Shawnee News-Star Weekender Nov 23, 2019 Becky Emerson Carlberg Some patches of red still emanate from the Bradford pear leaves I am now raking into immense piles.  Didn't happen on the tree since it decided to cut loose its leaves after the previous brief spell of bitter cold.  Pretty much the same story with all […]

Shawnee News-Star Weekender Nov 23, 2019

Ready to Feast

Becky Emerson Carlberg

Some patches of red still emanate from the Bradford pearleaves I am now raking into immense piles. Didn't happen on the tree since it decided to cut loose its leaves afterthe previous brief spell of bitter cold. Pretty much the same story with all the trees around my house except theoaks.  The leaves on these tough trees mayappear quite brown during the day, but as the sun sets, they glow red, yellowand orange.  Soon all leaves will attainthe color of the earth as winter settles in.

Before I forget, December 2nd is the deadline forthe 2020 Master Gardener class.  Itbegins January 16th and runs to the end of March, total cost$85.  A deposit of $45 will hold yourposition in the class.  Each weekly classon a different subject will be taught in the Pottawatomie County Extension Centerat14001 Acme Road in Shawnee.  Contact273-7683 for more info.  Well worth becominga Master Gardener.

The last Cherokee Purple tomato has been eaten. The fruit was picked just before the freeze and allowed to ripen indoors.  Each bite was savored.  Will be a long time before the next fresh home-grown tomato!  The three eastern Asian Nandinas, on the other hand, also had every single red berry snipped off but all were put into the rubbish.  Nandina berries contain cyanides highly toxic to birds and animals.

Last of the season's harvest

Although the temperature plunged to 14 degrees, Charlotte #2is still hanging onto her west facing web outside the sunporch.  This orb weaver was larger than the younger Charlotte#1 who insisted on keeping her web low on the porch.  #1 lost her web twice during storms anddisappeared weeks ago.  Sob.  #2 spun her web in a protected, yet insectfilled area and has produced at least 2 egg sacks.  Will be interesting to see if she makes itthrough the winter.

The Leonid Meteor Shower is making its annual appearance,maybe.  Debris from the comet55P/Temple-Tuttle vaporizes in the Earth's atmosphere anywhere from November 6thto the 30th each year, maybe. The peak was predicted to be November 17th.  That evening, as darkness settled and themoon rose, I saw a small streaker zoom across the southwest.  The stars sparkled in the clear atmospherewith only a few clouds to the west.  Wentto bed.  At 4:30 am I struggled out ofbed, grabbed my coat and went outside to gaze at stars.  The brilliant moon overhead broke through thehigh cloud layer that covered the sky, the only heavenly things visible.  Back to bed. Before 6:00 am I once again left the warm bed, put on my robe and dashedoutdoors, hoping to see some pre-dawn shooting stars.  Still overcast and the moon was now setting.  Darn it. Reports are this year's Leonids were a dud, maybe.

Another meteor shower is scheduled for Thursday night (afterthis article was written). The Alpha Monoceratids (AMO) might arrive in ashort-lived burst of meteors (affectionately called a swarm) between 10:30 to11:00 pm.  AMO has produced dazzlingmeteor swarms in 1925, 1935, 1985 and 1995. We have great chances for rain, but if luck intercedes, I'll let youknow if it meteor-showered.

Spreading the hay

The Metro pipe line is in the final stages of completion.  Crews have been taking down the tall poles festooned with small multi-colored ragged flags that stood over entrances along roads.  The temporary fences and gates are being replaced with permanent structures.  The lumpy landscape is being leveled and covered with additional soil.  Seed and hay are being sprayed across the disturbed corridor of fields and pastures.  When asked what kind of seed, the response was 'seed.'  What will be the present and future impact of crisscrossing the area with so many buried pipelines?

Large semis hauling giant hall bales roar down backroads.  Tractors unload the hay and, two by two, thelarge balls are deposited along the pipeline. Another tractor hoists the hay balls onto this apparatus that feeds eachball into a roller that shoots out the hay like a giant lawnmower does grass. Controllingerosion of so much exposed earth.  I willsay that several of the workers were pretty cool people.

#2 Charlotte in late autumn

Another awesome hay ball sculpture has been erected on topof the hill.  The happy pilgrim awaitshis Thanksgiving meal with fork in one hand and knife in the other.  The winds have pivoted the knife a few times,but the tribute to Thanksgiving has stood firm. 

Days before Thanksgiving, a million years ago, I rememberbringing cans of food to Chestnut Street School in Wilmington, NorthCarolina.  The auditorium was stiflinghot and filled to the gills with students and teachers.  The Thanksgiving program was followed by eachof us walking up onto the stage and putting our donations into boxes.  The food would go to the needy.  The walk back home was through fallen leaveswhirled by crisp cool breezes. 

Thanksgivings at my parent's home were group events.  Relatives, friends and friends of friends were always welcome.  The card table was set up in the front room for overflow. New dishes appeared.  Neighbor Ludie Harrison brought her old-fashioned whipped cream salad with grapes and fruits.  Sweet potatoes swimming in juice, butter and brown sugar covered with hundreds of marshmallows were concocted by my cousin. Hominy bathed in cheese with green chilis showed up for the brother-in-law.  The mainstays were turkey, herb stuffing, gravy, potatoes, olives, rolls, cranberry salads and the green lime Jello thing with cottage cheese and pineapple.  It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it!  I tried to cut down the sugar in the pumpkin and pecan pies one year.  The first and last time.

Deadly Nandina berries

My husband remembers going to a family Thanksgiving inCalifornia anticipating his mom's type of herb dressing.  His aunt presented sausage and oysterdressings.  He never forgot thatThanksgiving.

When my family lived overseas, we invited single soldiersand others away from home this time of year. The cook stove in the UK was half the size of an American stove.  I pushed in sides and altered some pans toaccommodate the situation.  Staggeringthe time dishes were cooked became a creative endeavor.  Canned pumpkin and pecans had to be purchasedat the commissary since they weren't available on the economy. One Thanksgivingwe ate quite late.  Our village friendscame, but since it was a regular workday for them, we waited.

In Germany our neighbors were quite polite and sampled the foreign food, but appreciated the potatoes and turkey.  Germans are meat and potato people.  When people from the base came, they brought their typical dishes such as Chinese salad, spring rolls, enchiladas, lemon cake, deep-fried turkey, a variety of wines, and other dishes which added to the cultural richness of the day. 

Thanksgiving morning Ramstein AFB held the 'Turkey Trot' Volksmarchwhich skirted the perimeter of the base. Walk for miles while the food cooked, then laze away the afternoon eatingand chatting.  Always room for a turkeysandwich later and more pie.  We weremore stuffed than any turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving!