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The Food Almanac: February 12, 2013

The Food Almanac: February 12, 2013


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In The Food Almanac, Tom Fitzmorris of the online newsletter The New Orleans Menu notes food facts and sayings.

Days Until. .
Valentine's Day--2

Happy Mardi Gras!
It's Mardi Gras, a day with several eating traditions. The first is eating and drinking whatever you want. Meat and alcohol are both proscripted for the Lenten season that begins tomorrow. So we overindulge today.

The word "carnival" means "farewell to meat." My personal observance of this tradition involves eating a steak. And not just any steak, but a seriously large one of fine quality. I get it, in the company of anyone who cares to join me, at the Crescent City Steak House. I'll get there around two-thirty to begin the indulgence.

The strangest aspect of Mardi Gras is that, despite this emphasis on indulgence of the senses, it's the worst day of the year to eat a gourmet repast. If you can avoid going to a restaurant, it's a very good idea to do so.

Many other parts of the world have eating traditions on this day. The entire French-speaking world does, of course. The French connection is how Mardi Gras arrived in Louisiana. This is the day for pancakes in places that refer to this day as Shrove Tuesday--notably Liberal, Kansas. (See below.)

In Hawaii, the Portuguese presence in its past left behind a tradition of making malasada, a kind of doughnut. The Amish people in Pennsylvania Dutch country make fastnacht, a potato cake served with dark syrup today. In Iceland, they call this Sprengidagur, which translates as "Bursting Day." They they celebrate by eating peas and salted, cured meats.

Deft Dining Rule #158: If you can't let yourself have a Lucky Dog on Bourbon Street on Mardi Gras, you have no soul. If you let yourself eat a Lucky Dog any other time, you have no brain.

Food Calendar
It is International Lentil Soup Day. Lentils are an ancient part of the human diet, having been cultivated since prehistoric times in the Middle East. They have two things going for them: they're highly nutritious, and they taste great. Lentils are legumes, more closely related to chickpeas and green peas than to red beans, limas, or other New World beans. They come in many colors, from green to red to brown; the latter are most common in our part of the world.

Lentils lend themselves so well to soup that they are found in that role throughout the Mediterranean. I order lentil soup whenever we find it; after hundreds of samples, I can't say I've ever had a bad one. The best come from Italian and Lebanese restaurants. Lentils play a particularly large role in the Indian menu. Not only do they serve them as soups and as beans, but they also mill them into a flour that's made into poppadums, those big thin wafers you get at the beginning of an Indian dinner.

The unique shape of the lentil gave rise to the word "lens," with which it shares a shape. (I know that sounds unlikely, but it's true.)

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:
When the cook in the house
Prepares lentils and fish
The reviews from the spouse
Are complimentary-ish.

Edible Dictionary
beurre noir, [buhr NWA], n., French. --Literally, "black butter." When butter is heated long enough that its solids have browned, it's not far away from becoming a sauce. All it takes is a little vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, or lemon juice. This is one of the two versions of what's commonly known around New Orleans as "meuniere sauce." It's used to finish trout meuniere at Galatoire's, for instance. Beurre noir is related to beurre noisette ("hazelnut butter," for its color). They differ only in color, which may not be enough to start an argument about. (Unless a participant in the argument is a French chef.)

Gourmet Gazetteer
Butterville, New York is in the Hudson Valley about eighty-five miles north of New York City, just outside New Paltz. There does appear to be some dairying going on there, but the main action is resort hotel called the Mohonk Mountain House, which one correspondent describes as "looking like the hotel in The Shining, but a lot more fun." You can eat there.

Food Inventions
Today is the birthday, in 1791, of Peter Cooper, a man active in everything from industry to politics to education. He built the first steam locomotive in the United States, the Tom Thumb. We remember him as having patented a gelatin dessert in 1845. After the patent expired, the concept evolved into Jell-O.

Food In Science
Today in 1976, FD&C Red Dye #2 was banned from use in food in the United States, after Russian scientists found it caused cancer in lab rats. As a result, we had no red M&Ms for many years. At the local level, Barq's Red Cream Soda became colorless for a time. There was no change in the flavor, but everybody said it did taste different. That dye was replaced by others that didn't cause problems.

Food Namesakes
Actor Joe Don Baker was born today in 1936. . Sir Anthony Berry, British politician, was born today in 1925. Pro baseballer Chet Lemon stepped up to the Big Plate today in 1955. Former governor of Indiana Conrad Baker was inaugurated into life today in 1817.

Words To Eat By
"Kissing don't last: cookery do!"--George Meredith, British writer, born today in 1809.

Words To Drink By
"An American monkey after getting drunk on brandy would never touch it again, and thus is much wiser than most men."--Charles Darwin, born today in 1809.

"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; if this is tea, please bring me some coffee."--Abraham Lincoln, born today in 1809.


Garrison's weekly columns

The life of an honest satirist is a hard life and so there are few of them. We cherish our delusions — I am very fond of mine, especially the belief that I am master of my house and captain of my ship, but on Tuesday, sitting on the throne, I saw that the toilet paper dispenser was empty, no extra rolls of Scott tissue in sight, and the Chief Provisioner was off on her daily walk, and so I had to hike around the apartment, pants at half-mast, looking for the goods.

A man who doesn’t know where the toilet paper is kept in an apartment he’s lived in for many years is in a ridiculous position. He knows this as he wanders from room to room, opening cupboards, looking in drawers, hoping she does not walk in and see her husband the noted author in this delicate moment. He has lived with his head in the clouds and lost touch with the essentials of life.

The satirist H.L. Mencken would have cherished the thought. He was an old newspaperman who wrote for blue-collar freethinkers who rode the streetcars and enjoyed Henry putting down the authorities. “A judge is a law student who grades his own examination papers. A historian is an unsuccessful novelist. A philosopher is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there. A theologian is the man who finds it. A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin. An author is a man who, in the absence of toilet tissue, is forced to use his own manuscript and regrets that he wrote on such stiff paper.”

The last one is mine the others are his. I discovered Mencken in high school and admired the snap of the short sentences: he wasn’t out to persuade, only to poke you and get your attention. I was 18, the son of gentle evangelicals whom God had entrusted with truths not shared with others, a bookish boy, seriously shy but feeling my oats, and Mencken was my liquor. He wrote: “I am a newspaperman. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.”

