SPELLING BEE Time
BY BEA WESTERBERG
“Oh dear, I sure hope that the Groundhog is loved more than one day in a year”. Unknown Here we are in February with lots of new “snow mountains” and nippy winds to move us along. Most of us have probably mastered the penguin walk and some of us may have lost a few pair of gloves by this time. The one good thing is that gloves for sale have not been replaced by swimsuits. That might not be true in a few weeks, so be careful of glove placement or stock up your supply.
February has a lot of mixed feelings for people. It can be thought of as the shortest month of the year and then we can have one more day every 4th year and call it leap year. We can get some mighty cold weather this month and that usually covers up the fact that the days are getting longer. We really don’t want to hear one more mention of those trips people are making to warm places in the world. Of course it’s a different feeling if it is a trip that we are taking ourselves. (Remember to be kind about it with your friends and neighbors who will be staying behind). We may have moved that hunk of paper we received from our tax preparer between Christmas and New Years a few times and are reminded we are getting closer to having to pull it all together and get it done. Even the thought of the major event of the month, Valentine’s Day, has some of us on the nervous side.
A lot of us were reminded of Valentine’s Day about the day after Christmas at shopping places. All the Christmas stuff that was left had been rounded up and put in piles with the 50 percent off signs. The regular shelves took on a pink/red look and I doubt that much Valentine’s Day shopping took place. It seemed like it was too far in the future to even think about it, much less shop and have space to put all the purchases. There is a good chance that if it was candy products, I would have done some major sampling by now! You only give the very best!
The Valentine history is long and complex and has some truly bad stories that we would not want to be celebrating. It is a combination of Christian and Roman traditions. It is said that the Catholic church recognizes 3 different martyred people named Valentine. The Romans had Lupercalia as their time to honor the god of agriculture and also a time to celebrate fertility. These two different backgrounds became blended together to make it more acceptable for a bigger group of people. By the time of the middle ages, Valentine’s Day celebrations were the most popular event in mid February in England and France. The first Valentine card is traced back to 1415. I did not find information as to how they celebrated this event but it was not until the 1800’s that a guy named Cadbury figured out how to break down the cocao pods to make what he called an “eating chocolate”. He also designed some very fancy boxes to put them in. To this very day, we can see the results of his ideas. It was a springboard for a whole new big chocolate industry. I will check if I can find out about flower history and also come up with ideas for Valentine’s food and gifts for next week’s writing.
For those of us who will be gardening this spring/summer, these cold winter nights are ideal times to be studying seed catalogs. You can order online or I think your local library may have some for check out.
There is a vast amount of information in the catalogs. They will tell you what is new in the growing world and what Zone they will grow in. In the Hastings area we are Zone 4b so if you are shopping for perennials or fruit trees, that is vital information. Vegetable gardeners also have to be aware of how many days it takes for a product to be fully grown. Most of this time is marked from the time you actually put out a seedling plant. You will especially notice that in tomatoes. The smaller, early tomatoes are listed as “60 day” tomatoes. The bigger tomatoes are usually around the 80 plus day mark. Once you start seeing the 90 to 100 day plus time period, know that Minnesota weather is not on your side for that product. Value those warm inside nights and dream of both Valentine’s and spring gardening. Hot chocolate warms the fingers and the heart! Bea Westerberg [email protected]