By Paula Mitchell
February is the shortest month of the year, but sometimes it seems to be the longest. It is usually a muddy month when the frozen ground begins to thaw. That season called “mud” comes between winter and spring. The writer is sure that it centers in the middle of February. It can be vicious and sneaky with unexpected snowstorms and biting, cruel winds. Sometimes it drops a mild, sunny day to one, and then follows with a bitterly cold one dripping with icicles.
It is soup weather. With that, lots of vegetables can go into soup, depending on the recipe. Vegetables often can be carried to the counter by way of a basket.
The pioneers used baskets to haul grain, carry vegetables, fruits, eggs and store sewing implements. Basketmaking goes back before recorded history.
Pioneers made baskets using skills taught to them by their parents. They used whatever materials were at hand, but white oak was the primary material. It has a strong grain and is strong, flexible and durable. The wood needed to come from the forest, a smaller tree between six and 10 inches around. It has to be perfectly straight with no imperfections like knots, bug holes, or deer rubs.
Once the basketmakers have a tree, it is felled after which five- to six-foot sections are taken. Using mallets, wedges and knives, the sections are reduced to long thin strips of wood to weave into a basket, starting from the bottom.
When the sides are raised, a rim finishes the basket. Weaving should be snug. The key is to achieve the right tightness without unduly straining the wood. A basket used for harvesting field crops might have large gaps to let rocks and dirt to sift out. Other baskets might require tighter weaving and a top to retain small items, like sewing pins.
The pioneers did not think the baskets were to be used for decoration or collector’s items. They did not use nails, glue or forms to assemble the baskets. The way they made their baskets had a harmonious work. Everything in basketmaking worked together. Each basketmaker tended to specialize in a type of basket.
To have an old egg basket, made by a pioneer, is a treasure of memories to keep. The hard work surrounding these baskets reminds one to appreciate that life style. It takes skill to accomplish the finished product.
Life’s instructions from grandma include the following:
- Always, always speak the truth.
- Please and thank you are good words, use them often.
- Don’t go where a person is not invited.
- Don’t call someone after nine o’clock at night.
- Always flush the toilet when one uses it.
Moisture from snow and rains accumulated about 2 inches in this community. The South Fork River had quite a lot of water racing towards the Potomac River. Last week’s temperatures rose to the high 60s with strong winds bringing in a cold front and Saturday morning’s temperature being 16°. Of course, the winds take up what moisture lingers on the ground. Hopefully, a good bit of moisture soaked into the ground, raising the water table.
This week’s clickety-clacks for the chin waggers are as follows:
- Easter Island is a territory of Chile.
- Nothing of note happened on April 18, 1930.
- The Bible has been translated into Elvish and Klingon.
- June is the wettest month in the United States.
- Johnny Cash’s brother is also a singer/songwriter.
Not sure where to sit to hear the “Talk of the Grove.”
Ava Bowers, daughter of Shaun and Leslie Bowers, placed third at the Pendleton County Social Studies Fair, Saturday. Her project was on Sugar Grove, before and after the fire of 1929.
The quilting group completed 200 quilts to send to be used by World Relief. This group met every Wednesday at St. John Lutheran Church to knot the quilts and to enjoy soup and sandwiches.
Visiting with Rosalee Grogg this week were Marleta Wimer, Terri Grogg and her friend, Claude.
The South Fork Volunteer Fire Department’s Auxiliary had its Christmas/valentine party this past week. A surprise birthday party for Phil Downs was enjoyed by all.
It won’t be long before the hummingbirds will be arriving. When cleaning up the feeders, be sure to use a weak vinegar solution to clean. Please avoid using soap or dish detergent as this leaves harmful residue in the feeder.
“Pidge” Anderson saw her first robin Monday morning. She and Charles enjoyed a mess of dandelions for Sunday dinner.
Helen and Rhonda Nash are celebrating the recent birth of Marley Anne Putnam, whose parents are granddaughter/niece, Savannah, and husband, Brogan Putnam of Wasilla, Alaska. Marley brings the total of the fourth generation to 14 and now ties the girls with the boys.
The Sugar Grove Lions Club held its meeting with a crueller dinner. Evelyn Varner is the crueller maker and she does a great job.
Quotes for the week are as follows:
“The only things you can take with you when you leave this world are things you’ve packed inside you’re heart.” — Susan Gale
“Be happy. You never know how much time you have left.” — Unknown
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” — Picasso
“Do everything with a good heart and expect nothing in return, and you will never be disappointed.” — Barbara Lowe
“However much you deny the truth, the truth goes on existing.” — George Orwell
Concerns for this week are many, and they are as follows: Roger and Joan Ashley, Mercedes Aumann, Vernon “Fuzzy” Baldwin, Nathan Beachler, Lynn Beatty, the Bill Brackman family, Jed Conrad, Rachel Felton Wright, Mia Felici, Donna Fleisher, Ron Gilkerson, Lola Graham, Marvin Hartman, Steve and Armanda Heavner, the Rheba Helmick family, Gary and Jackie Hills, Virgil Homan, Jr., Myrtle Hoover, Debbie Horst, Anna Gae Hughes, Alice Johnson, Kim Kline, Richard Judy, Melissa Lambert, Robert Lambert, Rex Landis, Angela Lung, Linda Malcolm, Betty Mallow, Roger and Skip Mallow, Neil McLaughlin, Jamie Mitchell, Melvin Moats, Aaron Nelson, Ruth Nelson, Don Nilsen, Cheryl Paine, Sutton Parrack, Shirley Pratt, Kathy Propst, Linda Propst, Mike Propst, Stanley Propst, Sheldon Propst, Verla Puffenbarger, Gary Rexrode, Jason Rexrode, Jimmy Rexrode, the Art Sawyer family, Robbie Sites, Ona Smith, Sandra Vandevander, Pam Rexrode, Max Rodriguez, Donna Ruddle, Annie Simmons, Barry and Phyllis Simmons, Davey Simmons, Margaret Wimer, people in Ukraine and Yemen and earthquake victims in Turkey.