Christmas week produced some beautiful weather. The sun was almost noticeably warmer. Back in the 1970s when the children were small, we made a cassette tape on Christmas morning. We opened the door and recorded the sound of rain. The reason for this seemingly random act was how unusual it was at that time to be warm enough on Christmas for it to rain. Now there is nothing notable about a completely mild December and/or an entire winter for that matter.

Violet and I tackled a couple of flower beds last week. They had yet to be cut back, raked or tended at all. We found weeds growing happily and the buds of both white and pink Hellebores. We would not have seen them if the leaves and debris remained. Then wonder of wonders, a large section had snowdrops about to bloom. This just sounds wrong but I guess it is the new normal.

Several establishments around town are sporting interesting seasonal boxes and pots. The ornamental cabbages alongside the Christmas greens are particularly nice.

A few columns ago I complained about receiving seed catalogs before Thanksgiving. In years past, they never arrived until after Christmas into the new year.

On Thursday the 26th my mailbox was so stuffed with them that I spent some time worrying them free. I had a moment of gratitude, however. My mailbox is located at chest level so I didn’t need to wallow around on the post office floor trying to remove them from the lower boxes.

One of the catalogs that arrived that day was R.H. Shumway. They are celebrating their 150th anniversary this year.

It’s written on newsprint and has some interesting old varieties. I tried to control myself but could not resist sitting down with tea and thumbing through it. Good thing too, as I’m desperate for material this week. The first several pages are devoted to beans. I became a big fan of drying my own beans this past summer and now want to try several different varieties. One big hit with my family was the Scarlett Runner. I always grew it as an ornamental but never appreciated it for a meal. For starters the beans are very large, so not too many are needed in a dish. They are a pretty maroon and black bean and quite tasty.

Another pole bean worth trying is Lazy Housewife. It’s an heirloom from the 1800s and one of the first to be completely stringless and therefore little work or time is involved in preparation. I hope in my next life to get a job naming plants or even paint.

Here and there throughout the publication, there are advertisements for old-fashioned garden implements. There are seeders, high-wheel cultivators, herb mills and scarecrows.

I’ve said it many times. This is my favorite time in the garden year. It’s all hope and no disappointment. I haven’t done anything wrong yet. There are no bugs, marauding critters, runaway briers, chest-high weeds, poison ivy or sunburns.

I cannot decide whether to be amazed

or annoyed at the Republican hypocrisy once again. First, they endlessly complained that the impeachment inquiry was moving too fast. Now they say Nancy Pelosi has slowed things down by refusing to send the articles to the Senate. People, relax, they are all on Christmas break anyway.

I love the way Pelosi has firmly placed herself under Trump’s skin.

Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan challenged Pelosi’s leadership a couple of times. He and several other younger House members figured she was no longer relevant.

Now she has taken back the reins of Congress, and Representative Ryan sings her praises and says she is in a class by herself and he could not have done a better job. Kudos to him for that.

My personal Pelosi favorite was “the clap” at the state of the union. Her daughter said that’s the clap she and her siblings received when they brought their wet towels downstairs.

Happy and healthy New Year to one and all.