Crazies without comment

February 6, 2007

As the title notes, without comment:

Tom Jefferson’s apples – for sale!

February 6, 2007

Moving to Utah (in the early Tertiary, if I recall correctly) took our family from the spud fields of southern Idaho, and plopped us in the middle of fruit orchards on the foothills of the Wasatch Front. There, protected from eastern winds and too-early sunlight by Mt. Timpanogos, farmers grew Bing cherries, pie cherries, peaches, apricots, and a lot of apples.

Our bus route to school was lined with orchards; missing the bus could make a wonderful experience wandering through the tended rows, finding the occasional clusters of wild asparagus (mark that down for next Sunday . . .), and discovering songbirds’ hiding places.

For a while our athletic fields abutted orchards. Late autumn football practices were sometimes made merrier when the migrant pickers took pity on us and tossed a few pippins over the fence.

In a perfect world that I imagine, orchards are close by many schools. Children get to see the blossom of the cherry trees heralding spring, and when they return to school in the fall they see the ripening apples, and then the harvesting of the apples. Time is measured, and history demonstrated, by the natural rhythms of agriculture.Newtown pippins, apples from Monticello

How about an apple from Thomas Jefferson’s farm? You can buy the trees from the foundation that runs Monticello. In that perfect world I imagine, the orchard near the school would feature at least one tree from Tom Jefferson’s orchard, one from George Washington’s, and several would be direct descendants of Ohio Valley apple trees planted by John Chapman, Johnny Appleseed himself. When teachers discuss the farms and actions of these men, even daydreaming kids could look out the window and see history staring back at them.

For the Albemarle (or Newtown) Pippin (malus cv.) pictured here, the Monticello catalog waxes freely:

In comparing the fruits of Europe to those of America, Jefferson wrote from Paris, “They have no apples here to compare with our Newtown pippin.” In 1759 Benjamin Franklin imported barrels of the fruit into London and, by 1807 it appeared on the Horticultural Society of London’s “Select List” of apples. England’s Queen Victoria once waived the import tariff for the pippin and it was said that, “they were eaten and praised by royal lips, and swallowed by many aristocratic throats. The name Albemarle Pippin first appeared on the editorial page of Richmond, Virginia’s The Southern Planter in 1843, saying “the very best pippin we know is grown in the county of Albemarle, ” which is where Monticello is located. The green-skinned, yellow-fleshed pippin is known as the Prince of Apples. It’s mouth-watering flavors actually improve with storage. This apple is self-pollinating, but planting more than one enhances production. Grows 14 to 16 feet in height. Early 1700’s.

Zones 5-9.

Trees begin shipping February 26; supplies are limited. Proceeds support the restoration and education programs at Monticello. One may purchase a part of history to come live in one’s yard.

Pork producers agree to reason on breast feeding

February 6, 2007

Humor would be impossible without the newspapers, but a lot of really funny stuff happens that never makes it there.

Shortcut: The National Pork Board is working for a happy solution with The Lactivist, who had previously been threatened with legal action for promoting breastfeeding with a t-shirt that says: “The Other White Milk.”

When I taught in a program that included the district’s teen pregnancy courses, I had a kid who one day, out of the blue, insisted that he’d never let his “baby momma” breast feed his son, “because I don’t want him growing up to be homo.”  When such eruptions of ignorance and bigotry occur, what is to be done?

As luck would have it, he was studying the Progressive Era, and we had a lengthy discussion on public health issues, and how to improve the health of the population overall.  We found several websites (which, if available through the district’s filters, were non-objectionable) discussing the value of breastfeeding in giving kids a head start on health and brain development.   My student was skeptical.

In the face of that kind of health-threatening ignorance and such bizarre hoaxes, one quickly comes to understand that radical campaigns to promote breastfeeding are required — even those that depend on humor.

You will get a few laughs, and eventual hope for a happy resolution, following the story of Lactivist’s tussle with the marketers at the Pork Council, with a special tip of the old scrub brush to Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.

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