I claim full responsibility for the typographical errors in my last week’s column. My handwriting could use some improvement. When I first began writing for the paper almost three years ago I used a typewriter. It finally gave out and I was unable to purchase new ribbon. Now, I know I should use a computer but honestly, I just plain refuse. About a year ago, I began handwriting, and Lauren from the Gazette staff is kind to collect it from my kitchen counter weekly. I recently have switched from ballpoint pen to an American made Ticonderoga number two pencil. My daughter gifted me with an old-fashioned wall sharpener, so I am good to go. If only the mind holds out.
I was thinking about penmanship class in 1954. The teacher was Miss Field at Earl J. Hyatt Elementary School in Rew, Pa. It is hard to say how old she was. To me she was ancient but could have been in her forties or fifties. She used to stroll up and down the rows of us students, ruler in hand. She would smack our little fingers if we were not holding the pencil properly. In those days we never reported to our dear families, as teachers, doctors, presidents and adults in general were always right. So much for the good old days. I still resist dotting my i’s.
On Christmas morning my first sight outside was my crab apple tree. It has a single strand of colored lights and is still loaded with tiny fruits. The tree was alive with birds having their breakfast on the fruits. I looked up the cedar waxwing in the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds (eastern region) and found that they mostly travel in huge flocks. They exploit crops of berries and vanish when the crop is exhausted. True — they ate every small apple on Christmas Day and left the snow covered with their hot pink little poo. Haven’t seen them since!
Last Saturday my friend, Marie, and I made a foray into our big garden. It was still covered with a foot of extremely wet snow, but that didn’t stop us: First of all, we were happy to be away from the hustle of Christmas and enjoyed some memories of last summer. There were several rows of cornstalks left standing which were rustling in the wind. Our first task was to uncover dozens of Leyland Cypress trees. They were mere babes and were completely lying down under large amounts of snow. To their credit, they popped right up when freed. Next we uncovered a wide row of beets. Luckily I had covered them a few weeks back with flakes of hay. The ground was not at all frozen and we harvested. Some were miniscule but we took all of them nevertheless. Later we poured them onto a picnic table and pretended we were culling scallops. We managed to get a couple of meals for each of our families. People either love or hate beets. The haters call them purple dirt.
We also pulled several large leeks. They are wonderful. I had started them from seed last February. The variety was large American Flag. I braised them in olive oil and a touch of balsamic vinegar. We were unable to pick carrots as our memories failed us as to their exact location. After this week’s rain and warm temperatures we should be able to spot them. Will I remember to mark the rows next year? Probably not.
A big thank-you to Wendy Andrews who located this photograph from the August 1944 Vineyard Gazette. As you can see, it is a beautiful pristine shot of Lake Tashmoo without the willow trees. As you know, it is my local battle. The caption above reads “No Scottish Loch Surpasses Tashmoo in Beauty of Contour, Color and Surrounding.” The small article with the photo reads: “Many think the sight of Tashmoo — Indian shorthand for ‘There is here a great stream of water’ — the fairest view the Island boasts. It lies in the midst of rich meadow land and thrusts almost into the salt water of Vineyard Sound.”
A petition to be signed can be found at the Scottish Bakehouse.
A Happy New Year to all, and in the words of Charles Dickens, God bless us — every one!