By MIKE WEST
Are we in the middle of Red Bud Winter?
I reckon so. That little drop in temperature late last week was accompanied with by the beautiful pinkish red blossoms of the red bud trees so plentiful in our Cannon County countryside.
So what's next?
That blast of white that accompanies my favorite, Dogwood Winter.
Of course, there's scientific explanations for colors highlighting pring in Tennessee, but I prefer to think of the five winters which were once common knowledge shared around the pot-bellied stoves of country stores.
Red bud Winter: early April
Dogwood Winter: late April
Locust Winter: early May
Blackberry Winter: mid May
Long-handles Winter: late May
We called that last winter Stump Winter because an old stump or two might by the only wood left for the woodstove or fireplace that late in the season.
My grandparents followed the signs on their calendars usually provided by a seed company or the old Bank of Commerce in Woodbury.
Those calendars were placed in a prominent spot close to the kitchen door. Youngsters, especially grandsons, didn't dare touch them. It was best not to even look at them closely. If you did, the calendars were a mystery full of all sorts of information like the moon signs.
Moon signs? Yes sir! Going by the signs of the moon are the only way of having a successful garden season.
Nowadays, the old Farmers Almanac is the favorite way of charting that sort of thing. The moon calendar tells you which days to avoid (barren days), the best time to kill weeds and the best days to plant root crops or above-ground plants like tomatoes.
This year's calendar says that April 23 and 24 are the most fruitful days of the month. (So keep that in mind, if you plan on growing tomatoes.)
Of course, truly dedicated gardeners already have seeds growing into plants on their window sills. Folks like me are still just pondering the situation.
Generally, my "crop" is usually just tomatoes and peppers, but this year we are expanding not unlike my waistband. Bad knees and a fat belly don't work too well when it comes to gardening. And no self-respecting gardener can sit on his hind-end while working the soil. That mean's something has got to give. So where's my gardening stool?
Thank goodness (?) the grand kids are more than ready to help out. Trouble is the oldest ones are just to the age when you can trust them to fetch water. And the young ones ... well, you better watch out for your toes when the start swinging that hoe.
But the excitement of those youngsters is catching so we are gardening.
Now if I can only convince them that a 3-foot by 5-food garden is plenty big! (And keep the missus from buying all those seeds).
I'll be reporting back.