By LYNNE IRONS
What a rude awakening this past week. The week previous had temperatures that climbed up near 50 and this week we had a couple of single digit nights. Then there was the wind chill. I believe my folks referred to it as a pretty good bite in the air. I had noticed some crocuses emerging that are now frozen solid. I took the warm week as a sign to plant a bunch of perennial seeds on the propagating mat in the unheated hoop house. They promptly sprouted — monarda, lavender, thyme, sage, rhubarb, hyssop, oriental poppies and tons of onions and leeks. I had to remove them from the heat mat and they froze completely solid in the flats. Not to worry, though, they won’t die and will start growing when they finally thaw.
Feb. 1 marks another anniversary of my writing this column. I am headed into year four. I feel sorry for you, dear reader, as I probably will recycle and plagiarize my own self. I’m nothing if not consistent.
Heidi Feldman rang to bring my attention to the heather at David Finkelstein’s office. It is beginning to flower; talk about a welcome sight!
I have a huge pile of leaves, grass clippings, and perennial bed debris pile up outside my new garden. Thanks to David Berube for several loads of scallop shells. I am crushing and mixing them as well. This next few weeks I am driving the pile right onto the garden while it is still frozen so that I won’t get stuck once thawing begins. My new site is desperate for organic material of any sort. I don’t care that it has yet to break down. Years ago I believe the topsoil had been sold.
I have made my own bread for years. My granddaughter, Violet, is fond of it except for the crusts which I dutifully remove for her. The reason we get along so well is that I pretty much do whatever she wants. At any rate, being a waste-not type of person, I save those crusts for a few days. I cut them into crouton-sized pieces, soak in egg and cinnamon and serve them back to her as French toast. She is never the wiser and I know, smugly, that I have had the last word. In these economic times, it is handy to be resourceful.
Recently I pried some parsnips out of the frozen ground. Some were larger than baseballs. They were incredibly sweet. I mashed them with a touch of butter and completely enjoyed myself.
I am halfway through the Bill McKibben book Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. It is an oddly optimistic take on where we have come as a consumer society. He talks at length about how our insatiable quest for wealth has left us unhappy and unfulfilled. He brings up a statistic I have read elsewhere. We spend less on food than any time in history. We spend roughly 10 per cent of our income whereas our grandparents spent more than 25 per cent. The irony here is that the actual farmers make only about 10 cents on every dollar. It is the tractor makers, agro-chemical firms, seed companies, food processors and supermarkets who profit. Farmers over the age of 65 outnumber those under 35 by six to one; our federal farm program subsidizes the huge farms that grow wheat, corn, cotton, soybeans and rice; those farms are geographically concentrated in a few states which, by the way, have their own senators. Don’t even get me started on the Senate: talk about undemocratic! The good news of the book is the amazing rise in farmers markets and community supported agriculture. We can take this area of our lives back, people. I am going to commit myself to harping about living local this year. Reader, be warned!
If America is the most powerful nation in the world, why are we such fraidy cats? We have succumbed to the terrorists. We are scared to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a New York court of law like the cowardly criminal he is.
By the way, I was pleased to see our President take on a roomful of Republicans in Baltimore last week and hold his own!