blue green hues of cooper, then a layer of crushed brown rock followed by a layer of quartz white sands and another layer of red sands. Before we gathered any sand, I searched a small grocery store's aisles for the perfect jar for my project. Unfortunately, it came with pimentos and green olives. I wanted my Dad to buy the jar for me, throw out the olives and hand me the empty jar. My parents, recent university graduates on a budget, agree to buy me the jar but only if I ate the olives with my cheese sandwich at lunch. I had never eaten green olives but I didn't like the smell as I opened the jar. I started to lobby, I would eat a few but not all. "Please! Please." I needed the jar, the perfect jar for my project, my beautifully layered landscape a fractal image of the larger landscape around me. In the end my father ate quite a few of the olives. I ate as many as I could, washing them down with root beer until the jar was finally empty. I have never eaten a green olive since.

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