Years later I visited his rowhouse on Hollins Street in Baltimore, nicely restored after his death in 1956, an important house in American letters and culture, a hotbed of agitation for civil rights, new writers, intellectual freedom, journalistic integrity, and that afternoon I was the only visitor. His office on the second floor was a pretty ordinary office. A battlefield is fascinating — go to Gettysburg and even with the odds and ends of monuments you can imagine what took place there — but an intellectual battlefield is found in books, not in offices.

He loved Baltimore. He was good to up-and-coming writers. He was the man who said, “Marriage is a great institution but who would want to live in an institution?” but when he was fifty he married Sara Haardt, a writer from Alabama, and loved her and was grief-stricken when she died five years later. I met my wife when I was fifty.

He was a conservative, anti-New Dealer, he loathed FDR, and he was opposed to World War II, a serious moral flaw that cast him into outer darkness, and he wrote too much, but Google bestows immortality and Mencken gave good quotes. He wrote: “The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule humanity. Idealism — not materialism — is the chief curse of the world. People get into trouble by taking their visions and hallucinations too seriously.” You can argue with that, and you should, but the clarity is admirable. This is the advantage conservatives have over us liberals. We write long windy misty twisty sentences. They write succinctly. He said, “All we know is that we are here and it is now. Other than that, all human knowledge is nonsense. Time stays, and we go. Life is a dead-end street.”

The toilet paper was in the laundry room, on top of the dryer. Now that I know that, there is no stopping me, I’m good to go on for years and years. Repeat this story to anyone and I will deny the whole thing.


February Good Oak from A Sand County Almanac

There are two spiritual dangers of not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.

To avoid the first danger, one should plant a garden, preferably where there is no grocer to confuse the issue.

To avoid the second, he should lay a split of good oak on the andirons, preferably where there is no furnace, and let it warm his shins while a February blizzard tosses the trees outside. If one has cut, split, hauled, and piled his own good oak, and let his mind work the while, he will remember much about where the heat comes from, and with a wealth of detail denied to those who spend the weekend in town astride a radiator.

* * *

The particular oak now aglow on my andirons grew on the bank of the old emigrant road where it climbs the sandhill. The stump, which I measured upon felling the tree, has a diameter of 30 inches. It shows 80 growth rings, hence the seedling from which it originated must have laid its first ring of wood in 1865, at the end of the Civil War. But I know from the history of present seedlings that no oak grows above the reach of rabbits without a decade or more of getting girdled each winter, and re-sprouting during the following summer. Indeed, it is all too clear that every surviving oak is the product of either rabbit negligence or of rabbit scarcity. Some day some patient botanist will draw a frequency curve of oak birth-years, and show that the curve humps every ten years, each hump originating from a low in the ten-year rabbit cycle. (A fauna and flora, by this very process of perpetual battle within and among species, achieve collective immortality.)

It is likely, then, that a low in rabbits occurred in the mid ‘sixties’, when my oak began to lay on animal rings, but the acorn that produced it fell during the preceding decade, when covered wagons were still passing over my road into the great Northwest. It may have been the wash and wear of the emigrant traffic that bared this roadbank, and thus enabled this particular acorn to spread its first leaves to the sun. Only one acorn in a thousand ever grew large enough to fight rabbits the rest were drowned at birth in the prairie sea.

It is a warming thought that this one wasn’t, and thus lived to garner eighty years of June sun. It is this sunlight that is now being released, through the intervention of my axe and saw, to warm my shack and my spirit through eighty gusts of blizzard. And with each gust a wisp of smoke from my chimney bears witness, to whomsoever it may concern, that the sun did not shine in vain.

My dog does not care where the heat comes from, but he cares ardently that it come, and soon. Indeed he considers my ability to make it come as something magical, for when I rise in the cold black pre-dawn and kneel shivering by the hearth making a fire, he pushes himself blandly between me and the kindling splits I have laid on the ashes, and i must touch a match to them by poking it between his legs. Such faith, I suppose, is the kind that moves mountains.

It was a bolt of lightning that put an end to wood-making by this particular oak. We were all awakened, one night in July, by the thunderous crash we realized that the bolt must have hit near by, but, since it had not hit us, we all went back to sleep. Man brings all things to the test of himself, and this is notably true of lightning.

Next morning, as we strolled over the sandhill rejoicing with the coneflowers and the prairie clovers over their fresh accession of rain, we came upon a great slab of bark freshly torn from the trunk of the roadside oak. The trunk showed a long spiral scar of barkless sapwood, a foot wide and not yet yellowed by the sun. By the next day the leaves had wilted, and we knew that the lightning had bequeathed to us three cords of prospective fuel wood.

We mourned the loss of the old tree, but knew that a dozen of its progeny standing straight and stalwart on the sands had already over its job of wood-making.

We let the dead veteran season for a year in the sun it could no longer use, and then on a crisp winter’s day we laid a newly filed saw to its bastioned base. Fragrant little chips of history spewed from the saw cut, and accumulated on the snow before each kneeling sawyer. We sensed that these two piles of sawdust were something more than wood: that they were the integrated transect of a century that our saw was biting its way, stroke by stroke, decade by decade, into the chronology of a lifetime, written in concentric annual rings of good oak.

* * *

It took only a dozen pulls of the saw to transect the few years of our ownership, during which we had learned to love and cherish this farm. Abruptly we began to cut the years of our predecessor the bootlegger, who hated this farm, skinned it of residual fertility, burned its farmhouse, threw it back into the lap of the County (with delinquent taxes to boot), and then disappeared among the landless anonymities of the Great Depression, Yet the oak had laid down good wood for him his sawdust was fragrant, as sound, and as pink as our own. An oak is no respecter of persons.

The reign of this bootlegger ended sometime during the dust-bowl drouths of 1936, 1934, 1933, and 1930. Oak smoke from his still and peat from burning marshlands must have clouded the sun in those years, and alphabetical conservation was abroad in the land, but the sawdust shows no change.

Rest! cries the chief sawyer, and we pause for breath.

