Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ABC 4.2.8 H

OK, Here it is, ABC Wednesday time again. This is the day to join in the ABC Wednesday Challenge, and share a little bit of our world with friends all over the world, and learn about them as well, one letter at a time. You can participate too, in either the sharing, or the learning, or both, by visiting ABC Wednesday,Where this week, the letter is:

This week we celebrated Mardi Gras at our HOME. Now, Mardi Gras has a rich HISTORY, originating as a Pagan festival during the month of February, that included revelry and merriment, possibly as a way to fight winter blues and spring fever.

When Christianity arrived, church official decided that it would be easier to incorporate pagan holidays as new religious holidays rather than attempt to entice new "converts" to abandon them altogether, so many of our modern celebrations stem from Pagan holidays.

The February Carnival, therefore became a celebration of freedom and permissiveness, before they began the 40 day period of fasting and prayer immediately preceding Easter.

During this time, there would be feasting which lasted several days and participants would indulge in voluntary madness by donning masks and wearing outrageous costumes. All aspects of pleasure were considered to be allowable during the Carnival celebration.

Of course, wise Christians would also use this as a time to eat fatty foods, to prepare their bodies for the next 6 weeks, when they would not eat any meat.

Over time, This last day, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, became known as Fat Tuesday, or in French, Mardi Gras.

Living in an area with a high Catholic Population and particularly a large Polish Catholic population, we get a special treat on Mardi Gras, not necessarily seen in other areas.

Spelled Paczki, and pronounced like a combination between "punch key" and "pootch ski", the treat of the day in this area is a large ball of dough, filled with fruit filling and deep fried.

Picture a jelly donut, only better, larger, heavier and richer.

As a matter of fact, a large share of the population here refers to the day before Ash Wednesday, not as Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, but rather as Paczki Day.

We couldn't be left out, so we made sure and got a dozen from a local specialty bakery.

In the spirit of HEALTHY HABITS, the next 40 days should now be days where we eat a restricted diet of grains and vegetables, with very little meats. We'll see how that goes.

Another H word popular on this blog is of course HERBS and I thought I'd share some HERB HAPPENINGS.

Bingo and I planted some seedlings in the mini greenhouse that we got from CSN Stores recently, and the Thyme, Marjoram and Savory seedlings are now about 3/4" tall and looking very delicate and vulnerable. We are looking forward to good weather so we can get some more things started in the garden.

I will be doing an Herb Presentation on April 5, at the MaComb County Extension Office, speaking about how to start an herb garden. The Nutrition people from the extension office will be on hand that day as well, with some foods prepared using herbs, to demonstrate how healthy and fun they can be.

And I met last night with a local group of herb enthusiasts who meet once a month to talk about herb gardening. This group plants and maintains an herb garden at the Library in Monroe County, and enjoys other gardening related activities and events throughout the year.

Finally, for my last H, I want to tell a story.

We got our annual invoice in the mail this week, from the campground where we keep our trailer, and it reminded me of the first time we camped there.

We had found the campground online and made a reservation by email, intending to arrive early in the day on Friday. But, as often happens it was later than anticipated when we started on our way, and somewhat late at night by the time we arrived in the town where the campground is located.

I had "Googled" the address, and had directions, but for some reason, the directions were not accurate, so I ended up in the middle of what felt like nowhere, well after dark, pulling our 30 foot trailer, and hopelessly lost.

Fortunately for us, we were in a small town.

I pulled into the convenience store, which was just getting ready to close, and asked a customer in the lot if he knew the area.

He did. He lived just down the road, and so I asked him about the campground.

He wasn't sure, but he said he thought he may know where it was. He started to give me directions, then stopped and told me he would just take us there if we followed him. I protested that it wasn't necessary, but he said that way, just in case we couldn't find it we wouldn't be stranded. He told us that if we didn't find it we could come park at his house and plug in to his garage, and then look for the campground in the morning.

Well, the campground was right where he thought it was, and the maintenance man was still awake, so we got a spot and set up.

But the impression left by the man who helped us is still with me.

We were strangers, in the Middle of the night, and he didn't know us from Adam, yet he took time to drive us to our campground, and offered his own yard as an alternative.

This HOMETOWN HOSPITALITY, is such a rare thing in larger cities and one of the things I really love about small towns.

For more H words and inspirations, be sure to visit ABC Wednesday.


  1. I grew up in a Polish neighborhood so know paczkis (tho I've seen it spelled about 4 different ways).

    Nice that the neighbors helped you w your personal HISTORY.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team