White Plains first graders enjoy reading ‘The Mitten’

Winter’s longest month is almost over

The swan song of January is almost here. Winter’s longest month will come to an end tomorrow. As we approach the February, some of winter’s coldest days may be ahead, but February is a month with only 28 days. When February arrives, we will only have 49 days until spring. That may seem like a long time in winter, but spring will be here before you know it. We celebrated Saint Hilary’s Day on Wednesday, Jan. 26, and it is said to be winter’s coldest day, but with February just outside the door we could be in for more cold weather than Saint Hilary could dish out. Hopefully, we can have a hefty snow or two in February.

Winter snow has a ton of benefits

Winter snow will blanket the garden plot, sweeten the Siberian kale, enrich the soil with nutrients, build up the water table, and enlarge the turnips. It soaks into the winter lawn, kills wintering insects, weed seeds, eggs and larvae and harmful organisms in the soil, beautifies the landscape and excites kids. “Some are cold and a few are frozen,” but those who like snow are special and chosen. Snow makes it easy to inhale and exhale. It opens the nostrils and lungs and perks up the immune system, generates a sense of excitement, and brings an atmosphere of calm and excitement to a restless world. The winter snow will melt the heart and bring excitement to the soul. There is a certain amount of excitement in a forecast that says snow is on the way.

Looking forward, expecting a snow day

Whether you love snow or not, its something you have to deal with so why not deal with it before it occurs? Several items you will need ahead of time for a snow day to be easier to cope with are windshield washer fluid, a durable ice scraper and brush, several can of de-icer, a snow shovel, a bag of ice melt, a small whisk broom, bread for sandwiches, some quick snacks and junk food items, evaporated milk for hot chocolate, a gallon of milk to make snow cream, plenty of sandwich material and frozen pizzas. No snow day is a success without these items.

Keeping snow and ice out of birdbaths

With ice and snow in the birdbath and other sources of water covered with snow, birds have a difficult time finding water. There is water on the streets but with snow removal, it has salt in it, and that may be hazardous to their health. On snowy or icy days or freezing mornings, empty ice or snow from birdbaths and refill with fresh water. Repeat later in the day.

Keeping an old fashioned oil lamp handy

Technology in the 21st century is good, but when it fails, an old fashioned quality oil lamp filled with lamp oil is a practical item to have in reserve when power goes out. They are handy when the batteries are low and the heat goes off. Many hardwares feature quality oil lamps, with spare wicks, burners and lamp oils. A good lamp costs around $ 9 or $ 10. Instead of kerosene oil they feature lamp oil in different scents that burn clean. They are certainly a great investment for any season of the year. Webster Brothers Ace Hardware in Walkertown has a great selection of oil lamps, brass spare burners, wicks and an inventory of scented oils. Always use oil lamps on a solid surface and away from the reach of children. Always be present in the room where an oil lamp is lit.

A year of colorful four o’clocks

Plan for plenty of color in the year of summer 2022 flower garden with plenty of four o’clock bushes. Four o’clock bushes provide flowers in colors of red, white, pink, rose, wine, and yellow. They produce plenty of lush green foliage and will bloom from late May to early October. You can purchase them in packets from Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Ace Hardware, Food Lion, Lowe’s Foods and hardwares. The speckled and marbled varieties can be ordered from Park Seed and Burpee catalogs. They thrive in all types of soil. My Northampton County grandma had beds of them growing in the acid soil of her front yard. Four o’clocks will also thrive on the edges and corners of your garden plot for plenty of foliage and color. Buy seed now and store in a cool dry place.

Checking out the Christmas cactus

At the end of January, the Christmas cactus looks healthy in the sunny living room. As winter moves along, the cactus produces runners that need to be trimmed to promote new growth. They need a drink of Miracle-Gro liquid plant food mixed with the proper amount of water once a month and to dampen them with water every seven to ten days. You can also feed cactus with Flower-Tone organic flower food every 10 days. If the foliage looks reddish in color, this is a signal from the cactus that it is receiving too much sun. Just move it further away from the sunny window and this should take care of that situation quickly.

Watching panda and asparagus ferns

As the asparagus and panda ferns spend winter in the living room, they too, develop runners that need to be trimmed back to promote growth and these runners need to be checked every week and trimmed so they will produce more foliage. Water once a week but only dampen the medium, do not over water. Use Miracle-Gro liquid plant food with proper amount of water. You can also use a handful of Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month. Check both the Christmas cactus and ferns by sticking your index finger in the medium to check for moisture content. Lightly water when needed.

Robins bouncing around on lawn

Plenty of healthy robins visit the lawn and birdbaths every day. When the ground is not frozen, they seem to find plenty of grubs and insects. They are not shivering and are spry in their movements. The robins may not be building nests or laying eggs and we believe they stay in hollow trees and windows, in woodpiles, or under outbuildings, sheds, and in attics eaves of houses or in and under barns. The ground doesn’t freeze that much in winter and our winters are quite temperate and the robins we it don’t seem to be suffering any ill effects from the cold. Maybe they can make a dent in the Japanese beetle population by eating their grubs! We wish them the very best.

Enjoying the perennials of winter

Perennials are one of the year-round blessings of the world of flowers. They put on a special show of life in all four seasons of the year with little upkeep. In winter, they don’t need much water and are tough enough to stand ice freezes, frost, snow and sleet and freezes. On the porch and deck are the coral bells, diantus, bugle weed, sea thrift, creeping phlox, periwinkle, dusty miller, American violets, bee balm, hen and chicks and pink thrift. They all stay green and a few of them produce flowers in winter. All are great investments in foliage, color and beauty all year long. They perform well when you plant only one per container and allow them plenty of room to spread out.

Making brown sugar maple pies

For these two pies you will need one box (pound) light brown sugar, three tablespoons plain flour, three large eggs, half cup melted light margarine, one cup milk, one teaspoon vanilla, one teaspoon maple flavoring, one cup chopped pecans, two unbaked at crusts. Mix brown sugar and flour, add eggs and beat well, add melted margarine and beat until light, add milk, vanilla and maple flavoring. Pour into two unbaked pie crusts. Bake at 325 degrees until slightly firm and set. You can add chopped pecans to the pie mixture or spread on top of pie. We prefer them in the pie.

Groundhog Day

Wednesday, Feb. 2 will be Groundhog Day or Candlemas as it is known in Pennsylvania Dutch Country and now of New England. Whether the groundhog inside his shadow or not, we still have at least six more weeks of winter and maybe more even into the month of April. A bit of Groundhog Day weather lore says “If Candlemas is stormy, it will carry Old Man Winter on its back.” We believe this is “groundhog wash” because we have too many calendar days of winter remaining!

Hoe hoe hoedown

– “Wabbit wabbit.” If carrots are so good for the eyes, how come we see so many dead rabbits on the interstate?

-Fat for the thought. The older you get the harder it is to lose weight because by then your body and your fat have become very good friends.

-Dieting is going some length to change your width!

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