As I celebrated another birthday, I couldn’t help1 reflecting on2 how one’s attitude3 changes toward his/her birthday over the years.  I know mine certainly has.4  When I was young and growing up in the agricultural5 state of Illinois my mid-August birthday always coincided6 with the Illinois State Fair7, held in the capital city8 of Springfield, just an hour’s drive from my home town.  My grandparents always enjoyed going to the state fair and so did I.  What made it special for me was the big picnic lunch9 that my grandmother packed, including a rich chocolate cake with candles10 on it. 


When we arrived at the fair, we would head for11 the animal barns12, my grandfather’s favorite place to go, and then to the needlework13 and food contest14 area, my grandmother’s favorite.  As a birthday present, my grandparents always let me ride on some of the carnival rides15, just as long as they weren’t the dangerous16 ones.  Later on in the day, after our delicious17 picnic lunch, I would sleep in the back seat of the car until we reached home.  Those celebrations certainly were special.


As I grew older, I would want to be with my friends on my birthday.  I know that my grandparents were disappointed18 that our annual trip to the fair no longer held the charm19 it once did, but that is a case of hindsight20 now.


Friends and family still are the center of birthdays for me.  This year Don was away in the state of West Virginia attending a mushroom meeting on my birthday, so my daughter Kim invited me to go shopping and to dinner with her in Des Moines.  We spent most of our time in a large book store, browsing21 through books, a real joy for both of us.  I had been given a gift certificate22 for purchasing books at that book store, and I had a whole list of books I was interested in.  It was fun to browse, pick out a few books, and then sit in the coffee bar23 with Kim as we both decided which books we should get.  bought a new one, THE SILK ROAD IN CHINA24 and one about the Navajo Indian code talkers25 and how they functioned during WWII.  After we bought our books, we met some of Kim’s friends at a seafood restaurant, and I had their delicious clam strips26 and clam chowder27 (soup).  I certainly didn’t want or need birthday cake after that rich meal.


Monday son Jim came to have lunch with us.  He also gave me a gift certificate for the book store.  Now I have a good excuse28 to go there again soon.  Last night my friend Barb invited us over for dinner as a “late” celebration, she said.  Knowing how much I like soups and salads of all sorts, that is what she served.  Again, I didn’t need a cake!


I am happy to still have birthdays, of course, but best of all is that I have good friends and a great family to celebrate them with.  Right?



1. couldnt help (reflecting on ): 不禁(想到……)

2. reflecting on: thinking about

3. attitude: way of thinking about something; a feeling or emotion about a fact (看法,态度)

4. I know mine certainly has: I know my attitude certainly has changed.

5. agricultural: having to do with farming (农业的).  Illinois is a state with much rich farmland.

6. coincided: occurred at the same time (同时发生,巧合)

7. Illinois State Fair: name of large annual basically agricultural exhibits along with recreation and food booth held in most agricultural states in the U.S. (伊利诺斯州集市,美国大多数的农业州都会举行每年一次的集市,以农商品为主,还有娱乐活动和吃食摊点等).

8. held in the capital city: 在(该州的)首府举行

9. picnic lunch: 作为中饭的野餐

10. candles:蜡烛

11. head for : walk toward (a place) (向……走去)

12. animal barns: large barns where horses, cows, pigs and sheep are exhibited (展出马,牛,猪,羊的大型牲口棚). 

13. needlework: handwork done with needles of several types (用各种针线缝制的东西). 

14. food contest:(进入集市的各种)食品竞赛 

15. carnival rides: various types of entertainment equipment such as bumper cars, ferris wheels, merry-go.-rounds, etc. (游艺场各种供娱乐的设施,如碰碰车,大型转轮,旋转木马等) 

16. dangerous: capable of causing injury or damage to a person (危险的)

17. delicious: 美味的

18. disappointed: saddened or regretful (失望)

19. charm: attractiveness or appeal (魅力,诱人之处)

20. hindsight: Perception of the nature of an event after it has happened (事后认识,事后的聪明)

21. browsing: slowly looking at books (浏览,随便翻阅)

22. gift certificate: a card or a piece of paper which can be exchanged in a shop for goods of the value that is printed on it (礼卷)

23. coffee bar: usually a small restaurant specializing in coffee and other soft drinks along with sandwiches and desserts

24. SILK ROAD IN CHINA (中国丝绸之路): a book written about the road taken by silk merchants carrying their merchandise to the Middle East and exchanging it for Middle Eastern products, particularly spices and technology.

25. NAVAJO INDIAN CODE TALKERS (纳瓦霍印第安语密码): a book about American Indian language being used during WWII to confuse the intelligence operations of the Axis nations. 

26. clam strips: small pieces of the flesh from clams, usually deep fried in oil (蛤蜊肉)

27. clam chowder: a thick soup prepared with clams cooked with milk or cream (蛤蜊浓汤).

28. excuse: a reason which may or may not be real ( 理由,借口).

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