“In winter’s cold and sparkling snow
The garden in my mind does grow.
I look outside to blinding white,
And see my tulips blooming bright.
And over there a sweet carnation,
Softly scents my imagination.
On this cold and freezing day,
The Russian sage does gently sway,
And miniature roses perfume the air,
I can see them blooming there.
Though days are short, my vision’s clear.
And through the snow, the buds appear.
In my mind, clematis climbs,
And morning glories do entwine.
Woodland phlox and scarlet pinks,
Replace the frost, if I just blink.
My inner eye sees past the snow.
And in my mind, my garden grows.”
– Cynthia Adams
It is a dreary February day, with rain dropping from a gray winter sky and trying to turn to snow. It would be easy to slip into winter doldrums and let the grayness overtake you, but my friend Mary reminds me, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalms 118-24) Each day should be valued and lived to its fullness—whether cold and dreary, or warm and sunny.
Yet, in our mind’s eye, we can see a springtime scene, with flowers blooming and soft, velvety grass underfoot. We can daydream about it, but one day soon it will be a reality. The Bible says “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” It seems that the longer a person waits for something; the sweeter it is when it finally appears.
February has always been a gloomy month, muddy and depressing, with leftover snow and soggy ground. Icicles hang from rock cliffs, and melt into sodden piles along the ditch line. It is the shortest month to feel like the longest. Blessed are the ones (like me!) who can stay indoors and watch the songbirds at their smorgasbord through the window.
February is an in-between month, spanning the gulf between winter and spring. Sometimes it leans toward wintry weather, with record snowfalls and sub-zero temperatures, and other times it reaches a tentative hand toward spring. It seems that after Groundhog Day, all signs point toward spring—and six weeks do pass swiftly. February is the traditional month when we dig the pungent sassafras root for tea. When the fragrance of sassafras drifts through the house, it sooths a winter-weary spirit and warms the body the body with a delicious age-old tonic.
Mom always told us that it thins the blood and tones the body after the dull days of winter. Even if it has no beneficial effect, I drink it because it is purely delicious. The freezing rain and intermittent snowflakes puts a damper on digging sassafras roots right now, but harvest time will come.
My Cousin Bobby (also known as Frank Sheldon Monroe Samples) writes from warmer Florida, “My mother (my Aunt Vanna) used to say an old quote from an unidentified author that has been in my thoughts from time to time. It went like this, ‘The mills of God grind slowly . . . but they grind exceedingly small.’ I wonder who wrote it?”
I, like a lot of other folks, once attributed this quotation to the Bible, but that is not where it originated. It is from the ancient Greek, translated as, “The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind small.” It was translated by Longfellow as this, “Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience He stands waiting, With exactness grinds He all.”
There are other quotations that mean basically the same thing. My sister Jeannie uses the phrase, “What goes around, comes around.” Or, we can say, “It is Karma.” When we see an injustice done, and long to do something about it, you can be sure that somewhere along the line, it will catch up with the wrongdoer. When the Bible says, “Be sure your sins will find you out,” you can rest assured that it will come to pass.
A reader from Elkview sent me a couple of recipes, which would be good on these cold winter days. One was for Shoofly Pie, which I have made and received mixed reviews for it. The other was for Apple Pan Dowdy, which I plan to make in the near future. Do you remember the old song, “Shoofly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy?” “Makes your eyes light up and your tummy say, ‘Howdy,’ Shoofly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy, Oh, I never get enough of that wonderful stuff!”
This is probably a Pennsylvania Dutch dessert, and it sounds delicious.
APPLE PAN DOWDY
Sauce: ¼ cup Bisquick
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter
Cobbler: 5 cups peeled, sliced apples
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ cups Bisquick
1/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 8-inch square casserole dish
Sauce: In pan, combine first five sauce ingredients and cook over low heat; stirring until thick and clear. Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter. Set aside.
Cobbler: Place apples in prepared dish, sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Combine the 1 ½ cups Bisquick with the milk and spoon over the apples. Sprinkle with additional sugar and spices, if desired. Pour sauce over all. Bake at 400 degrees about 35 minutes. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
Around the corner, we can see that Cupid has his bow and arrow aimed at a likely target, as Valentine’s Day approaches. This is a traditional day to declare your love to your sweetheart, companion, wife or husband. It is a day of flowers and candy, Valentine cards and gifts. It is not gifts that mean the most, however. My husband shows his love in a different way. Each morning he gets up and cooks breakfast, complete with hot biscuits, while I stay snuggled in bed just a little while longer. What more could a wife want?
We have scripture for a happy marriage in Ecc. 9-9, “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which He hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labor which thou takest under the sun.”
Here is a more modern piece of advice from Ogden Nash:
A WORD TO HUSBANDS
To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.