The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Greetings to everyone in western Illinois. Here it is well into the first week of May and most fields remain wet. A few on the bottoms and some on the well drained Muscatine silt loam soils started planting Monday, May 5, in a one-half way skeptical manner. That ground, that was worked and/or planted just ahead of the last rain, is hard as a rock.
Some say they'll need to work it again before planting and that which was already planted needs a good shower to get it thru the crust. Ouch! Can you believe it, needing more rain already?
The month of May is named for the Roman goddess Maia, who it was believed ruled over the growth of plants.
This month in ancient times was celebrated by the Celts to encourage fertility in newly sown fields. May baskets are a fragment of the enthusiasm Celts held for May.
Traditional May Day rituals celebrated the sun's victory over winter. Young maidens filled baskets with flowers and greens and bathed their faces in the May Day dew to enhance their complexions.
To improve their dewy glow, they would make an eye compress of cool cucumbers.
Also, they made a refreshing facial mask with grated cucumber and plain yogurt, both blended well.
May begins with dancing around the Maypole. It ends with a poignant reminder of the frailty and tenacity of life, Memorial Day.
Farmers know of May's unpredictable weather. They feverishly work to complete planting and most can remember a snowstorm or two in May.
Housekeepers traditionally bring a surge of energy into May. It sets them scrubbing, organizing, and airing out every corner of the house.
Windows are cleaned in May as one of the years biannual tasks (spring and fall).
In the old days rugs were carried outdoors and beat feverishly. Walls were washed down and all vestiges of the winters wood burning stove were tried to be removed.
Stove pipes were often taken off in some rooms and the stove moved back, more out of the way.
Summer kitchens were cleaned up making ready for their use in the coming warm summer months. A must to get the cooking heat out of the house.
The ice house was stocked with left over straw or cobs from spring shelling of corn.
They insulated your winter gathered ice from warmer months and assured ample supply of ice as long as possible.
Ice frolics and wood cutting were community affairs in days of old. Neighbors and relatives would gather together to make "many hands make lite work" of those tedious chores.
By the end of this month we enjoy 15 hours of daylight or more each day. Every minute is needed for the many tasks this month holds.
During this months watch for the order of Ephemeroptera, or Mayflies, hatching in lakes and streams. They don't live long, but they drive fish crazy and are the models for many fishing lures.
How many can remember the high way department using snowplows to remove the many Mayflies from the Burlington bridge? They were so slick they presented a traction problem on the pavement.
Cornelius Farkward and I had us a nice visit on one of our most recent rainy days. He had many topics on his mind and I suggested he hold his fever a bit.
I advised him, "You can expect to get rode if'n you make a donkey outta" yer'self". I sez why don't you just, "sit on th' fence" and ride these politics out awhile.
Well, he sez, "straddlin' the fence is about like straddling the middle of the road. You are liable to be hit from both sides".
One of his problems was with a story he recently heard on the radio. It seems some parent strapped a 5 1/2 month old baby in a car seat for 8 1/2 days.
It was reported the baby received infection from not having a diaper change that entire time. The baby died from the infection.
Now, Cornelius reasons that this parent, in years past, probably would have qualified for institutionalization. Now a days, a fair amount of those folks is walkin' the streets havin' babies and shootn' up shoppin' malls.
Their reasoning power does not allow behavior that is acceptable by many of societies standards.
Consequently this sensational news hits the headlines-encouraging laws to punish those that would do that behavior in the first place.
Well, Cornelius I sez, what you are saying is very controversial especially amongst liberal bleedin' hearts and those who have never had a loved one shot down. In fact, I tells Cornelius, I ain't agonna report on your concerns because those liberals gots lots of power today. Why, "I'd rather go grizzly bear huntin' with a switch than tackle one of those owl hoots with their massive political power today".
In all probability if'n I was to report on all of Cornelius's concerns on that a rainy day, the authorities would likely take my pen away.
Beside, "I cain't mess with that,-I got other fish to fry".
I gotts me a passal of corn and beans to plant in between rains and before Memorial Day comes.
Keep on Smilin'!
Catch ya later