January 1st HEMLOCK
This is not, by the way, the same hemlock as the infamous poison hemlock of Socrates' day. That is an entirely different plant; an herb of the parsley family more easily mistaken for Queen Anne's Lace than the tall forest conifer described here.
Although attractive and evergreen, hemlock boughs are rarely used for garlands or wreaths because the needles fall off in a very short time. This I found out by experience several years back after carefully constructing a twenty four foot garland to hang the length of our house inside above the windows. Within a week or two the needles were scattered all over the place. It was a good thing we had salvaged the old Electrolux that my grandmother was tossing out.
A guest once mentioned that he thought it rather incongruous that we should have a vacuum cleaner here in the woods, but we use it often. It is impossible not to track in all sorts of forest debris, especially in mud season. And of course with the woodstove there is always a mess of wood splinters and bark. Cleaning it up is considerably easier than trying to keep it out in the first place.
January 2nd TOAST
We have to protect the house and ourselves as well, so on cold nights like this we generally find a good book and try to stay up as late as possible. The reasoning behind this is that once we go to sleep there's nobody there to keep feeding the fire. We decided in addition to a good book, a bottle of our homemade dandelion wine, Sunshine in a Bottle, was in order. We toasted Baron William Thomson Kelvin and Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit. We would have toasted Mr. Celsius too, but apparently there isn't one. The 1943 edition of the Funk & Wagnalls that we use defines celsius as the centigrade thermometer or scale; common but erroneous use. The 1997 World Almanac begs to differ. They state on page 605 that Although the term centigrade is still frequently used, the International Committee on Weights and Measures and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have recommended since 1948 that this scale be called Celsius. In either case, no mention of a Mr. Celsius was made.
January 3rd STRANGE SNOW
(Use the arrow above the illustration to advance to the next page)