* * *

Now our saw bites into the 1920’s, the Babbittian decade when everything grew bigger and better in heedlessness and arrogance – until 1929, when stock markets crumpled. If the oak had heard them fell, it wood gives no sign. Nor did it heed the Legislature’s several prostestations of love for trees: a National Forest and a forest-crop law in 1927, a great refuge on the Upper Mississippi bottomlands in 1924, and a new forest policy in 1921. Neither did it notice the demise of the state’s last marten in 1925, nor the arrival of its first Starling in 1923.

In March 1922, the ‘Big Sleet’ tore the neighboring elms limb by limb, but there is no sign of damage to our tree. What is a ton of ice, more or less, to a good oak?

Rest cries the chief sawyer, and we pause for breath.

* * *

Now the saw bites into 1910-20, the decade of the drainage dream, when steam shovels sucked dry the marshes of central Wisconsin to make farms, and made ash-heaps instead. Our marsh escaped, not because of any caution or forbearance among engineers, but because the river floods it each April, and it did so with a vengeance – perhaps a defensive vengeance – in the years 1913-16. The oak laid wood just the same, even in 1915, when the Supreme Court abolished the state forests and Governor Phillip pontificated that ‘state forestry is not a good business proposition.’ (It did not occur to the Governor that there might more than definition of what is good, and even of what is business. It did not occur to him that while the courts were writing one definition of goodness in the law books, fires were writing quite another one on the face of the land. Perhaps, to be a governor, one must be free from doubt on such matters.)

While forestry receded during this decade, game conservation advanced. In 1916 pheasants became successfully established in Waukesha County in 1915 a federal law prohibited spring shooting in 1913 a state game farm was started in 1912 a ‘buck law’ protected female deer in 1911 an epidemic of refuges spread over the state. ‘Refuge’ became the holy word, but the oak took no heed.

Rest! cries the chief sawyer, and we pause for breath.

* * *

Now we cut 1910, when a great university president published a book on conservation, a great sawfly epidemic killed millions of tamaracks, a great drouth burned the pineries, and a great dredge drained Horicon Marsh.

We cut 1909, when smelt were first planted in the Great Lakes, and when a wet summer induced the Legislature to cut the forest-fire appropriations.

We cut 1908, a dry year when the forests burned fiercely. and Wisconsin parted with its last cougar.

We cut 1907, when a wandering lynx, looking in the wrong direction for the promised land, ended his career among the farms of Dane County.

We cut 1906, when the first state forester took office, and fires burned 17,000 acres in these sand counties we cut 1905 when a great flight of goshawks came out of the North and ate up the local grouse (they no doubt perched in this tree to eat some of mine). We cut 1902-03, a winter of bitter cold which brought the most intense drouth of rainfall only 17 inches 1900, a centennial year of hope, of prayer, and the usual ring of oak.

Rest! cries the chief sawyer, and we pause for breath.

* * *

Now our saw bites into the 1890𔃼, called gay by those whose eyes turn cityward rather than landward. We cut 1899, when the last passenger pigeon collided with a charge of shot near Babcock, two counties to the north we cut 1898 when a dry fall, followed by a snowless winter, froze soil seven feet deep and killed apple trees 1897, another drouth year, when another forestry commission came into being 1896, when 25,000 prairie chickens were shipped to market from the village of Spooner alone 1895, another year of fires 1894, another year of drouth, and 1893, the year of ‘The Bluebird Storm’, when a March blizzard reduced the migrating bluebirds to near-zero. (The first bluebirds always alighted in this oak, but in the middle ‘nineties it must have gone without.) We cut 1892, another year of fires 1891, a low in the grouse cycle and 1890, the year of the Babcock Milk Tester, which enabled Governor Heil to boast, half a century later, that Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland. The motor licenses which now parade that boast were then not foreseen, even by Professor Babcock…

You can find A Sand County Almanac and some of my other favorites, including Alone in the Widerness (DVD) at Amazon…





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February/March 2012

Around the Lake Notables

University of Minnesota Duluth’s James I. Swenson Civil Engineering Building was honored with the Distinguished Building Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chicago chapter and graced the cover of Chicago Architect, AIA Chicago’s magazine.

Bay Mills Indian Community took first place in a weight loss challenge for collectively shedding the most weight. In the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s 12-week Win by Losing Weight Loss Challenge, 44 members of the tribe lost 294.5 pounds.

Andy Borg and Michael “Mick” Paulucci, founders of Grandma’s Restaurant Company in Duluth, were honored as 2011 Restaurateurs of the Year by the Minnesota Restaurant Association, recognizing professionalism, innovation, leadership and community involvement. They helped to reshape Canal Park into a top tourist destination by opening the original Grandma’s, Grandma’s Sports Garden, Little Angie’s Cantina and Grill, and Bellisio’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar all in one neighborhood.

History Notes

February 2, 1996: Minnesota records its coldest temperature on record – minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit – at Tower, Minnesota.

February 16, 1926: The first ski jumping competition is held at Ishpeming Ski Club’s Suicide Hill in Ishpeming, Michigan.

March 17, 1969: Olympic boxer Domenic Filane Figliomeni is born in Terrace Bay, Ontario.

March 25, 1889: The city of Superior, Wisconsin, is incorporated (although the city was founded November 6, 1854).


The Food Almanac: February 12, 2013 - Recipes

A 46-year-old former fitness instructor, suffering from biventricular end-stage heart failure and in irreversible cardiogenic shock, has become the first to receive a new temporary Total Artificial Heart in the Northeast U.S. by cardiac surgeons at the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

This lifesaving technology is used as a &ldquobridge to transplant&rdquo for patients who are waiting for a donor human heart, who have both sides of their heart failing, do not respond to other treatments and are at imminent risk of death. Research has shown that patients receiving the device, called the temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH-t) and manufactured by CardioWest T (SynCardia Systems, Inc.), have almost twice the survival rate versus patients who received standard ventricular assist devices.

