Saturday, October 3, 2015

Seedy Saturdays- Strawberries

Happy Saturday everyone!  I know we are out of season now, but today’s blog is about this delicious berry.

The strawberry is another berry native to North America.  Native Americans called them "heart-seed berries" and would pound these red treasures into their traditional cornmeal bread.  In Europe, the strawberry was originally grown more for decoration than for eating.  For example, Charles V had 1200 strawberry plants grown in the Louvre’s royal gardens in Paris.  It would be another century before they were grown and refined for the market. 

An interesting fact about the strawberry is that this plant is a member of the rose family, and did you know that the berry itself holds the actual fruits which are the little seed-like things embedded all over its surface?!  In terms of this fruit’s name, there are many explanations, including the practice of placing straw around the plants as they grew for protection, or the fact that the runners spread outward from the plant and in Anglo-Saxon “spread” translated to strew, which eventually became straw to the English. 

In traditions of love, strawberries were used to show flirtation, signifying an intoxication for someone or the fact that they were delicious to you.  In Art and Literature, this fruit was a symbol of desire and sensuality, and began to be considered an aphrodisiac, because of its high number of tiny seeds.  Lastly, in Norse (Viking) mythology, the goddess Frigga gave strawberries to symbolize spirits of young children that had died as an infant and made their way to heaven inside a strawberry.  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

World War Wednesdays: Country Music and the World Wars

     This week's post is for any country music fans out there! I've always been a huge fan of the good old country classics, and this week I thought it would be interesting to combine two of my favourite things and discuss how it was affected by wartime. You'll be sure to recognize some names and hopefully even some songs!

First World War

     Commercial country music as we know it has its origins in the aftermath of the First World War, during the 1920s. America was determined to return to a peaceful, normal life, and country recordings in the 20s and 30s reflected that sentiment. A noteworthy exception is one side of Jimmie Rodgers's very first recording, "A Soldier's Sweetheart", which recalls "that awful  German war". In general, most songs from this period which dealt with war as a theme were about the American Civil War two generations earlier, usually told from the Southern perspective.
Jimmie Rodgers
 Here is a link to the 1927 recording:

Second World War

     Between 1939 and 1941, America once again saw itself surrounded by a world in conflict, before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 caused them to fully enter the war. Denver Darling recounted that fateful day in his song "Cowards Over Pearl Harbor".
Denver Darling
   Singer-songwriter Carson Robison produced a number of wartime ballads that would cause quite a stir with audiences today, such as "Here We Go to Tokio, Said Barnacle Bill the Sailor," "We're Going to Slap the Dirty Little Jap," and the double-sided "Hitler's Letter to Hirohito" and "Hirohito's Letter to Hitler".
    The real patriotic hit for 1941 came out of New York through singer Elton Britt. Called "There's a Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere", the song told the unforgettable story of a crippled mountain boy wanting the "help bring the Axis down a peg".

     Here's a link to the catchy patriotic tune:

     Remarkably, country music experienced some major changes as a result of the Second World War. Before 1941, it was a regional product of the American south, but as the war threw Southerners all over the world for service and domestic war industry jobs, they took their music with them. The audience thus exploded and songs became recognized not only nationally but globally.

     Eight months into the war, in August 1942, a musicians' union strike resulted in a ban on all new recordings which lasted up to two years. By 1944, of course, the war was still being fought, and country music had not lost any of its previous patriotic enthusiasm. Gene Autry, then a pilot in the Asian theater, released "At Mail Call Today", Eddy Arnold had "Mother's Prayer" and "Did You See My Daddy Over There", And Bob Wills recounted the Pacific war with "White Cross on Okinawa" and "Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima".

    In addition, Ernest Tubb released the song that inspired this week's post: "Soldier's Last Letter". It's a moving and emotional tune written by Redd Stewart during his time as a sergeant in the South Pacific. When Tubb released it in 1944, it became a No. 1 hit on the country charts and stayed there for four weeks. Merle Haggard later had a hit single with the song in 1970.
The great Ernest Tubb
     Here's a link to the song:

    Overall, the Second World War saw a major shift in the tradition of country music and wartime, which was born out of the post-WWI period. Some of these songs are tied to the most infamous names in country music, and they're as great to listen to today as they were in the dark days of their release. Country music owes a lot to this time in history, as well as the artists who gave it both a voice and a twang.

