There are four lucky days in February, and today, the 26th, isn’t one of them. They are, the 10th, the 19th, the 27th, and the 28th.
It’s Cabbage Month! The time of year when kale sprouts shoot up out of the ground, although, I haven’t seen any yet. It is said that February was named Sprout Kale over a thousand years ago, by the Saxon’s, who knew only winter and summer. They followed the stars, and changes in the moon, to guide them through the days, and months, of the year, when the calendar wasn’t what it is today. Autumn and spring, as distinct seasons didn’t exist. To the Saxons, time only mattered, in so far as what the weather could produce for the land, and consequently, for man’s sustenance. Weather was Time!
Before February slips away I want to highlight some interesting historical births, and deaths that took place during the month of Sprout Kale.
For one, Queen Anne was born on the 6th, in 1667, and Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded in 1587.
On the 12th, of 1809 Abe Lincoln came into the world, in a log cabin in the backwoods. Modern school lessons make such a fuss over famous people who lived in a log cabin, which seems a trivial fact when most people in the 18th century were born in a log cabin. Log cabins were actually some of the best built buildings of the time, and many are still standing today. As we all know, Abe ended up in the White House, before he was fatefully slain by John Wilkes Booth, while watching a play at the Ford Theatre, in Washington D.C.
On the 15th of 1564, the genius Galileo Galilei was born in the town of Pisa, on the western coast of Italy. As a scholar he taught at the University of Padua, near Venice. To many, his idea that the earth was round, and moved around the sun were considered preposterous. “Yet in the end he had to die for it; for when men are ignorant, great truths seem dangerous, and the man who offers them a new idea is the greatest danger of all.” Sad to say, still happens today.
On the 22nd in 1732, George Washington was born. He was the General that put into action the desire for independence of the colonies. He became the first president, of the United States. When he died, the whole nation mourned. He is so famous!
Finally, on the 23rd in 1915, my father, Richard Pierre, was born, under the sign of Pisces. Though not so famous, to me he matters more.
February, will end in a couple of days. One of my favorite months. For one, it’s the month of Valentines, where we share cards and loving sentiments with friends, and families, and lovers. For another, I like the way the word sounds when it is spoken, and the letters that spell it out. I’m always happy February is here, and when it’s gone I feel a sense of melancholy, and dread for what’s to come. March will enter like a lion, and go out like a lamb.
What I take away in February is to be loving and charitable in thoughts and actions, to all, for nothing else matters, but the way in which we share with our brethren, irregardless of color, or kind. Before I say I am not prejudiced, I will look around, wherever my days take me, and ask myself, ‘Whom do I see?’ and I will think twice, and twice again.
Now, on this blustery day of February, the sun shines while light snow settles on the ground. I can hear the gusts of wind that pick up outside, and feel their strength as the windows shake throughout the house, as if a storm were brewing in the West. Maybe warm weather will come, and we will find cabbage sprouting in the garden, or kale. But, really now, who in their right mind likes kale? Personally, I’d rather have chocolate cake!
In remembrance of my dad, whose birthday would be today, I am posting a story my daughter wrote at age 11. It was a school assignment. He would be honored to know that his name survives in print, and that his memory lives on in the minds of those that loved him. Here it is.
October 22, ‘97
Likes to travel
Seeing new things,
Meeting new people
He has so much fun.
When we visit
We talk a lot
And learn new things
About his great life.
I am so glad he’s coming!!
Tracing My Grandfather’s Footsteps
Written By: Carolina Marie Bravo
Can you believe my grandfather fought in World War II? He was in Germany. He took a ship, the Queen Mary across the Atlantic Ocean on December 31, 1944. He was excited to take the big trip because he really wanted to see Europe. While he was in Europe he kept a very detailed diary that he set aside time to write in practically every day and some days he wrote more than one time.
Richard Pierre Rivard was born on February 23, 1915. He was the youngest of his siblings that include 3 brothers, Louis, John and Raymond, and his 1 sister, Louise. They grew up in a small village in Wisconsin called Turtle Lake.
Just like me my grandfather had chores. My grandfather’s parents owned a dairy farm where they had several cows. My grandfather milked his parent’s cows. My grandfather and his siblings had to milk the cow every morning before school.
Other than selling milk my great grandparents had jobs. My great grandfather, Louis Honoré Rivard, was a real estate agent and sold land, and also owned and ran a lumber mill. My great grandmother, Alma Rose DuBois, owned and ran a boarding house.
During my grandfather’s childhood he dressed very simply. When he was about 18 months old he wore a white dress, black leather shoes and tights. As he grew into a young child he dressed in bib overalls with a plaid shirt.
My grandpa says that school was very hard for him. He says that he was a slow learner. His 7thand 8thgrade teacher Mrs. Calhoon was his favorite teacher.