Dr. Rohinton Morris, surgical director, Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Assist Programs at Penn and his team performed Penn&rsquos first implant of a TAH-t on February 12, 2007, making Penn a certified transplant center for the new therapy. The patient, Gary Onufer, an Ambler, PA resident, spoke at a press conference last Monday, a week after his six-hour surgery. He said, &ldquoI feel very fortunate to have a new lease on life. now I feel very optimistic about the future. It feels great to be a pioneer.&rdquo

The TAH-t completely replaced his damaged heart, as opposed to just assisting it, while he waits for a donor heart to become available for transplant. Prior to the surgery, Mr. Onufer&rsquos heart could no longer pump enough blood to sustain his body, damaging his vital organs.

Dr. Morris commented, &ldquoThis unique new cardiac technology keeps the sickest of the sick&mdashthose with damage to their entire heart muscle&mdashalive while they wait for a heart transplant. This is just the latest addition to our already wide arsenal in battling the nation&rsquos number one killer, heart disease. We at Penn are dedicated to pioneer and lead in the field of heart transplantation and mechanical assist devices.&rdquo

The TAH-t is a modern version of the Jarvik-7 Artificial Heart that was implanted in patient Barney Clark in 1982. After ten years of study, (from 1993-2003) the TAH-t is now the only total artificial heart approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada and Communité Europeenne for &ldquobridge to transplant.&rdquo

Dr. Michael Acker, chief, Division of Cardiac Surgery, said, &ldquoGary is the perfect patient due to his courage, enthusiasm and determination.&rdquo

&ldquoThe TAH-t pumps up to 9.5 liters of blood per minute through both ventricles&mdashmaking it the highest cardiac output of all mechanical circulatory support devices. This is truly lifesaving technology, implanted to do the work of a failing human heart until another one becomes available,&rdquo Dr. Acker concluded.

Penn joins a short, prestigious list of institutions worldwide&mdashbecoming the first hospital in the region, 8th in the country, and 15th in the world&mdashto complete TAH-t certification by performing a first proctored implant.

Proceeds of more than $700,000 from The 2006 Philadelphia Antiques Show went to fund new technologies, including total artificial heart pumps, supporting consoles and monitoring equipment in the Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Assist Program in the Division of Cardiac Surgery.

Dr. Rohinton Morris and Dr. Michael Acker have no financial interest in CardioWest or SynCardia Systems, Inc.


Resilient Mosses

While most of our plants have dropped their leaves and either died or entered a long period of dormancy over the winter, an unassuming group of plants can still thrive in these cold temperatures: mosses. Walking along the paths of Lusitania Field or Woods, mosses are likely to be the greenest thing you can see in February. Given the right conditions, the vibrancy of a moss’s color in the middle of winter can be quite striking. You can find mosses on all sorts of substrates around Fresh Pond, from the soil to tree bark to rocks. And this is far from the harshest place mosses can thrive—mosses even grow in Antarctica!

Woodsy Thyme-moss (Plagiomnium cuspidatum) [ Record > ]

Mosses, also called bryophytes, are one of the oldest surviving lineages of plants, having first evolved over 450 million years ago. That’s over 300 million years before the earliest evidence of flowering plants (angiosperms) in the fossil record. The fact that mosses are so primitive can be seen clearly in their morphology—they do not have the same complex vasculature that most other plants do. The tiny “leaves” of moss consist of a single vein in the center of photosynthetic tissue and are often only one cell thick. Moss do not even have true roots like other plants do, and their cells absorb water directly from their immediate environment.

Mosses possess some unique capabilities, in addition to their distinctive morphology, that set them further apart from vascular plants. First off, mosses are desiccation-tolerant tolerant, meaning that they can survive a loss of moisture, sometimes for months, and recover once water becomes present again. This capability enables some mosses to endure freezing better than many other plants as well. The chief issue for an organism when it freezes is that the tiny ice crystals forming in its cells destroy critical structures. Some mosses, when ice or freezing temperatures are present, will rapidly lose their water so that there is no water inside the moss to freeze and damage these structures. Such a strategy to avoid freezing is only possible because mosses can tolerate drying out in the first place.

When they’re not avoiding freezing in winter, mosses are still busy photosynthesizing. Many mosses, in fact, can continue to photosynthesize significantly below freezing temperatures. One study of three mosses found that all three could photosynthesize down to at least -8ºC (18ºF). The authors of the study point out that those mosses are able to photosynthesize at temperatures lower than even evergreen trees can. Those green mats of moss peppered throughout the forest might not be the showiest plants out there, but they have an impressive story of survival to tell.

🐾 Nature Quest » Tracking Creatures–Big and Small

The snow that marks much of the February landscape at Lusitania meadow is perfect for a fun naturalist activity: identifying animal tracks! Even after a thaw, the ensuing mud can be good for tracking as well. Some easily identifiable tracks you might find around Fresh Pond are those of deer, squirrels, raccoons, and cottontail rabbits (like these tracks on the left). If you’re lucky, you might even see the tracks of something more exciting, like the tracks of a muskrat or a mink (of which there has been a recent, unconfirmed sighting at Fresh Pond).

Some boots and a field guide are all you need for an enriching walk figuring out what’s passed through in the night, or while no one’s looking.

Winter Chickadees and Titmice

The sight of tufted titmice (Baeolophus bicolor) and black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) is commonplace in the branches around Fresh Pond in the winter. Winter is a brutal time for chickadees and titmice, as it is the only time of year the resourceful birds experience true food scarcity (and the biting cold doesn’t help either). The youngest birds have it the toughest. About 75% of chickadees survive until their first winter only 30% survive through it. Chickadees and titmice have evolved some remarkable adaptations to survive this brutal time of year.

Chickadees and titmice form flocks throughout the winter, and often flock together. Other small birds tend to join these flocks, including downy woodpeckers (Dryobates pubescens), nuthatches (genus Sitta), golden-crowned kinglets (Regulus satrapa), and even brown creepers (Certhia americana). The flocking behavior of these birds helps them to be more successful in foraging for food when it is so scarce, and that’s a large part of what attracts such a variety of birds to these flocks.

The social and linguistic dynamics present in these flocks are incredibly intricate and the subject of much study. The alarm calls of these birds, in particular, have provided a unique view into the interconnected lives of the many animals that chickadees and titmice share their ecosystems with. A wide variety of animals, including chipmunks, respond to these calls. And it doesn’t stop there: chickadee alarm calls even encode information about predator size and threat level. If you hear the chickadee’s classic “chickadee-dee-dee” alarm call, the number of “dees” after the call serves as a rough indication of threat level.