Supplementary Information courtesy of "Country Music At War" by Ronnie Pugh for CMT.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Seedy Saturdays- The Tomato

Happy Saturday Everyone!  This week I bring you some information on the tomato.

Though thought of as a vegetable, the tomato is a fruit/berry of the nightshade plant.  Native to the South American Andes, the tomato was first used as a food in Mexico and the Spanish were the ones who helped it to spread throughout the world as they colonized the Americas.  There is evidence of tomatoes being grown in British North America in 1710.  They were more often grown for decoration however, not for food, as people thought they were poisonous at the time. 

As mentioned above, the tomato is a fruit, coming from a flowering plant, but is considered a vegetable for cooking purposes.  It has much less sugar than other fruits and because it is not as sweet as others, it is cooked like a vegetable, as a part of a salad or main dish and not in a dessert.  There was quite a bit of protest over whether to call the tomato a fruit or vegetable however.  On May 10, 1893 the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the tomato be legally classified as a vegetable based on the definition that they are generally used as a part of dinner, not dessert. 

A few interesting facts include: that the tomato was called pommes d'amour, meaning "love apples" in French.  In Spain, there is an annual celebration called La Tomatina, where there is a massive tomato fight, and lastly, during the 1800s, people would throw rotten tomatoes as “nonlethal” weapons to inform stage performers that they were bad. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

World War Wednesdays: the Battle of Britain 75th Anniversary Ceremony, Ottawa


      A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain, a major  Second World War air battle between the British Royal Air Force and German Luftwaffe during the summer and autumn of 1940. The official date for recognition of the battle this year was September 20, 2015, also known as Battle of Britain Sunday. To mark the occasion, a ceremony was held on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, to commemorate this significant event in our history. I was very fortunate to have attended the ceremony, and wanted to share some of the highlights with you this week! (If the videos do not work automatically, there are links below to where I uploaded them on YouTube).

     One of the main highlights of the ceremony was the presence of two reproduction planes which were parked on the lawn in front of centre block so that people could see up close the aircraft involved in the battle. On the left in the photo is the Supermarine Spitfire, and on the right is a Hawker Hurricane. The Spitfire has become the symbol of the Battle of Britain, and the Hurricane proved a strong example of Britain's defiance against the seemingly unstoppable British advance.
Another view of the Spitfire

The Hawker Hurricane

The Spitfire in front of the Peace Tower

The Hurricane in front of the Peace Tower
    Before the ceremony, the bells in the Peace Tower had been programmed to chime the tunes of popular British WWII songs such as Vera Lynn's "When the Lights Go On Again" and "The White Cliffs of Dover". I'm not sure if you'll be able to hear them in the video, but I captured the main tune to "When the Lights Go On Again".

    The flag on the Peace Tower was also changed for the occasion to that of the Governor General of Canada's to signify his presence.
     The ceremony itself was very moving, as it incorporated some of the traditional sombre elements of ceremonial remembrance along with aspects more specific to the event, including quotes from Winston Churchill and some of the airmen involved in the battle. A poem by Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr., a member of the No. 412 Squadron, RCAF who was killed in December of 1941, was read, which was particularly emotional.

     The ceremony culminated in a truly rare and remarkable sight-- flypasts from Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft past and present. I was lucky enough to capture them from the perfect spot, on what was a perfect day to be looking at the sky.

     In the centre is the Avro Lancaster bomber. The other planes are: a Curtiss P-40-N Kittyhawk, a Robillard Brothers North American Mustang IV (P-51 in the USA), a Hawker Hurricane Mk IV, and a Supermarine Spitfire XVI, all courtesy of Vintage Wings of Canada.

     The larger helicopter in the center is a CH-147F Chinook, and the other two are CH-146 Griffons.
    A CC-117 plane.

