Pretzel Necklace

Rolling up the cuffs of my jeans, I unevenly attempt to avoid the mixture of mud, straw, grass, and discarded ale on the ground as it bubbles around my sandal with every step. I smile in a haze of good beer as we saunter around the park in the sometimes purposeful, and sometimes buoyant, beer fest amble.

At the 10th annual Parkville Microfest (as the banner declares), nearly 45 breweries pour tasting glasses to 3,000 attendees at the sold-out event, and the first beer festival I have attended outside of Oregon. Admission price includes entrance into a field that lines a wide Missourian river, while brewery representatives under white tents fill tasting glasses (no tasting tickets necessary here) for four hours on the overcast Saturday afternoon. Some brewery names are familiar – Deschutes, Sierra Nevada, Stone – but others are excitingly foreign – Nebraska Brewing, Cathedral Square, Flying Monkey.

The other excitingly foreign experience manifests in the form of a pretzel necklace. Reading about this in a newspaper article, I imagined a giant soft pretzel hanging like a pendant on a chain. Instead, the necklace is a thick string strung with lots and lots of hard pretzels. Both big and small. Some even interspersed with Funyuns. Leaning on my boyfriend’s kind (and heroic) sensibilities, I quickly find one around my neck after he makes a donation to the local Rugby club.

Soon, I notice patrons sporting multiple pretzel necklaces, seemingly jingling together in layers around a neck. One man complements the look with a beer koozie necklace, and one fashionable baby even sports his own necklace of Organic Fruit Os.

Genius; the pretzel necklace is. Just when you get a hunger pang you look down and see the pretzels dangling freely below your neck. Crunching off one side, the pretzel hopefully falls from the string and into your mouth, curbing hunger and facilitating the beer fest experience to continue without foreseeable obstacles.

Something so simple, so supportive, so encouraging. Something so revolutionary.

PS – At least for me.

At an un-ticketed beer fest.

Fear of the Fear

Severe weather. Isolated tornadoes. Supercell. Funnel. These are all new phrases for me. I can deal with tsunami risks (of which I have experienced two in Hawaii) and living in the Northwest I’m ok with the possibility of volcanic eruptions (once every couple hundred years, right?) but the seemingly frequent possibility of tornado sirens has me irrationally scared as I weather my first tornado season in Kansas.

April, the cruelest month, can also be one of the most extreme months for tornadoes, according to T.S. Elliott and The Weather Channel. Today, intense risk spreads across Iowa, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Right where I am in Topeka.

My new Kansan friends rally together to assuage my fears with a few plans as I wait for the sirens to blare:

1) Get a few beers from the fridge, a tailgating chair from the closet, and sit out on the lawn until it gets really really quiet (as in all the birds have left) or until you see a Finger of God forming in some dark, low-hanging clouds. Then it’s time to go inside. (From what I gather, this is an adaptation of the truest Kansan way).

2) Grab a whiskey bottle, saunter up to the tornado, throw the bottle and give it the finger, Bill Paxton style.

3) Pry a shutter door off the closet and run into the bathtub and put the shutter door on top of the tub so things don’t fall on you. Not sure what keeps you from blowing away though.

4) Belt yourself to the bathroom sink pipes, but not the toilet.

5) Run a few blocks (or probably a few more than that with my poor sense of direction) to friends who graciously offers the use of their basement.

6) If I do end up in Oz, I have messages to deliver to the ‘little people’ and Glenda the Good Witch (who is apparently a plotter).

Realistically, I’ll probably combine a few of the safety plans – grabbing the whiskey bottle and the closet door and a belt and hiding in the bathtub with my boyfriend’s sweetly considerate 140-pound dog belted to me.

But as evening appears, the day has only yielded a partly cloudy spring sky, budding pink flowers, and no wind. So I sit outside, open the whiskey bottle anyway, and patiently allow my gaze to fall upward.

Hmmm. This is actually pretty fun.