The invaluable threat-level information that titmouse flocks provide to their associates have broad ecological implications. Titmice are generalist foragers and can make use of many different habitats when finding food. Associates with more narrow niches tend to keep more narrow territories when not associated with a flock. When they do follow foraging titmice into new habitats, though, they are exposed to new potential food sources that they would not have access to otherwise. It has been found that titmice, in fact, can expand the niches of their associates.

Also foraging generalists, chickadees spend a lot of time stashing food in late summer and autumn in order to help them survive the winter. With so many small stashes to remember throughout the winter, a chickadee’s brain is in for a challenge, but the birds have amazing cognitive capabilities that render them up to the task. A chickadee’s hippocampus, an area of the brain associated with memory, can grow 30% larger while the chickadee stashes food in various places throughout the fall. The growth of new brain cells significantly increases during this time. The environment chickadees find themselves in influences this growth as well—chickadees in harsher environments, where stashing and memory are more critical, typically see more brain growth than those in more forgiving environments. So while our winter chickadees at Fresh Pond have an impressive brain, it’s probably not quite on the level of one in, say, Alaska or the Yukon.

Chickadees and Titmice tend to be curious birds, and it’s obvious that they warrant just as much curiosity directed back at them. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the many adaptations of these remarkable and intelligent creatures. And if you pay enough attention, they’ll even reassure you spring is on the way on a February day—the territorial songs of Titmice are some of the first spring birdsongs you can hear in New England.

Of course, there is so much more to enjoy in February at Lusitania! Go check for yourself and enjoy your visit. 📅 Join our monthly Fresh Pond Wildlife Documentation Walk. Share your findings with us (you can comment below)! We will be back next month with a new slice of life in the meadow.

EwA Useful Links

February, 6 th 2020 | by Mike McGlathery

Editing & layout by Claire O’Neill. Banner picture © Claire O’Neill . All the in-text species photos in this article are visual records that the EwA team collects at our various study sites, including at Fresh Pond. Click on an y picture and you will land on the record and its owner. Ph otos are licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC). See EwA’s biodiversity occurrence records specific to this place i n t he EwA at Fresh Pond iNaturalist project.

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Weekly Thoughts

March 3, 2015
I love chores, I hate chores, I tolerate chores, I share my chores. But love them or hate them, it doesn’t really matter because, regardless, the chores will always be there. -Ryan Taylor, Write and North Dakota Rancher

February 24, 2015
We’re on the downhill slide of winter! -Gail Vanderpool, Alaskan

February 17, 2015
Chores are the foundation of the day to build from. First, get the chores done, and then tackle a bigger job or some special project, or go to town or save the world. I appreciate the foundation. I can count on chores to give me a few hours of rote responsibility and do some thinking about the rest of the day.

-Ryan Taylor, Writer and North Dakota Rancher

February 10, 2015
If there’s one thing to be said for life on a farm or a ranch,
it’s that everything has a season,and there’s a rhythm to things.
I know the rhythms of my ranch, and can keep the beat pretty decently.

-Ryan Taylor, Writer and North Dakota Rancher

January 27, 2015
“What I like to tell people is that the products that are on the market today, through the tools of biotechnology, are as safe or safer than any commodity you’ve ever eaten because no commodity has been put through such rigorous safety assessment.”
Thomas Clemente, Professor of Biotechnology,
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

January 20, 2015
Modern supercrops will be a big help. But agriculture can’t be fixed by biotech alone. Tim Folger, National Geographic

January 13, 2015
“We do feel a bit betrayed by the environmental movement, I can tell you that.” -Robert Zeigler, Director, International Rice Research Institute

January 6, 2015
“I prefer winter and fall when you feel the bone structure of the landscape – the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.” Andrew Wyeth, American Artist

December 30, 2014
Without stewards of the land like my ranching family, much of the vast, open west that we all love so well, would be lost forever. -Sarah Baker, Idaho Rancher

December 23, 2014
Christmas waves a magic wand over the world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. -Norman Vincent Peale

December 16, 2014
Christmas is not a time nor a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.

December 2, 2014
When I started counting my blessings, it turned my whole life around -Willie Nelson

November 27, 2014
For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, for love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.

November 18, 2014
Whiskey is for drinkin’, and water is for fightin’. -Mark Twain

November 11, 2014
If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.

N0vember 4, 2014
Be exacting and thorough in your work. -Robin W. L.

October 28, 2014
Before the reward there must be labor.
You plant before you harvest.
You sow in tears before you reap joy.
-Ralph Ransom

October 21, 2014
“If you get up every day to watch the sunrise, you will eventually learn the secret of life – that no matter what happens, the sun will come up in the morning.” -Valentine Valera

October 7, 2014
“The reality is that no single agricultural technology or farming practice will provide sufficient food for the world in 2050. Instead, we must advocate for and utilize a range of these technologies in order to maximize yields.”

Mark Rosegrant, Lead Author of an International Food Policy Research Institute report advocating that countries around the globe increase investment in agricultural research and farm-management practices.

September 30, 2014
“Those who make their living on the land show, time after time, that with proper land management practices, we protect and enhance the natural resources while producing food and fiber. We need to continue to develop relationships with those who are unfamiliar with our practices and demonstrate the importance of what we provide to the community, country and world.”

-Joe Pozzi, Sheep and Cattle Rancher

September 23, 2014
Weather Proverb: Thick and tight corn husks predict an early winter.

Successful Farming, September, 2013

September 16, 2014
From steers to cows, pigs to sows, and chicks to chickens, animal ag is our country’s number #1 customer for soy, eating 98% of U.S. soybean meal. Of course, in the end, we humans eat the milk, eggs and meat that these animals produce.

Soy checkoff, Beyond the Elevator, March, 2013

September 9, 2014
A farmer’s heart skips a beat when he sees
the harvest come safely in
the grain fully stored in the silo,
the potatoes overflowing their bins,
the calf fully grown.
This is the fruit of his year’s labor,
the culmination of his plans and dreams,
and he aims for this, for harvest.