My grandfather played some of the same games that I play today like Hide and Seek. He also played a game that I had never heard of before called Run Sheep Run. In the winter he would skate on the mill pond (his father’s lumber mill). During the summer he would go swimming in Horse Shoe lake that was about 5 miles from Grandpa’s house. He also played baseball and basketball on the school teams.
Since there was no TV, my grandfather had to keep himself occupied. In his early years he read and listened to phonographs. Later on, when the radio was invented he also listened to the radio. When he was all grown up with kids he got his first television.
In my grandfather’s childhood things were very cheap. He could buy many things for a nickel such as an ice cream cone, a candy bar, a quart of milk or a pie. For 15 cents he could buy a gallon of gasoline or malt and milk. Popcorn was 88 cents, a loaf of bread was 9 cents, a pound of meat or chicken was a quarter, Bib overalls were about $3 along with a wooden toy train. All he really ate was meat or chicken with potatoes for dinner and pancakes for breakfast.
My grandfather celebrated holidays just like my family does today. In fact he celebrated many of the same holidays I do, but in some cases in very different ways. Christmas is the same except he would go to midnight mass where we go to earlier mass. He has the exchanging of presents with his family just like I do. On the 4thof July there were no parades nor fireworks. Memorial Day was also the same, along with Thanksgiving. When you get to Halloween it’s a bit of a different story. He definitely did not go to gather treats in costume. My grandfather would go out and tip over outhouses. Can you believe it?
My grandfather was about 15 years old during the Great Depression. He was also alive during World War I but since he was only about 4 years old he vaguely remembers it. World War II is a vivid memory for him. He was in Europe from approximately December, 1944 to October, 1945. He fought in many battles including the Battle of the Bulge*. Last year my cousin Paul kindly typed up my grandfather’s wonderful diaries and made copies for all my uncles, aunts and my mother. Today he shares this precious gift along with all the memories and stories he tells.
After the war he went to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and received his law degree. Then on November 4th, 1946 he married my grandmother, Mary Geraldyne Severance. They moved to Glenwood City, Wisconsin that is about 30 miles away from Turtle Lake.
They now have seven children excluding the youngest, Thomas who died shortly after birth. (From oldest to youngest) the children’s names are Andre, Roland, Michelle, Louis, Francis, Georgianna 9my mother) and Raymond. My grandfather has 16 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Since my grandfather retired he spends his summers in Wisconsin and winters in Texas.
My grandfather had favorite things just like me. He said he loved most foods but corn on the cob was one of his all-time favorites and still is. His favorite song was “As Time Goes By.” His favorite sport has always been baseball. A couple of his best friends in his childhood were Harold Kelly and Bill O’Connor.
My grandfather would not change much were he to live his life again. He would have liked to have made more money but otherwise he believes he did all he wanted to do or could do and therefore he is happy. If he were to leave anything from his past it would be his beautiful videos about his family and trips. He would also like to leave the diaries of his travels, the war and his many adventures. He thinks his favorite memories are of his wonderful vacations with his family, particularly the trip to Mexico when my mother was in the third grade.
My grandfather has lived a very interesting life. He is a very special person to everyone. He is special to me because he makes me laugh, tells me lots of stories and he has lots of videos of when I was little. I am going to read his diaries that he has typed to learn about the war and the many trips I have heard about. This is what my grandpa says when he gets back from the war; “I am home, this is the new life, the future is before me and a measure of peace and contentment settles over me as the days of travel and danger end and I can again look to the future.”
*May not be true.
Once upon a time, there was a Count, who lived in the reign of Granada, in Andalucía. His name was Lucanor. Whenever Lucanor had a perplexing issue in his life, he knew he could go to Patrón, his faithful and wise councilor, for good advice. Well, it happened one early morning, in the courtyard, where sweet birds sing, and the soft warm breeze sends the fragrant aroma of orange blossoms into the air, that the Count was face to face with his Patrón, and said to him:
“Patrón, a very powerful and illustrious man, who professes to be my friend has made me a proposition.” “Yes”, said the wise council, “Tell me more.” “Very well,” replied the Count. “You see, this rich man told me in secret, a few days ago, that for certain reasons he wanted to leave this kingdom, never to return again, and because he had such trust in me, and regarded me with great affection, he wanted to sell to me a part of his land, and leave the rest in my care. Well, I was quite flattered and honored to have inspired this man, but before I made a decision, I wanted to hear your opinion, on the matter.”
The Patrón responded: “Quite an interesting story my dear friend. I believe my advice is not lacking to you, but since you wanted me to tell you what I think, I shall give you my opinion, at this very moment. In the first place I must warn you that this man, whom you believe to be your friend is testing you. There is a similar case. Something that happened to a king with his minister.”
TO BE CONTINUED…
Queen Anne was born February 6th, in 1665.
