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Another April 1 has come and gone.

Or, as it is known, April Fools' Day.

It seems as people get older, their April Fools' Day jokes tend to get a little more sophisticated and clever than the old 'loosen the top of the salt shaker' gag.

Even businesses get in on the fun. About a decade ago Burger King ran an April 1 commercial for a 'left-handed Whopper' that would allow the burger's juices and sauces to "drip out the correct side" for left-handed people. It was later reported customers had asked for the left-handed burgers, while others made sure their order only included the right-handed Whoppers.

This year on April Fools' Day, Google had a great prank on their website. Instead of the familiar Google logo, the website featured the word 'Topeka.' Turns out Topeka, Kansas - in hope of obtaining a new type of fiber optic line Google is going to install in an American city for a pilot program - had recently, and temporarily, changed its name to 'Google, Kansas,' and the Internet giant had reciprocated.

My wife, Donnelle, couldn't wait to suck me in, asking me if I had heard the startling news about Google as she directed me to their website.

"They changed their name," she pointed out, waiting for my response.

She loves it when she gets a reaction.

Which brings me to what is probably the best April Fools prank I've ever had played on me.

I enjoy gardening, and look forward to spring so I can plant vegetables. One particular spring a few years back I had spread a new type of manure and dirt-based fertilizer in my garden prior to planting, but had run a little short as I approached the edge of the area near the fence.

Donnelle helped me plant a row of seedling tomato plants, and commented about possibly planting a row in the area along the fence where I had not spread the fertilizer.

"They won't grow as well," I said with authority. "But go ahead and we'll see how they do."

I was working investigations at the time, and I should have had a clue as to her mischievousness when she called me at work one afternoon a few days later.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize it was April 1.

"You were right about that dirt," she said. "Those plants near the fence just aren't doing as well."

Donnelle rarely called me at work, as she knew I was usually juggling a number of cases, and never just to chat. We talked for a moment, and then I had to go.

When I arrived home that evening, she and our kids led me out to the backyard, telling me I might be surprised at how quickly some of the tomato plants had grown.

When I saw the plants, I think my jaw hit the ground.

While the tomato plants along the fence were still about the same size as they had been when we planted them a few days earlier, the other row contained plants that had more than tripled in size.

I don't allow my world to be jolted too often. I'm rarely surprised by anything I encounter, and usually even guess the ending of a movie more often than not.

But when I saw those tomato plants, I was floored.

As Donnelle told it later, she could see me trying to work out in my head how a few tomato plants had grown about a foot in a period of a couple days.

I looked at the plants, wondering if it was a water issue, trying to come to a conclusion why - and how - they could have grown so rapidly. I consider myself an extremely rational and pragmatic person, but I was absolutely stumped.

I guess it showed on my face, as Donnelle and the kids began laughing.

"April Fools!" they shouted.

It turned out that the day after we planted the vegetable garden, Donnelle went back to the nursery and purchased much larger tomato plants. She kept them with our neighbor, Kathy, until April 1 rolled around, when she replaced the smaller plants with the bigger tomato plants.

I have to start paying more attention to the calendar. And my garden. But it was nice to have tomatoes earlier than usual that year ...

Craig Macho is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.