Robin W.L., Kiss My Tractor

September 2, 2014
Farmers know they are in a speculative business they routinely bet on good weather and high prices.The difference between farmers and other speculators, however, is that society needs farmers to speculate in order to provide food and fiber to the entire population. -Steve Ford, Farm Futures, September 2013

August 26, 2014
“One of my greatest fears is that young people will lose interest in continuing one of the greatest American traditions: feeding ourselves and feeding the world.” -Howard G. Buffett, Ag. Advocate

August 19, 2014
“Don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things!” -Charlene Fink, Editor, Farm Journal

August 12, 2014
“The biggest challenge to food security in the U.S. is one of access, even more so than affordability.”Howard G. Buffett, Farmer and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation

July 22, 2014
The dreaming hills with their precious rustling wheat
meant more than even a spirit could tell.
Where had the wheat come from, that had seeded these fields?
Whence the first and original seeds, and where were the sowers?
Back in the ages!
The stars, the night, the dark blue of heaven
hid the secret in their impenetrableness.
Beyond them surely was the answer….

-Zane Grey, The Desert of Wheat, 1919

July 15, 2014
“I trust that future leaders, such as myself, will play a major role in continuing the growth of agriculture in the global economy. I believe that my generation will continue to enhance agriculture and related technologies.”

-Max Mielke, WAWG Wheat Ambassador

July 8, 2014
“The U.S. exports more than $30 billion in agricultural goods each year. Imagine the issues that would arise if the U.S. was not a leading competitor. Our whole economy would be harmed, and our whole nation, along with the world, would suffer.”

-Mas Mielke, WAWG Wheat Ambassador

July 1, 2014
“Food is not something to waste, because there is a farmer behind everything you consume. That farmer is someone like my father. I’ve seen his hard work, and I’ve learned that food does not magically appear on the shelves at the supermarket.”-Maya Wahl, WAWG Wheat Ambassador

June 24, 2014
TRUTH Behind every single thing you eat is a farmer, growing your food for you.

June 17, 2014
“Growing up on a farm has let me develop a unique perspective on food, while kids who grow up in urban areas, or even those who just don’t work in an agricultural setting are not as lucky. We put hard work and valuable time into making quality food for our consumers.”

-Maya Wahl, WAWG Wheat Ambassador

June 10, 2014
“Although I’ve never witnessed it first hand, there are kids who do not know how their

food gets to their family’s table.” -Maya Wahl, WAWG Wheat Ambassador

June 3, 2014
“There is an irreplaceable value to being educated about where your food comes from and an understanding of the countless hours that it takes to produce it. This allows you to be an educated consumer.” -Maya Wahl, WAWG Wheat Ambassador

May 27, 2014
“If I was given the opportunity to tell them (the public) something, it would be this: Your food is grown by a living person. Whether it is your bacon at breakfast, or the bread in your sandwich at lunch. There are agricultural producers behind every product you eat, organic and conventional. Food cannot be produced out of thin air.”

-Maya Wahl, WAWG Wheat Ambassador

May 20, 2014
“As an educated consumer, there are numerous benefits to be gained from shopping at the grocery store, and then preparing meals in the kitchen. I would encourage everyone to take the initiative to learn more about where their food come from.”

-Maya Wahl, WAWG Wheat Ambassador

May 13, 2014
“You don’t get celiac disease by eating gluten you have to have the gene which causes the disease. And during the same period that wheat consumption has declined, obesity has skyrocketed. Obesity is related to Americans eating 600 more calories per day now than they did in 1970, not wheat consumption.”

-Judi Adams, Director of the Wheat Foods Council

May 6, 2014
“Every bit of food people eat, somebody is behind that slice of bread or that steak they are eating. Somebody has put a lot of thought, money, care and time into that food.” -Maya Wahl, FFA Wheat Ambassador

April 29, 2014
“When we started using Roundup Ready sugar beet seed,
we reduced our herbicide use by 75%.”
-Russ Shroll, Farmer

April 22, 2014
“Living in this rural community, I am surrounded by agriculture. I’m so thankful that I understand where my food comes from and how agriculture works. I’m very fortunate.” -Maya Wahl, FFA Wheat Ambassador

April 15, 2014
The farmer, if not absolutely rich, is at least independent.

April 8, 2014
More people study public relations than agriculture. The smart move for all those MBA graduates would be to get agriculture degrees. -Jim Rogers

April 1, 2014
A farmer’s days are long, but the office has a pretty sweet view. -Farm Bureau

March 25, 2014
Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are. -Anthelme Brillat Savarin

March 18, 2014
“Great difficulties may be surmounted by patience and perseverance.” -Abigail Adams

March 11, 2014
“Work is like old age, the worst thing in the world except for the alternative.”
-Pig Farmer, Downton Abbey

March 4, 2014
“Live in each season as it passes
breathe the air, drink the drink,
taste the fruit, and resign yourself
to the influence of the earth.”
-Henry David Thoreau

February 25, 2014
“You’ve achieved success in your field when you don’t know whether what you are doing is work or play.” – Warren Beatty

February 18, 2014″My grandfather used to say that once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman and a preacher, but every day, three times a day, you need a farmer.” Brenda Schoepp

February 4, 2014
Every farmer in America grows enough food to feed 155 people. That’s something to think about, the next time you eat. Thank you, America’s Farmers!

January 28, 2014
“I love dealing with farmers every day. They are the best people in the world. And I would say that even if I had not been raised on a wheat farm.” -Allen Hatley

January 21, 2014
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”
-Robert Louis Stevenson

January 14, 2014
As long as people live on the earth, agriculture will be important. The students of today are the future produces and consumers of tomorrow.
-Idaho Ag in the Classroom

January 1, 2014
“We were taught that farming was important,
that farmers are special
that to farm the land is a higher calling.”-Mary Hillebrecht, Farmer

December 24, 2013
“There has only been one Christmas the rest are all anniversaries.”
-W. J. Cameron

December 17, 2013
The joy of brightening other lives,
bearing each others’ burdens,
easing others’ loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts,
becomes for us the magic of the holidays.

