I was sitting in a parking lot a few weeks back waiting for my wife and reading the Farmer's Almanac to while away the time. As I've explained before, she gives me a copy of the Almanac for Christmas every year and I usually find some meaningful information in it that I feel obligated to pass along, mostly stuff about fishing, but occasionally some real wisdom, such as the names already selected for 2004 hurricanes. Alex will be the first, followed by Bonnie and, if it's all the same with you, that should be enough.
I also found a page advertising a book with all sorts of useful information in it, such as amazing ingredients to use to repair a cracked windshield.
And of course the Almanac provides plenty of information on what kind of weather we can expect. After perusing the outlook for our region I discovered that most of the forecasts include phrases like: temperatures and rainfall slightly above or slightly below normal. I found none that predicted a particular month would be hotter than the pits of Hades or wetter than the bottom of that trough somewhere in the Pacific that's supposed to be the deepest hole in the ocean.
I'd like to see Almanacists (sic) go out on a limb once in a while and indicate that, say, May will be “a frog strangler (See ark plans on page 47).” Or maybe that “July will be so hot and dry that spit will evaporate before it hits the pavement, even when inundated with a Redman chaw.”
You don't get that kind of colorful prediction. Slightly above, slightly below, average or about the same as usual, has to suffice. So I'll not bother passing along that information, assuming that if there's some really interesting weather coming you'd just as soon not have the surprise value spoiled beforehand.
Still, the Almanac offers valuable insights into things we hardly ever think we need insights about. For instance, weeds may be an interesting source of vitamins. A brief article listed yellow dock, lambs quarter, chickweed, purslane, and wild mustard as edible.
The one that got my attention, however, was a reference to “poke salet.” One of the first paying jobs I remember when I was a country kid was picking poke early in the spring for my Aunt Allie.
Aunt Allie was a short woman, about as wide as she was tall, a bit eccentric but good-hearted. She and Uncle Henry would show up the first or second weekend in March at my grandparents' farm. Aunt Allie would contract with me to pick her some poke leaves, with which she would make a salad, and which I never ate.
I'd earn a quarter for a grocery sack full of poke leaves, collected in an hour or two from the woods behind my grandparents' house. Aunt Allie always did a quality control check before I got paid, culling out the bigger leaves, which she claimed were too tough to be palatable. “Not fitten to eat,” I think is the way she put it.
Sometimes the bulging grocery sack would shrink to several hands full of tiny leaves. But I still got my quarter.
I actually used to eat another wild green, which we knew as creasie. It may have been cressie, or kreesie or kriesie. I never saw it spelled out, so it could be any number of edible greens common in the South.
Creasy tasted a bit like tender spinach leaves and I'd nibble on them sometimes when I was fishing. It seemed to prefer low, moist places, which were conveniently located near my best fishing holes. My grandfather used to “wilt” it with hot fatback grease before eating it, likely with a half-dozen hot peppers on top.
Some undocumented information suggests eating wild greens as a good way to “purge” your system in the spring. Anytime we started purging, however, my mom just dosed us with a bait of castor oil and halted that process as rapidly as possible. She didn't have much patience with five kids all in a purge at the same time.
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