There's weirdness afoot. And, of course, I keep walking smack dab into the middle of it.
Hungry and headed for lunch at my favorite downtown eatery Monday, I slipped down an alley to shorten my path.
My mind was wandering, wondering what form of deliciousness awaited at the Downtown Market Co., when I spied the mystery fruit. On the edge of a large concrete planter sat a little, green lime — perfectly balanced on its bottom atop a perfectly ripe pineapple.
My reporter instincts kicked in immediately. The Fundamental Five began rattling my brain box: Who? What? When? Where? Why?
Three of the Ws had at least partial answers. But "who" was still a mystery. And "why" was screaming for a response.
I peered left and right in the alley. Not a soul in sight. Looked up and down for more clues. A note maybe. Nada.
What was the potential significance of the tropical totem? Was it a vegan hobo sign? An invite to a private cocktail party? Clearly it wasn't just a random fruiting.
The display had me so bemused I felt the need to snap a photo before walking on.
"Is there some foodie event going on I don't know about?" I asked, showing my picture to the cooks. Nope. Nora and Brian were as stymied as I.
Hmm. Shrugging, I did what I always do these days when life hands me conundrums. I posted the problem on Facebook, ate a chocolate cookie and tried to let it go.
Unfortunately, my noodle is not good at letting things go until it has what it believes to be a satisfactory answer. I'm hard-wired that way. Always have been. Just ask any teacher who ever wanted to duct-tape my eager, little, ever-waving hand to my desk. "But! But! But! What about ... ?"
On my way back to the newsroom, I was still muddling over the significance of the stacked alley fruit when I ran into yet more comestible weirdness.
On Central, catty-corner from the alley, perched on a street-side window ledge, was an unopened can of ice-cold soda and an untouched hot sandwich nestled on a red-and-white checkered paper deli tray. The sammie looked remarkably like the pulled pork one I'd just consumed. There was even dessert: a still-frozen ice cream cup; a little wooden spoon standing upright amidst strawberry swirls.
Is someone even more absentminded than yours truly? Who leaves a full lunch sitting on a window ledge? I looked up and down Central for the lunch's likely owner. But no one looked hungry.
Hmm. Was the lunch connected to the fruit? Was this part of a greater philanthropic endeavor? I snapped another photo. At this point, I smelled a possible story. Or at least a column. Mostly I just wanted answers.
I darted across the busy street and headed back down the aforementioned alley. Then stopped dead in my tracks. I'd been gone for only about 30 minutes. But the pineapple had vanished. The lime was solo on the planter's cement edge. The citrus was on its side and appeared exhausted. There were two cigarette butts nearby.
A deceased sparrow lay on the ground adjacent to this unseemly scene. I'm betting Jack Sparrow either saw too much or asked one too many questions. But I refused to be scared off. On Wednesday, I grilled the local mailman. Richard, too, had spied the alleyway fruit. But he came up empty on the ledge-side lunch.
Meanwhile, the food mysteries continue. On Thursday, I spied a fresh cup of bean juice abandoned on the sidewalk along my luncheon pathway. A barrista's steaming-milk artistry still swirled inside the fancy coffee cup. Again, no one was around.
I need a Downtown Deepthroat. We can meet in the alleyway. Use the code phrase: "The pluot has not yet plopped."
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email email@example.com.