December 9, 2013
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.
Oren Arnold

December 3, 2013
When we recall Christmases past, we usually find that the simplest things, not the great occasions, give off the greatest glow of happiness. -Bob Hope

The First Thanksgiving, by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe 1850-1936

November 26, 2013
In seed time, learn
In harvest, teach,
In winter, enjoy
-William Blake

November 19, 2013
“The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few” Matthew 9:37

November 12, 2013
Farming needs a kind of toughness, doesn’t it?
There is room for sentiment, but not sentimentality.
Lady Lydia, Downton Abbey, Season 1

November 5, 2013
“And God took a handful of
southerly wind, blew His
breath over it and created
the horse.”

October 29, 2013
And the ripe harvest of the new mown hay
gives it a sweet and wholesome odour.
-Cibber, Richard III, Act V

October 22, 2013
“The invited neighbors to the husking come
A frolic scene, where work and mirth and play
unite their charm to cheer the hours away.”
-Joel Barlow – The Hasty Pudding

October 15, 2013
“Man is most uniquely human when he turns obstacles into opportunities.” – Eric Hoffer

October 8, 2013
“Eating is an agricultural act.” – Wendell Berry

October 1, 2013
“I think that is an argument we need to make, that the stuff people want, the flavorful and the safe, we are doing that in production agriculture.” -Brad Issak, Washington Wheat Farmer

September 24, 2013
“Farmers are trying to provide for their families and others. They are passionate about what they are doing, work tirelessly and carry more risk than most businesses would be willing to carry. It is a great life, but not always a great living.”
–Jerry McReynolds, Kansas wheat farmer and stockman

September 17, 2013
“Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.” – Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to George Washington (1787)

September 9, 2013
“If you want organic, then do buy it. However, organic will not feed the world. It’s just a fact. It’s not saying that it is any worse or any better, they are just two different things” –Dianne McKinley, Washington Association of Wheat Growers

September 3, 2013
“You must take the good with the bad, and be a caregiver of the land, not a taker. When Mother Earth deals you a bad hand, you must grit your teeth, bow your back, and move down the path.”-Hank Vogler, Old Time Sheep Rancher, Great Basin, Nevada

August 27, 2013
“Prosperous farmers mean more employment, more prosperity for the workers and the businessmen of every industrial area in the whole country.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

August 20, 2013
“It’s important to look closely at all opportunities, and once you have made a decision, to jump in with both feet.” -David Mirassou, grape grower and winemaker

August 13, 2013
“Nothing straightens your spine like having
your back against the wall”-Jan Current’s grandmother Edith

August 6, 2013
“Our nation’s farmers and ranchers, the men and women who grow our food and care for our land – they should be applauded, supported and protected. They are truly our National Treasures.” -Robin W.L.

July 30, 2013
“I begin now to think all time lost that is not employed in farming.” John Adams

July 23, 2013
“I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries as long as they are chiefly agricultural.” Thomas Jefferson

July 16, 2013
“There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third is by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry.” Benjamin Franklin

July 9, 2013
“I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.” -George Washington

July 2, 2013
“There isn’t anything about farming I don’t like. I like the planting, the irrigating, the harvest. I like the work and I like my chickens. It’s a good lifestyle.”
-Kathy Guido, Farmer

June 25, 2013
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” –Thomas Edison

June 18, 2013
Make hay when the sun shines!

June 11, 2013
“…there is a new trend with people-wanting to know where their food comes from, so they are becoming more interested in agriculture. Consumers are asking questions about their food. They want it local. They want to know where it was grown. They want it natural, and they want it safe.”-Marci Green, Farmer, Fairfield, Washington

June 4, 2013
The life of a farmer is a great life to live. Out on the farm, scratching in the dirt, inhaling the distinctive scent of the growing crops, and appreciating the fresh smell after a spring rain. Life on a farm is a blessing like no other.” –JD Rosman, Washington Wheat Ambassador

May 28, 2013
“We forever will be known by the tracks we leave behind us.” – Dakota proverb

May 21, 2013
Give fools their gold, and knaves their power
let fortune’s bubble rise and fall
who sows the field, or trails a flower, or plants a tree,
is more than all.
-John Greenleaf Whittier

May 14, 2013
“I have always said there is only one thing that can bring our nation down – our dependence on foreign countries for food and energy. Agriculture is the backbone of our economy.” -John Salazar

May 8, 2013
“Burrows left by worms are nature’s own system for collecting rainwater in the soil where plant roots can suck it up. This gives less water runoff to strip away valuable topsoil and deposit chemicals in waterways…” -Edwin Berry, National Soil Tilth Lab, Ames, Iowa

April 30, 2013
“Our farmers feed the WORLD, and it’s time we paid attention.”

April 23, 2013
“For America’s farmers and ranchers, every day is Earth Day!”

April 16, 2013 “Thank a farmer three times a day!”

April 9, 2013
“The person who has plenty of food to eat may have many problems. The person who has no food to eat has only one.

April 2, 2013
“Farming is sometimes like throwing fist-fulls of cash up into the air, and hoping to catch more than you threw.” – Robin W.L.

March 26, 2013
“If you’re using first-class land for biofuels, then you’re competing with the growing of food. And so you’re actually spiking food prices by moving energy production into agriculture.” –Bill Gates

March 19, 2013
“Agriculture was the first manufacturing industry in America and represents the best of all of us.” –Zack Wamp

March 13, 2013
“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfield.” –Dwight D. Eisenhower

March 5, 2013
“Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest wheat you haven’t planted.” –David Bly

February 26, 2013
“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”
– Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

February 20, 2013
Ways To Be Efficient and Happy:
Soak up some sunshine – spend some time outside each day
Give a compliment – it makes you feel good, too
Take some time for yourself – do something you enjoy
Challenge yourself physically – get some exercise
Think small – break down big projects into small pieces

February 12, 2013
“Our farmers deserve praise, not condemnation and their efficiency should be cause for gratitude, not something for which they are penalized.” – President John F. Kennedy


GLADSTONE — Delta County’s rotating homeless shelter will be hosted by the Evangelical Covenant Church, 305 S. 9th St., Gladstone, starting March 8. They are assisted by Ford River Community Chapel. To see where evening meals and trained volunteers are needed, check www.HopeAtTheInn.org or .

