Saturday, January 22, 2011

Book Sales

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The last week of January is typically the coldest week in Vermont with some sub zero temperatures and wind that makes chickadees turn into horizontal dots trying to land on our bird feeders and get some breakfast. Today is not part of the last week but it is not only cold at -6 degrees, but it is getting colder over the next three days. I truly feel badly for folks with economic difficulties because to me there is nothing like cold. Cold is what I experienced as a kid and living with wood stoves and seeing your breath at night as you jumped into bed were things I said I would never do again. Today a have a nice Hearthstone stove by choice and I love the stove and the associated wood cutting and splitting but no longer do I see my breath when I'm inside my house. Unfortunately, lots of people still do.

Small town Vermont is a great place to live and in our town like many in New England, the town library has become the community center. We have a small library but it offers super service, lots of smiles and excellent programs on a weekly basis. I think it costs more than many in town can afford but that's something that we get to vote on every year on Town Meeting Day.

This time of year the library holds a book sale and it's quite an event. Books that need to be moved along from limited library shelves are joined by books that townspeople bring in and the event raises a wee bit of money for the library and moves a bunch of reading material around. The books that are left go to a recycler and although I don't know where they go, I do know they go to readers someplace else in the world.

Gail has been helping with the sale for several years. It may be a dusty chore but it is full of laughter and good stories and she wouldn't miss it. The helpers also get the opportunity to scan the books first and Gail always comes home with something of interest for me. Yesterday it was The Owls of North America and Beginners Guide to Wild Flowers.

Wild flowers is a topic that I have been fond of since as a little kid I was responsible for entertaining myself and I spent a lot of time in the woods. Today people would be sending rescue squads out to find me but back then at age 6 I walked into the woods and always got back hours later. I don't ever remember crying to myself but I do remember getting lost. Today Gail always asks how we can never get lost no matter where we go in the woods but always get lost in a city. I simply tell her that there aren't as many trees in a city.

Books have always been my companion and gardening books mean a lot to me. As I opened Beginners Guide To Wild Flowers, 6th Impression, 1948, by G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, written by Ethel Hinckley Hausman, I randomly found Dutchman's Pipe at the top left page.

Dutchman's Pipe is a plant I have never grown and never will. I can't say that I never liked it because its vining habit and big leaves cover arbors and give a nice effect which has impressed me. The price has always been too expensive to buy in quantity and until recent years few gardeners requested it. I think people have seen it enough now that they are interested in it but I still won't carry it for sale.

This is an interesting plant, known as birthwort from the days when it was used in herbal medicine. All parts of the plant are poisonous so one would wonder about the merits of using a poison to deliver a newborn but stranger things have happened in this world. Insects are attracted to the less than fragrant smell from the flowers and some say that so insects actually become poisonous themselves from their consumption of pollen and nectar.

Apparently Ms. Hausman thought enough of the plant to include it in her book but modern day writers mention its invasive character and suggest using other plants. If you like large leaved plants like I do you still might give it a try but for me, a picture from an old book is just fine.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where my neighbor just went by with her dog, Jelly, perhaps walking quickly because -6 degrees really is frosty!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
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1 comment:

Bren said...

Your adventure at the library sounds like fun. I've been wanting to visit up in the North East States and hope to do that some time soon. I'm adding a few of your libraries to my 'must see list' while touring. Nothing better then seeing how the natives live every day it seems like this maybe a place to start.

Thanks for sharing and I enjoy following your Twitter shares - that is where I followed this link from.

BG_Garden on twitter.