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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Signs Of Spring

Photo compliments of Al and Kelly)

Well, Another year and I slept right through spring again. It officially arrived at 4:44 AM. I fullly intended to get up but didn't. Another thing I can blame on my old age.

The first day of spring set me to thinking about all the work we did to get the ground prepared for planting when we were growing up.

Before winter was over we would plant the tobacco bed so the plants would be ready to set in the late spring. Always at the end of the bed there was a bed of lettuce sown. The canvas cover and the first warm spring days acted like a hot house and before you knew it we would have a nice crop of lettuce. After a long winter of eating canned foods that early lettuce was always a spring treat. We also planted lettuce in the garden so we were able to enjoy it longer.

Another spring treat was being able to walk barefoot in the freshly plowed ground. All our plowing and planting was done with horses. After the plowing was done, came the harrowing, the disking, the rocking, the dragging, the laying off and finally the planting. It was hard work but we didn't think of it as that. It was a necessity in order to have food on the table for the next year. It was always fun to watch for the bits of green as the plants came shooting up through the ground.

After the spring rains came you could always find us sloshing through the fields down by the creek looking for frogs or fish or gathering a boquet of spring flowers. Wherever the mud was was where you would find us.

Sometimes we would go out foraging for different kinds of plants to cook for greens. There would be dandelion shoots, colt's foot, pokeberry, plantain, lamb's quarters and dock. We would have a whole sack full of these. My mother would clean them and cook them up and we would have greens and cornbread for supper.

Another plant we would gather would be creases which were kind of a dry land water cress (DK). They usually grew in the tobacco fields or corn patches and as soon as the snow was gone you would see them begin to appear. You would also see all the neighbors out in the fields gathering the creases. Burlap sacks full of them. Some for eating today and some for canning.

Creases are flat to the ground and are thin leafed. Those are the kind you wanted to gather. The other kind were broad leafed and bitter when cooked. The old timers called them "He" creases and "She creases". You wanted to be sure to get the "she" ones. You also had to be sure to get them when they were young before they started to bud out to bloom. You would take a knife and cut them right off at the ground leaving the root. Shake out all the leaves and dirt.

After you got your sack of creases home you would cut out the center with your knife and put all the leaves in the big dishpan and rinse them to get all the grit out. You had to wash them three or four times to make sure the grit was gone. Then they went into the big stewpot with some water and you parboil them for probably half hour or so. You then take a skillet and fry a few pieces of streak-ed meat or side pork to get grease then you put your creases in the grease and fry them up until they are tender.

A bowl of creases, a little vinegar, some soupbeans and fried taters and a hunk of cornbread and you have yourself a mighty fine dinner. Even the king would want to sit at your table.

Today, you can find creasey greens in the supermarket in the canned vegetable section but they're not as good as the "pick your own" kind.

That's it for today.


Speedy said...

We had a garden and I remember the fresh vegies from it. Sherri and I worked ourselves to death on that garden...but it was worth it. Too bad we had to work full time jobs besides...makes gardening that much harder..

Joe and Sherri

Leno said...

Very interesting Jenny. Boy you sure did alot of work as a kid. I bet it was fun though..such memories.

Gordon Pierce said...

Jenny J.

Thanks for the wonderful Spring memories!!!

Your friends moving through Texas,

Gordon and Juanita