ESCANABA — The following individuals were recently sentenced in Delta County Circuit Court in unrelated cases. Shawn Patrick Writt, 32, of Delta County Correctional Facility, 2800 College Ave., Escanaba, pleaded guilty to one count of controlled substance - delivery/manufacture - meth. He .


April’s full Pink Moon rises on the night of Tuesday, April 7

/> /> /> /> /> /> /> by SPOT THE SUPER PINK MOON: A SUPERMOON AND THE FIRST FULL MOON OF SPRING!

April’s full Moon rises on the night of Tuesday, April 7. Traditionally called the Pink Moon, this full Moon will also be a spectacular supermoon! Here’s everything you should know about the Moon this month, including facts, folklore, and Moon phase dates.

WHEN TO SEE THE FULL MOON IN APRIL 2020

Venture outside on the night of Tuesday, April 7, to catch a glimpse of April’s full Pink Moon. This full Moon—which is a supermoon, the first full Moon of spring, and the Paschal Full Moon—will be visible after sunset and reach peak illumination at 10:35 P.M. EDT.

For the best view of this lovely spring Moon, find an open area and watch as the Moon rises just above the horizon, at which point it will appear its biggest and take on a golden hue! (Find local Moon rise and set times here.)

SUPER PINK MOON: THE BIGGEST AND BRIGHTEST SUPERMOON OF THE YEAR

(Note: Before you get your hopes up, this “Super Pink Moon” won’t actually look “super pink”—or any hue of pink, really. The Moon will be its usual golden color near the horizon and fade to a bright white as it glides overhead. Learn why it’s called the Pink Moon below!)

We’re currently in the midst of a series of supermoons, with the first having occurred on March 9 and the last occurring on May 7. That makes April’s full Moon the second supermoon in this series, but certainly not the one to miss.

Thanks to the fact that April’s full Moon will be closer to Earth than either other supermoon in the series, it will be the biggest and brightest full Moon of 2020!

How big and how bright, exactly? On average, supermoons are about 7% bigger and about 15% brighter than a typical full Moon. However, unless you were to see a regular full Moon and a supermoon side by side in the sky, the difference is very difficult to notice. Learn more about supermoons here!

The First Full Moon of Spring & the Paschal Full Moon

April’s full Moon is the first to occur after the March equinox, which makes it the first full Moon of spring and the Paschal Full Moon. The Paschal Full Moon is the full Moon that determines the date of Easter. Find out more about Easter and Paschal Full Moon here.

WHY IS IT CALLED THE PINK MOON?

Although we wish this name had to do with the color of the Moon, the reality is not quite as mystical or awe-inspiring. In truth, April’s full Moon often corresponded with the early springtime blooms of a certain wildflower native to eastern North America: Phlox subulata—commonly called creeping phlox or moss phlox—which also went by the name “moss pink.”

Thanks to this seasonal association, this full Moon came to be called the Pink Moon!


February Almanac

Crocus burst open like paper fortune tellers, hellebores whisper prophesies of spring, and in the backyard, where a speckled bird is kicking up fresh mulch, winter Daphne blushes like bright-eyed maidens in faded terra-cotta planters.

All of this, yet winter feels deep-rooted, endless. As if her flowers were cruel illusion. As if your bones could be forever yoked to this chill.

Then one day, out of nowhere, a new warmth arrives with the daffodils, a new softness beckoning you outdoors.

Beneath the bare-branched sycamore, where the picnic table has all but forgotten its name, February sunshine feels like a warm bath. You’ve brought lunch — a thermos of soup — and as the sunbeams dance across your face and skin, you feel, for the first time in months, as open as the crocus. As if winter might release you. As if hellebores were true harbingers of spring.

Beside your thermos, a feathery caterpillar edges toward you. Did it fall from the sky? You look up toward bare branches, wonder where he came from, where he’s going, whether he’ll be the speckled bird’s lunch. He’s closer now, gliding across your idle spoon, and as you observe his wispy yellow coat, you see yourself in this tiny being and in what he might become:

Enamored by each fragrant blossom wide open ever-seeking the simple grace of light.

February sunshine has transformed us, encoding within us the promise of spring. We can feel it now.

The Lenten Rose

When a plant blooms in the dead of winter, it is neither ordinary nor meek. That plant is a pioneer.

Also called the “Lenten rose”, the hellebore is a beloved and shade-tolerant herbaceous or evergreen perennial — not a rose — that so happens to thrive here. Some species more than others.

Take, for example, the bear claw hellebore, which is named for its deeply cut “weeping” leaves. February through April, this herbaceous perennial displays chartreuse green flowers that the deer won’t touch, and you shouldn’t either (read: toxic when ingested). As the flowers mature, the petal edges blush a soft, pale ruby. Talk about subtle beauty, but more for the eyes than for the nose (its crushed leaves are what give it the nickname “stinking hellebore”).

On behalf of every flower-loving soul aching in their bones for the coming spring, thank you, hellebore. You’re a true queen.

Full Snow Moon

The Full Snow Moon will rise at night on Feb. 8, peaking in the earliest hour of the morning on Feb. 9. Also called the Bone Moon, this supermoon (the closest the moon can come to Earth in its orbit) marks a time of heavy snowfall and, in earlier times, little food. If you’re warm and full-bellied, this moon is a good one to share the wealth.

I know him, February’s thrush,

And loud at eve he valentines

On sprays that paw the naked bush

Where soon will sprout the thorns and bines.

— George Meredith, “The Thrush in February,” 1885

Warm Your Bones

This month in the garden, sow beet, mustard and turnip seeds. Plant your spring salad (loose leaf lettuce, arugula, spinach, carrots, radish, cilantro). But while it’s cold out, soup!

The following recipe from DamnDelicious.net is a quickie — all the better for soaking up more February sunshine while the spring garden grows.

Spinach and White Bean Soup

1 cup uncooked orzo pasta

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in thyme and basil until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in vegetable stock, bay leaves and 1 cup water bring to a boil. Stir in orzo reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender, about 10–12 minutes.

Stir in spinach and cannellini beans until the spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and parsley season with salt and pepper, to taste.


Watch the video: Feb 29 Daily Almanac (May 2022).