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Tea Party Winners: Vicki Talley McCollum's Never Say Goodbye, A National Park Romance novella goes to: Caryl Kane, Deanne Patterson, Deana Dick, Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners Beverly Duell-Moore and Cindy Pratt, Roseanna White's winners - Betti Mace, Gabrielle Meyer's winners -, Deb Marvin's paperback winner - Rachel Dodson

Monday, May 19, 2014

Seasons of Yesteryear

The seasons of yesteryear, to our ancestors, were not so much about three month blocks of time, but were really defined month to month. Each month brought critical change to how they coped with survival.

And though the month of May might have brought Maypoles and baskets of flowers, it was also a month of growth and renewal - and the season of the plow. After months of breathing stale, smoky air, the smell of the freshly turned earth made the toil of plowing bearable.

Almanacs from colonial times advised, "In May your Indian corn must be planted. This is the basic chore and the field work of the year." Corn to the colonists meant grain from wheat, oats or any grass that bore kernels. Thus they called the kernels on the main crop of the Native American's, corn.

It's interesting to note that corn, left on its own, will not reseed. It requires proper planting, a few seeds in a hill of dirt, for the kernels to survive and propagate.

In addition to plowing, May was the season to collect pole wood. And though it might be used for a Maypole, it also would be used to make brooms for spring cleaning, among other things.

Other "woodlot chores" in May would include gathering splintwood for baskets and barrel hoops. Black ash, hickory and white oak were commonly used and after cutting into splints, they were kept in running water, which helped keep them soft and ready for pounding.

How to make a yellow birch broom:  find one yellow birch sapling, peel off the bark and cut into a pole. Splinter one end upward. Make cuts in the middle to splinter downward. Fold the middle splinters downward and tie around the lower splinters.

Rebecca's debut novel, A PLACE IN HIS HEART, is a historical romance based
on Mary and Barnabas Horton, Rebecca’s ninth great-grandparents. Set in 1600’s Southold, Long Island, book one of The Southold Chronicles releases June 3rd. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and when not writing, she enjoys faith, family, genealogy, travel, reading, running, baking and gardening. Rebecca is represented by Greg Johnson of WordServe Literary Agency.








8 comments:

  1. Lovely article, Rebecca! Am reading your book right now and enjoying it! I may have to pass on making my own broom this year, though ;)

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    1. thank you, Carrie - you are a sweetheart! Glad you're enjoying the book!

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  2. A very informative post, Rebecca, and a good reminder of how we take the ease of accessing our household tools for granted.

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  3. I truly enjoyed that article. I can't wait to read the book. I had no idea that it was so personal to you. I love trips through early Colonial life. I really enjoy Jamestown Settlement and Plymouth Plantation visits. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I had no idea that "corn" could be so many things.

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    1. Hi, Dora! Thanks for stopping by! I love visiting the colonial settlements, too - wish I lived closer!

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  4. Rebecca, really enjoyed your article. My mother would love one of those birch brooms.
    Blessings,Tina

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    1. Thank you, Mrs. Tina!! I think it would be fun to have the broom, but can't help thinking how sore my fingers would be if I had to make all of those splices! I imagine our colonial ancestors had huge callouses, though, so maybe their fingers would get tired, but not so tender. :o)

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  5. Thanks, Janet! You're right - it gives us food for thought about what "inconvenience" is - like when I think arrrgg I need to drive 15 min. to Walmart to pick up something :o) At least I don't have to make it!

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