If anyone has ever seen the new movie called “The Favourite” it will make you wonder about the life Queen Anne led. That is if I have the same Queen Anne. The movie is a bit wild. Queen Anne’s relationships with her two ladies in waiting, and the jealousy that ensues between them, is what truly attracts the viewer to the theatre. One of the maidens is banished, chased into exile, and left for dead, when she falls from her horse, and is dragged, and trampled along the trail. Anne had a long relationship with this first maiden. They corresponded in writing frequently, within the castle walls. It was kind of like texting. She was her confidant, for many years. Then, the second one arrived to the castle, as a cleaning woman. Sympathy is stirred for her in the scene, where she burns her hands with lye soap, with which she cleans the chamber floors. Of royal blood she manipulates her way into the queen’s favor, and in the mind of Anne, becomes her favorite. Although cruel, and sinister at heart, the second maiden covers her evilness with good deeds, when it means she will get her way. Anne is a lonely queen. She lost all of her children and couldn’t bare the emotional pain. Her second lady in waiting jumps to the queen’s command. To maintain her center of power maiden #2 puts up with the queen’s fits of despair. Anne realizes her second maiden is less genuinely concerned for her well-being, but depends on her to perform explicit sexual manipulation. For Anne, the pleasure principal is the only thing that frees her from the anguish she has at losing all her children, and from her own miserable existence. Apparently Hollywood took liberty to extrapolate the lesbian theme, for there is nothing concretely written to say that Anne had an amorous relationship with her maidens. After seeing the movie I came across this silly verse about when she was born, and the gossip surrounding her death.
Queen Ann is – Pho!
That’s easy said!
Who doesn’t know
Queen Anne is dead?
Nay, gossip, nay,
Abate your scorn!
Learn that to-day
Queen Anne is born.
Another queen died on the 8th of February, 80 years later. She was the elegant, and legendary, Mary Queen of Scots!
I am an invisible man. No I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a person of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids – and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, do you get that? Because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you sometimes see in sideshows.
Ralph Ellison “The Invisible Man” 1947
I see gray stone walls covered with snow, like powdered sugar sprinkled on a cake, or two – They guard the forest of bare spindly trees, rising out of the icy wetlands. Birds sing a distant song. The piercing caw of a hawk startles me, in my tracks. I am jolted from my thoughts. Along the path, my eye catches a plastic bag, adrift in a thawing rivulet. Out of place, it’s pinned against the cement of a tiny culvert’s aperture. My mind returns to the faces, and places, strewn across my table, at home.
Another day, in a sheltered corner garden, a grouping of small green vegetation, pokes out of the earth. The stage is set, for the tiny players. Warm, and cold currents, exist at odds, with one another. Incompatible snow will come, and smother these sprouts that appear to be Eve’s snowdrops.
I have heard a legend, but I don’t know where it comes from, that the snow fell on Eve when she left Paradise. Out of the snow an Angel appeared to her, who took a handful of snowflakes, breathed on them, and let them fall at her feet, where they turned into flowers that did not grow even in Paradise. The Angel said, ‘This is in earnest to thee and to Adam that the sun will follow the snow.’ Then he vanished; and Eve, comforted, gathered her first snowdrops.
My snowdrops rest in waiting, for an Angel to come.
Today is a Holy Day. It is also Ground Hog day. All the Christmas decorations are down, all around. Once in awhile you will see a decoration, here and there. Maybe they left it up for this day, that last day of Christmastide. It is said, if you haven’t taken your decorations down by the 5th of January, the day before the Epiphany, than you should keep them up until February 2nd. I didn’t put up any decorations this year, so it’s all the same to me.
Today, Candlemas, is a festival of candles to symbolize the presentation of Jesus Christ at the temple. 40 days after the birth of a son the mother is allowed to bring their babe to the temple. It’s an old Jewish tradition, based on the silly notion that women were not pure enough until this passing of time to come before God. 60 days when it’s a baby girl! Sounds like women control to me. But, oh well!
Both Ground Hog Day and Candlemas Day mark the mid point between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. It’s still not up above freezing, but we gained 5 minutes of light in the last two days. That’s progress. Little by little we will see more light of day. Keep the candles burning!
Today is the first of February, and it’s time to celebrate. There was noticeably more daylight, even yesterday, the last day of January. In fact, there were 45 minutes more daylight yesterday, than the last day of December, and now, days will only get longer, and longer. Before we know it the growing season will arrive. February is the month of Valentines, when tiny snowdrops are due to emerge, and those sprightly crocuses pop up, if the temperatures rise. With a polar vortex blowing down our neck it seems impossible that anything could grow, but more daylight can do wonders, for all those seeds filled with life, lying dormant, under the snow. I, for one, am happy to turn the page of my new calendar.