During a trip to the Adirondacks, I saw bags of balsam fir needles being hawked in gift shops. For $7 to $10, you could haul home a memory of a pine-scented forest.
"I can't believe that someone would be silly enough to buy this," scoffed the native New Yorker with me. I immediately hid the pouch in my hand. "I mean, you can go outside and scoop these up from under a tree if you want to, but why?" he asked.
That reminded me of a woman I met in western Kansas who sold $30,000 worth of tumbleweeds one year through her online business. She "harvests" the prickly weeds from her yard, where they blow in unwanted, stuffs them in boxes, and sells them around the world.
I told the New Yorker about the tumbleweed lady. He immediately took down her website address so he could buy a $15 medium-sized weed to coordinate with his Southwestern decor.
Once again I've failed to exploit - I mean, appreciate - the souvenirs right under my own nose. It's high time I looked at my Ozarks surroundings with a fresh eye - a greedy eye. There must be something flourishing in my own backyard that someone on the East or West Coast is itching to buy:
Ugly orange ditch rocks. They're homely foot-stabbers to me, but maybe someone who is familiar only with living on white-chiffon-sand beaches could see their beauty. I could package them in gunnysacks to add to their down-home charm.
Brown sticks. Our yard is choked with them, and they're a lawn-mowing and raking hazard.
I'm looking at them in a new light, however. People on the treeless plains who are forced to build fence posts with rock piles might find these brittle brown items "special." Plus, they're good for kindling. They could be bundled with gingham ribbon.
One rusted snow shovel with splintered handle. I started to toss it, but then realized that Floridians and other Southerners usually don't need snow or snow shovels. This could be "country-quaint" and a hot item in the right shopping venue.
Murky pond water. I'm surrounded by chocolate-colored farm ponds with accompanying cows in the Ozarks, but that's not the case everywhere. The brown water could be bottled and sold as "pure pond water."
And speaking of cows, their all-natural droppings certainly are another possibility. Some big-city folks who've never been within sniffing distance of a cow are sure to pay good money for a stack of purty dried patties.
I suspect that my yard is ripe with souvenirs to be savored year-round by outsiders who need a memory - scented or otherwise - of the Ozarks. I'm ready to harvest if there are any takers out there.
Meanwhile, here in my Missouri kitchen, I'm savoring a $7 whiff of the pine-scented Adirondacks.