Go low…


It’s springtime after all…

It’s time to leave your hi tech paraphernalia and entertainment gadgetry back in the house. Spring weather is starting to call us out and go get some of that good old Mother Earth under our fingernails.

The first day of spring slipped by quietly last week, but I hope by now you have experienced the warming sun of our first spring-like days. After all, as the old saying goes… March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.

Only a few weeks ago we were knee deep in snow. This week the stubby, green blades of the tulips are already pushing themselves up through the soil. Margaret Atwood, Canadian author and environmentalist, once said, “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

But springtime has also spawned a few very bizarre celebrations around the world, well beyond the simple delights of gardening and pruning. Consider these:

  • A 500 year old tradition in Poland welcomes spring by drowning somebody in the river. Actually, it’s a hay-stuffed doll named Marzanna who symbolizes the cold, dreary winter being washed away.
  • In Switzerland, in another five century old tradition, a straw and paper snowman is burned at the stake as soon as the first flowers bloom. But just to make sure winter gets a good sendoff, the snowman is stuffed with explosives. Not exactly “…out like a lamb.”
  • Then there’s the “Whuppity Scoorie” in Lanark, Scotland. It’s a tradition so old, nobody knows how it got started, but it is supposed to rid the town of evil spirits so spring can begin. Children run around the town’s ringing church bell swinging crumpled paper balls around their heads at sunset on the first of March. Welcome Springtime!

But of course, we highly civilized Americans are above such odd and pagan springtime traditions, aren’t we?

Except, maybe, for that furry creature named Punxsutawney Phil, which some of us seem to think has a mystical power to predict the coming spring weather. Well, at least our Phil doesn’t explode to make his point.

But fortunately for us in Western New York, we do have another tradition that is getting more popular every year, and it invites us to get our hands into that rich, springtime soil and our shirtsleeves out into the springtime sunshine.

It is called Grow Jamestown, a celebration of flowers and trees and shrubs and a hundred different kinds of kitchen garden plantables.

Cortney’s cover story this week is your invitation to come and find your own garden favorites – from tomatoes to watermelons and from celery to beets and carrots and probably even some grapes to plant and stomp and bottle a little of this year’s spring for the winters to come.

And don’t forget to plant those May flowers. After all, spring always brings lots of April showers to make it all grow. “In the spring I have counted 136 kinds of weather inside of 24 hours, Mark Twain once said. And it’s all good at Grow Jamestown.

Enjoy the end of the shoveling season, the beginning of the planting season, and of course, no matter the weather or the time of the year, enjoy the read right here.

Walt Pickut

Previous articleLadybug Trivia
Next articleGROW Jamestown Welcomes Spring with Annual Home and Garden Show
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.