Berry Interesting

A Fool In NH Column Heading


I’m sure I’ll take some grief for this, but if I don’t say something, who will?
Back about ten years ago I took a lot of heat for questioning the state legislature in quickly passing a bill to make our state fruit the pumpkin (yes, the pumpkin). The idea was presented to them by a group of elementary school students from Harrisville, New Hampshire.
I wasn’t questioning whether or not the pumpkin should be the state fruit. I was questioning how easily the legislators passed the law. The whole idea behind the kids submitting the idea in the first place was to learn how the legislative process worked. A few legislators who publicly questioned whether or not the pumpkin should be the state fruit were chastised on the floor of the house as well as in the media for being shallow to the children’s feelings after all the work they did in promoting the pumpkin.
I thought that arguing against the bill was a perfect example of how the legislative process is supposed to work and that by having a fight over what the state fruit should be would teach a more valuable civics lesson to the kids than just passing the bill with no questions so as not to hurt any feelings.

I found myself also grouped with those who were being insensitive to the feelings of the children.
Not really fair.
This week I am here to defend the pumpkin. It has been officially designated as our state fruit and I am fine with that. I’m not one to make a stink if things don’t go the way I wanted (there’s too much of that going on already).
It is new legislation introduced this year that got me thinking.
Now it is being considered, if not already decided as I write this, to make the blackberry the state berry.
Once again this has been introduced by a group of school kids who want to learn how a bill becomes law (or a state thing) and I salute them for spending time on this instead of spending endless hours on their computers playing games.
My problem is that the berry is a fruit so, technically, this would be designating another state fruit.
I am afraid that designating the blackberry as the state berry will open up a whole can of worms (my choice for official state invertebrate) and set off a flurry of subcategories for our already established state things.
After all, there were some who lobbied for the apple to be the state fruit who could now enter the game once again by lobbying for the state apple, maybe the Cortland or the Macintosh or others. It would be a legislative battle. Our state dog is the Chinook, but maybe we can just have many state dogs based on their class like at the Westminster Dog Show. There could be the state working class group, the state hound, the state terrier, etc, etc.
The potato is the state vegetable (yes, the potato), but who is to stop the state lettuce (another vegetable) from being introduced and lobbied for?
What about the State sport? I know my colleague Amy Patenaude was instrumental in having skiing designated as such when she was a state senator. What would happen if we had an official state summer sport, indoor sport, sport played with a net, sport played on a field, etc, etc?
I think you might see where I am going with this. The list goes on and on.
There could be entire legislative sessions filled with nothing but deciding what the state something or others should be within a never ending series of sub categories. It could become so time consuming that other bills might not ever be voted on.
Hmmm…maybe not such a bad idea after all.
I only write this column to bring this issue to our legislators’ attention. If they want to make the blackberry the state berry, go for it. The kids did work hard on it. Just remember that you will be setting a precedent and opening the door to an avalanche of subcategories of official state things. It would only be fair.
And, no matter what decision is made by our wise legislators, let’s not forget that the pumpkin did beat other fruits to the punch due to the perseverance and hard work of some other dedicated school kids not that long ago. If a new fruit is to be introduced as a state thing, then let’s not let the work of those kids from Harrisville be forgotten and swept under the rug. (By the way, I would choose smoke grey indoor/outdoor as the official state rug if it were up to me.)