Top 'o the Morn

"This time of year local gardens have ripened, or are in the process of ripening, tomatoes, onions, corn, beans and more. Later come the pumpkins and squash, et al, and nothing tastes better than produce from one’s own garden.We remember as a child looking forward to early June when the first green peas and early potatoes made a creamy dish with no left-overs. Potatoes always figured in Grandfather’s garden, and in our own family garden. Planted in the dark of the moon, they produced twice the potatoes planted in the light of the moon. Honest. It has been proven, regardless of non-believers.Peruvians produced the first potato dish, and called it “causa al la limena.” It was made of mashed potates mixed with lemon juice, oil, chopped onions, salt and hot chili peppers.It is said the most popular potato dish was invented by the French who called the potato “pomme de terre” or “apple of the earth” and who have more than 100 potato recipes from souffles to pommes Anna baked in butter and turned out like a cake.The Germans called the potato “kartoffle” or “truffle” and “erdapfel” — “earth apple.” The Germans use potatoes for almost every kind of dish — noodles, pancakes, bread and salads. The famous Italian gnocchi is made from potatoes, the Spanish and Greeks also feature potato dishes.The potato is known as both the poor man’s food and the rich man’s delight. God knew what He was doing when he created the potato for a world that would become hungry many times throughout its existence.Scientists from all over the world are continually working on creating a super spud that would mature in 60 days. An Idaho or Maine potato takes 120 days. The super spud would be a disease-resistant potato for poor farmers in the tropics who have no pesticides.A garden is a lovely thing, God wot! It evokes emotions that run deep and have to do with the weather, the changes of the seasons and the moon.The moon, that big golden orb of the night, exerts much influence on the earth and has featured through generations in lore, myth or old sayings. Our Grandfather explained that root crops were always planted in the dark of the moon (no moon); and top crops such as corn and beans are planted in the light of the moon (full moon).You don’t believe it? Try it. Plant two rows of potatoes, one planted in the dark of the moon, one in the light of the moon. You’ll be a believer!The moon, which controls the tides of our oceans, also is said to control human beings. Hospitals and police departments ready for the full moon with added personnel and emergency trappings. For this is the time when the loonies get hyper and justify the word “lunatic” whose root word is “luna” or “moon.”A number of years ago, a member of the Seattle Police Department visited our newsroom and we asked him about the full moon’s effect on people. He said it was phenomenal the difference the full moon made.He recalled one 4 a.m. when the moon was to become officially full in one minute. Countdown began — and in 30 seconds the first call came. A naked man was chasing a Metro bus down the middle of Seattle’s Summit Avenue.We asked the Oak Harbor police what they thought about the problem, and if it was true? The reply was that when a policeman gets into his car, and looks up to see a full moon shining, he says “Oh no!” Anything could happen, and usually does. A close friend who works at a King County hospital said the nearer the days of the full moon (or nights) get, the more the emergency ward gears up for action. It isn’t superstition with them, it is reality.Spuds or people, the moon has its influence!-----------------Dorothy Neil has gathered and recorded Whidbey Island history for more than 50 years. She is the author of 10 books, including “By Canoe and Sailing Ship They Came,” which chronicle Whidbey life and times. "

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