FOR YOUR HEALTH – The Cleaning Season: Dust Your Ducts

To make it easier to breathe clean at home, have your HVAC system inspected regularly.

(NAPSI)—When you breathe a sigh of relief after giving your home its annual thorough cleaning, you may be breathing in more dust, dirt, and pollution than you realize — unless you’ve also gotten the HVAC system cleaned.

A Hidden Problem

Through normal living, people generate a great deal of contaminants, such as dander, dust, and chemicals. These get pulled into the HVAC system and re-circulated five to seven times a day, on average. Over time, this causes a build-up of dirt in the duct work.

Some people are more sensitive to these contaminants than others. Allergy and asthma sufferers, as well as young children and the elderly, tend to be more susceptible to the types of poor indoor air quality that air duct cleaning can help address. Also, some homes may be more susceptible to certain pollutants, including places with pets, smokers, or remodeling projects.

An Answer

Fortunately, it’s easy to deal with. The experts at the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) say HVAC systems should be inspected and cleaned regularly by a reputable, certified HVAC professional.

The ones who are NADCA members possess general liability insurance, are trained and tested regularly, sign on to a code of ethics, and must clean and restore your heating and cooling system in accordance with NADCA standards, so they provide a high level of security.

Learn More

For further facts on having healthy air in a healthy home, visit To find a NADCA member nearby, go to and enter your zip code.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Augusta & Vassalboro

Europeans trading furs with the natives.

by Mary Grow

For those who don’t recognize my name, I wrote stories about China and Vassalboro local meetings until they were canceled. Now I plan a series on the history of this part of the Kennebec Valley, starting with today’s introduction to two of eight towns — some now cities — created along the Kennebec River between Augusta and Fairfield. As our present circumstances range from the inconvenient to the fatal, it seems appropriate to look selectively at the highs and the lows (followers of The Capitol Steps will instantly flip the initial letters of the two nouns) of our area before our time here.

What is now, and has been for 200 years, the State of Maine, was first explored and settled by Europeans by way of the Atlantic Ocean (see The Town Line, March 19, 2020), and ocean transportation has been important in its history and economy ever since (see The Town Line, March 12, 2020).

From the coast, European exploration, land claims and settlements moved inland up rivers, for the obvious reason that boats and ships were the major means of moving people and especially goods. Although the area was well inhabited before Europeans arrived, Native tribes did not use wheeled vehicles; their trails were unsuited to wagons and even to horseback riders.

Rivers maintained their importance as running water became a source of industrial power, encouraging the growth of towns and cities. As more people arrived, European population expanded outward from river basins.

The central part of the Kennebec River, from Augusta through Waterville on the west bank and Clinton on the east bank, illustrates these generalizations.

The area was part of the land granted to the Plymouth Colony of Massachusetts by King James I of England. The grant extended for 15 English miles on each side of the river.

Leaders of the Plymouth Colony built a trading post on the east shore at Cushnoc, where Fort Western, in Augusta, now stands, in 1625, and traded with local Natives for almost 40 years. According to Henry D. Kingsbury, principal editor of the immense and detailed History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892, visitors to the site included Governor William Bradford, Captain Miles Standish and John Alden (of “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?” fame).

When the Native inhabitants, backed by French from Canada, again tried to drive out English settlers beginning in the 1660s, the Cushnoc post closed and the English retreated to the coast. Nonetheless, Kingsbury calls the Plymouth colonists, “remotely the pioneers of Augusta.”

By the 1750s, the French & Indian threat had diminished so that settlement of inland Maine became possible.

Thus in 1753, the General Court in Boston endorsed a new company called the Kennebec Purchase, opening the way to legal settlement of the Kennebec River valley. Bostonians Dr. Sylvester Gardiner and Florentius Vassall were two of the leading investors. The Plymouth Colony built Fort Western, in Augusta, the same year, and in 1754 built Fort Halifax, in Winslow, and a road connecting them.

The present City of Augusta and state capital had its origin on the east bank of the river at the Cushnoc site. In 1761, surveyor Nathan Winslow laid out and marked lots on land extending three miles from the Kennebec on both sides, covering present-day Augusta and parts of neighboring towns. Kingsbury comments that many of those lot lines exist today, as roads, lot lines and other divisions.

The plan in Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history closely resembles the riverine piece of the Vassalboro plan described below: mile-deep narrow lots along the river, mile-deep three-times-as-wide lots in the next tier; mile-deep lots half as wide as the second ones for the third tier. A major difference is that almost every lot has one or more names written on it.

In 1771, the Fort Western settlement was incorporated as the town of Hallowell – not the Hallowell we know, but a 65,715-acre-tract that included present-day Hallowell, Augusta, Chelsea and much of Farmingdale and Manchester.

