Local businesses are finding creative ways to service customers during this time of social distancing. One of my favorite nurseries allows online ordering. Pay in advance, drive to the store and park at the curb. Look for your name prominently displayed on a filled wagon or basket. Pull your purchases to your trunk, load up, return the wagon, and drive home!
Forsythia and red maple buds appear at the same time in Massachusetts, lending a sorely needed explosion of color to the early Spring landscape.
Squirrels like to frolic among the decorative forsythia branches, but they are particularly attracted to the maples. They “tap” them by making single bites in the bark to get the sap flowing, so they can consume the concentrated “syrup” once some of the water has evaporated. Later, the squirrels enjoy a feast of buds and flowers.
Continuing my stay-at-home explorations in the kitchen, I now head to my cupboard to find ingredients, instead of going to the grocery store. Canned garbanzo beans, peanut butter and bottled lemon juice combined for a smooth, zesty hummus. I didn’t miss the tahini or fresh lemon.
I used egg replacer in my chocolate cake mix, and saved the real eggs for Easter. Replacing the oil with Greek yogurt led to a dense, moist batch of cupcakes.
Tomie dePaola, the popular author of hundreds of children’s books, died recently.
His works were featured in my elementary classroom throughout my career. He reminded teachers to never talk down to children, to speak to them in a natural voice and not to shy away from difficult social subjects. His thoughtful and beautiful illustrations are filled with details that encourage children to look deeply at them. Indeed, Tomie dePaola makes a perfect at-home author study for children of diverse ages. The whole family, including adults, can enjoy these stories together.
“Strega Nona”, the story of a “grandmother witch” and her magic pasta pot, is his most beloved book. The character of Big Anthony, who did not pay attention, was dePaola’s cautionary tale for children. Big Anthony clamors for the praise of the crowd without thinking about the calamity his actions will cause. It is only the quiet, steady wisdom of Strega Nona that averts disaster.
May we be Strega Nonas in these difficult times, and strive to “pay attention”.
Mosses appeared on Earth more than 400 million years ago, predating dinosaurs. On this early Spring day, these everlasting benign plants with their cushiony forms and lush green tones brighten up my yard, like old friends.
Here in Massachusetts, the forsythia and red maples are in bud, and a Winter Storm Warning for several inches of snow is in effect. As Mark Twain famously said, “if you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.”