Gardener's Grapevine 2012.01.18

Written by David Green.

Sunday afternoon is my time to “chill” with the computer and a cup of hot tea and write this article. Sometimes life just is so peaceful. I say this as I watch our big orange tabby cat, Crankshaft, chase a squirrel across the side yard.

This cat is not aware that the squirrel is not going to be all that fun if he catches him. Squirrels bite, and extremely hard; they’re not animals that enjoy being messed with. My dad’s King Charles spaniel, Cooper, is not aware of this either and he spends his days looking out the window guarding the house from the dreaded squirrels. It makes me laugh to think of the big surprise both of these animals would get if a squirrel decided to turn the table.

I was doing some reading yesterday and came across an article in Country Living about the Farmers Almanac. I remember seeing the almanac in the home of my great-grandparents, Hila and Estel Elderdge, as a young child. I never took the time to read it though. Then one Christmas I was looking for an extra gift for my uncle Dwight Houttieker and my aunt said get him the Farmers Almanac. As I stood in line to pay for it, I glanced through this small piece of literature.

It appears more magazine than book, yet reads like an informative book. It is really quite fascinating and usually the predictions are right. Apparently farmers had been following this book for years with success.

The article I read had some interesting tidbits I thought I would share: 

The almanac was first published during George Washington’s administration. It was used by Abraham Lincoln to discount a witness in an 1858 murder trial. The hole in the upper left corner of each copy was originally intended to hang the book up in the “outhouse.” During WWII the FBI discovered the Farmers Almanac in a German spy’s coat pocket. It has only had 13 editors over the years. A printing mix up in July 1816 had a snow prediction, and strangely enough it actually did snow that summer.

This little book is really fun reading for a gardener and most times it is on the money with predictions. It is available at most places selling a big selection of magazines, and is reasonably priced at $5.99.

Saturday morning I went up to our beautiful library to pick up my weekly  books on CD. I have discovered the world of interlibrary loans—I can request my favorite authors and soon they are there. What a great thing and I can use it right at home. When you drive an hour to and from work every day, recorded books are gifts straight from the big guy himself. 

While I was there I started doing some more research on when this column started and what it was like then. I liked the newspaper back then; it was so personal. Maybe because I knew a lot of the people or just the way it was put together. It seemed like a great big Christmas letter. Who married who in extreme detail; who visited who; who was in the hospital and released.

The articles written by Maude Chase really grab me. Either the lady had a mind like a computer or she kept some very detailed notebooks. I read every one of her articles and it’s why it’s taking me forever to get any information on the Grapevine article.

I did run across some interesting ads. The A&P grocery store had lettuce for ten cents a head January 7, 1960. The seed costs more than that now. Cauliflower was twenty-nine cents a head and navel oranges were forty-nine cents a dozen. Wow! How about two loaves of white bread for thirty-five cents or eggs for thirty-seven cents a dozen? Consumers Power ran an ad that said “what works 24 hours a day nonstop for twenty cents a day?” That’s how much electricity cost then. What a huge difference 52 years can make.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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