     A CC-150 Polaris and two CF-18 Hornets.

     And finally, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds flew the "missing man" formation to honour those who passed away in service of their country. You'll see the one aircraft depart from the group in a salute to the brave men and women who served during the Battle of Britain. 
Canada's Commander-in-Chief, His Excellency the Right Honorable David Johnston looks on as the Snowbirds emerge,  courtesy of Rideau Hall. 
     As seen in the pictures, it could  not have been a better day to honour this remarkable event. It was amazing to witness these aircraft in person, and I certainly will never forget it.

Thanks for reading, 


Monday, September 21, 2015

Memory Mondays- The Pearce Homestead

In 1809, John S. Pearce settled in the Dunwich area, along with the Backus, Storey and Patterson families.  Pearce purchased 200 acres of land in 1813 from Colonel Talbot and the house still on the property today was built in 1874.  The basement was often used for baking, with one fireplace there and two more on the main level.  There are two staircases in the house that lead to an upstairs with 8 bedrooms and 2 hallways.  The walls of the home are 3 bricks thick made from clay from the farm, and the foundation was made from farm stones and mortar.  It is a beautiful home that overlooks Lake Erie and has a great deal of history.  Have a great week and take care!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Behind the Scenes Sunday - Heritage Farm Show


Another Heritage Farm Show has come and gone!  Although the weekend was overcast and breezy and there were other events in the area, we had lots of visitors on site.  There are some pictures below and more on our Facebook page.  I want to use this post to thank everyone who made our 12th Annual Heritage Farm Show a success.  We appreciate you all and I apologize in advance if I have missed anyone.

Peter, Pat & John Agar
Don & Betty Ann Bobier
John & Angela Bobier
Butch's Small Engine
Clean Cut Lawn Care
Connell Family
D & L's Place
Bill Denning
Dixon's Feed Service
DJW Mini Backhoe Service
Don’s Detailing & Refinishing
Jeremy & Coralee Dunn
Dutton & District Lions Club
Dutton Foodland
Dutton Variety & Gas
Brian & Liz Elliott
Rob & Janice Ellis
Fairles Food Market
Glen Ford
Sophie Gowan
Great Lakes New Holland
Knight’s Home Hardware
Cal McCallum
Cal & Mary McMillan
Don Miller
Dog Agility Group
Duncan & Eileen McTavish
Municipality of Dutton-Dunwich
Dave Murray
NAPA Deland Auto Parts
Branka Nesic
Out To Lunch Cafe
Carm Pfeiffer
PJs Pizza
Steve Proctor
Queens Line Automotive
Isabel Reid
Lisa & Richard Reid
Brad & Joanne Reive
Rick’s Auto Repair
Rodney Building and Metal Products
Shade and Shelter Tent Rentals
Shedden Fair
Talbot Trails Restaurant
Tasty Sweets Café & Bakery
Thamesville Community Credit Union
Thompson’s Seed
Ian Toll
Frank Vysocil
Wallacetown Agricultural Society (Wallacetown Fair October 2-4)
Jim & Leta West
West Elgin Mutual Insurance
West Lorne Foodland
Wicketthorn Farm
Susan P. Wilson
and many more!
Thank you to all our exhibitors, vendors, staff, farm show committee and volunteers!



Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday Sightings- Brown-headed Cowbird

Happy Saturday everyone!  This week is about the Cowbird.

The female Brown-headed Cowbird does not build a nest, she instead saves all her energy for producing eggs and can sometimes lay more than three dozen eggs a year.  They lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and abandon their chicks for foster parents to take care of.  This is called parasitism and has caused the numbers of the host birds to decline as their young take over the nests.

This bird can be found in open habitats, such as fields, pastures, meadows, forest edges and lawns.  When not displaying or feeding, they often perch high on tree branches that stick out.  They have glossy black plumage and a rich brown head, which can often look black at a distance or in poor lighting.  The females are completely brown and have fine streaking on the belly, with a dark eye.

Take care!

Catie and Ben