MAY 27, MONDAY: Memorial Day. Rachel Carson, "Silent Spring" author, born, 1907. Isadora Duncan born, 1878.
MAY 28, TUESDAY: Dionne quintuplets born, Ontario, 1934. Lilacs in bloom, New Hampshire.MAY 29, WEDNESDAY: Ember Day. Bob Hope born, 1903. John F. Kennedy born, 1917.
MAY 30, THURSDAY: First auto race on Indianapolis track, 1911. Benny Goodman born, 1909.
MAY 31, FRIDAY: Ember Day. Cast not a clout till May be out.
JUNE 1, SATURDAY: Full rose moon (two full moons this month!). Ember Day. National Dairy Month. Ragweed Control Month.
JUNE 2, SUNDAY: Trinity. Lou Gehrig died, 1941. Thomas Hardy born, 1840. P.T. Barnum's circus began U.S. tour, 1835.
Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: Are two full moons in a month considered unlucky?
- F.K., Congress, Ariz.
Answer: In some regions, it's believed that two full moons in a month increase the chance of flooding, that a pale full moon indicates rain, and a red full moon brings wind. A full moon on the "moon day" (Monday) is lucky, but a Saturday full moon, "if it comes once in seven years, comes all too soon." This month starts with a Saturday full moon (June 1), the full rose moon, and ends with a Friday full moon (June 30), the full strawberry moon.
The full moons are considered good times to consummate a marriage, however, making them prosperous and happy, and they're also considered good times to accept a proposal of marriage. "Tomcatting," whether for felines or humans, is expected to be most successful during the full moon, as virility is enhanced and fertility is at its peak. The full moon and following dark of the moon days are also good times to cut rail fences, sink fence posts, turn feather beds, dig horseradish, and go crabbing, shrimping or clamming.
Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: Is one flower more than any other traditional for decorating graves?
- R.H., Brookport, Ill.
Answer: Looking into our modern American churchyards, you might suspect that the artificial flower, usually in bright (then sadly sun-faded) red or yellow, has overtaken all others. Next to that, red geraniums are perhaps most common, probably for their hardiness. In the language and sentiment of flowers, however, the geranium is a symbol of comfort and not particularly associated with death or remembrance. In more ancient times the primrose was much more popular, because graves were often decorated around Easter time and the primrose was available in the wild, almost as early as the snow melted. Similarly, primroses symbolize youth, because they are earliest out in the spring. Daffodils, with their early blooms and bright spring color, have been another natural choice. They are an emblem of regret, probably because of their drooping flower heads. Robert Herrick (1591-1674) described the daffodil: "When a daffodil I see/Hanging down her head t'ward me,/Guess I may, what I must be;/First, I shall decline my head,/Secondly, I shall be dead,/Lastly, safely buried."
For longer-lasting growth, the rosemary bush or hedge is sometimes chosen, where it can withstand winters. It is selected for its sentiment of remembrance, and for its fragrance rather than its bloom.
Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: If I want to make my own salsa, what should I plant?
- T.Y., Metheun, Mass.
Answer: Salsa recipes are as varied as tomato sauces, but the basics should include two or three types of chilies - hot or mild, probably at least one jalapeno version, and maybe a red-hot habanero. The Shepherd's Garden (Torrington, Conn.) seed catalog offers a "Chili Hotness Scale" as a guide to picking the chilis that suit your taste buds. Authentic salsa also includes tomatillos, a Mexican tomato-like fruit that grows with a papery husk. The tomatoes for your salsa can be of almost any variety, or a combination. Cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes, or the larger beefsteak versions are all acceptable. Some recipes call for green, unripened tomatoes, which are usually easy to come by in New England climates. Try growing your own garlic and onions, as well.
This Week With The Old Farmer's Almanac
May 27 - June 2, 1996
Memorial Day, May 27.
Red Poppies and Peace
Since World War I, poppies have been a symbol of remembrance at Memorial Day, formerly Decoration Day. The red poppy was used to symbolized the blood of those who died in service to their countries. After World War I, veterans sold artificial red poppies to help raise money for French and Belgian war orphans. Today, donations to veterans' groups are often marked with a token paper red poppy. The crinkled crepe paper closely resembles the texture of the real poppy (Papaver), which is grown as a hardy annual or perennial. "In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row." - John McCrae
Soldiers in peace are like chimneys in summer.
Tip of the Week
To prolong poppies' life as a cut flower, plunge their stems in hot water after cutting.
2 scant cups sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon soda
3 cups flour (heaping)
3 eggs, separated and beaten
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup seeded raisins, chopped
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup currants, washed, dried, tossed in flour
Mix ingredients in order given, then drop by tablespoonsful onto buttered cookie sheets, allowing plenty of room for spreading. The finished hermits will be ragged, but toothsome. If you prefer, roll the dough into a rough rectangle, bake, then cut into squares before it cools. Bake 10 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees F, depending on the size of your cakes.
Makes about 1-1/2 dozen squares.
The Old Farmer's Weather Proverbs
A dripping June brings all things in tune.
If the pigs are carrying straw in their mouths, look for high winds.
Rainbow at morn, put your hook in the corn.
Special Offer: Handy chart full of interesting weather proverbs. Send $3 to Weather Chart, Dept. UF, The Old Farmer's Almanac, Box 520, Dublin, NH 03444.