By LYNNE IRONS
I mentioned to my seven-year-old granddaughter, Violet, that I needed to write this column last Sunday to meet the early Christmas deadline. I told her I was at a loss for words (a rare occurrence for me). She said, “Mame, talk about gardening, canaries, the snow, Christmas, sledding, me, or how you live your life.” Honestly, the mouths of babes! I decided to take her advice and see if I could squeeze out a few paragraphs. As for gardening this week, pickings are pretty slim. That was some snow fall! It certainly brought all my appointed tasks to an abrupt end. I had a few moments of quiet about everything left unattended but then realized that at least the snow covered everything up and it could be happily ignored. The one thing I did attempt last Sunday was taking a broom to some of my favorite shrubs. They were so heavily weighed down by the wet snow that several branches snapped before I got to them.
After the heaviest winds subsided I managed to haul Violet up and down the driveway on her sled a couple of times. She was so elated about the snow that we compared it to Christmas on the happy day scale. When I was coming up in Rew, Pa., we did a good amount of sledding. Rew is the second highest point in the state. No matter which way one looked from there it was down. There were several dirt roads down through the woods used by the oil-field workers. A good day of sliding was at the most three trips down one of those roads. We rode lying down for protection and dropped more than a mile or two at a life-threatening speed. I believe one was named the suicide drop. The walk back up took over an hour. My dad and his brothers had constructed bobsleds but we children were forbidden to use them. Age and reason have taken hold of me. I no longer need that much thrill.
As far as Christmas goes, I have never been politically correct. I say and mean Merry Christmas. That Happy Holidays just doesn’t fall off the tongue for me. I am looking forward to service at the First Baptist this evening. Abigail Southard is singing Jesu Bambino, a favorite. I am pleased to be serving home-grown pork for dinner. What a good decision we made last Saturday before the blizzard to dispatch those pigs and incite them inside to the freezer for the winter. Nothing is more unpleasant than caring for them in deep snow and ice.
We ordered trees from the National Arbor Day Foundation last summer and for some crazy reason they did not arrive until last week. You don’t even want to know how many my son, Reuben, and I hauled into my new vegetable garden. We had Leyland cypress, about a foot tall, and giant sequoia at about 18 inches. They will eventually be used for screening and windbreaks. Hopefully they will get some size in a year or so. They did look healthy and were six bucks apiece. Sure beats some of those tree prices at the local nurseries.
While at the garden I piled some hay on the beets, carrots, and celeriac. Hopefully I’ll still be able to harvest if the snow ever melts. I was unhappy to discover some of the beets had been eaten by some critter. I shudder to think it may be a rat. That is my second least-favorite of all the creatures, only beaten by the loathsome raccoon.
Just think! The light has changed this week and we are heading into spring. As soon as the tree comes down I am ordering my seeds. Now, maybe, I’ll get an egg from my chickens. They refuse to lay in the dark days of December. I don’t really mind. They need the rest. I would never trick them by using a light in their coop. They are born with every egg they will ever lay and can be forced to lay with false lighting but when it’s over, it’s over. I would rather keep them a few more years; I grow fond of certain individuals.
I love all the end of year comments. This year the number one lie of the year award goes to Becky McCoy for her accusation of the Democratic health care reform bill. She said it but our friend Sarah Palin named it and put it into cyberspace — death panels. Glen Beck came in a close second. Is the prize a pair of pants on fire?
Note for Cousin Kim in Johnstown, Pa. Well, I certainly am more liberal than our current President. They call him a socialist anyway, so why doesn’t he move to the left and join some of us?