Residents of the north end of the new town, known as The Fort, and the south end, called The Hook, disagreed about many things, including religion. The breaking point came in February 1796, when the Massachusetts General Court approved building the first bridge across the Kennebec from The Fort, though Hook residents also wanted it. People from the two areas demanded separation, and on Feb. 20, 1797, the north end was incorporated as the Town of Harrington.

Fort Western in 1754.

The name honored one of George II’s ministers, Lord Harrington. It had been used in 1729 on the Maine coast for what is now Bristol, and did not last long.

The new Harrington’s residents did not like the name either. The Massachusetts General Court granted their petition to change it to Augusta on June 9, 1797.

Kingsbury guesses opposition to the first name might have been because migratory fish were caught there and remaining Hallowell residents corrupted the new name to Herring-town.

The name Augusta, like Harrington, had been used before, for a small settlement in what is now Phippsburg that was destroyed by an Indian raid. Kingsbury surmises the name might have been chosen for the new inland town simply because it was not easily made into a joke.

Other sources say the name honors Augusta Dearborn, daughter of New Hampshire physician Henry Dearborn, who fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill, accompanied Benedict Arnold on the famous march to Québec that went up the Kennebec and later served as Secretary of War under President Thomas Jefferson, and in the U. S. House of Representatives.

The Town of Vassalboro is the next town north of Augusta on the east side of the river. It is named after Florentius Vassall and was at first spelled Vassalborough; the town clerk had adopted the modern spelling by 1818, according to Alma Pierce Robbins’ 1971 History of Vassalborough Maine. Originally the town was 31 miles wide, 15 miles on each side of the Kennebec plus a mile’s worth of river.

A plan of the eastern half reproduced in the 1971 history is apparently the work of two successive surveyors. In 1761, the Kennebec Purchase Proprietors had Nathan Winslow survey the first three miles inland from the river. In 1774 they hired John Jones to survey another two miles from the river and to lay out lots.

The plan, reportedly a 19th-century copy of the original Jones map, shows 47 lots extending east from the river. According to the Vassalboro history, they were supposed to be 50 rods wide by one mile deep. Next came a narrow line that might be a rangeway and another tier of lots, each three times as wide as the riverfront ones, that were reserved for the proprietors. After another maybe-rangeway, a third tier, each lot half as wide as those in the second tier, encompassed “7 Mile Pond” (now Webber Pond).

A comparatively wide north-south open area, probably the demarcation between the two surveys, is bounded on the east by two more tiers of the medium-sized lots separated by a possible rangeway.

“12 Mile Pond,” now China Lake, is identified creating an irregularity in the northeastern side of the plan, and a rounded intrusion in the southeast suggests that what is now Three Mile Pond was known but not mapped.

In the 21st century, surveyors define a lot that is more than twice as long as it is wide as a “spaghetti lot.” In Maine law, the definition is “a parcel of land with a lot depth to shore frontage ratio greater than 5 to 1.” In 1993, spaghetti lots were forbidden in land under the jurisdiction of the Land Use Planning Commission.


Kingsbury, Henry D., ed. Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 1892\Robbins, Alma Pierce History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 1971 n.d. (1971)

Web sites, miscellaneous

NEXT: Staying on the east side of the Kennebec, earliest history of Winslow, Benton and Clinton.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Mothers Day special to me this year

by Debbie Walker

By Mothers Day this year (May 10) I will be a great-grandmother. It’s funny but it seems like yesterday I was waiting to become a grandmother in this same time period. Deana was pregnant and upset because her baby wasn’t due until after Mothers Day, but her husband would be celebrating his first Fathers Day that year.

Guess what! Babies don’t care about “due dates,” they come when they are ready. You guessed it. Mothers Day Deana had been a mother for about 24 hours. Tristin was born on May 9 that year.

And now it’s another Mothers Day and my daughter will be a grandmother this time. Tristin and Chris will be celebrating their child, Addison Grace, who is due May 1.

In the meantime, I found another book. This one is Humor for a Woman’s Heart, compiled by Sheri MacDonald. It has the chapter titled You Know It’s a Mothers Day When….

  • A delivery man appears at your door with a dozen red roses and he’s not lost.
  • Your children tell you how wonderful you are, and they are not setting you up for an allowance increase.
  • You get served breakfast in bed (up ‘til now the only way for you to get breakfast in bed was to sleep with a Twinkie under your pillow).
  • You get thanked for all the little things Mom’s do throughout the year like cooking, cleaning, helping with homework, saving the universe ….
  • But most of all, you know it’s Mothers Day when your family tells you what a loving, kind, warm-hearted person you are, and no one brought home a new pet!

Another chapter I would like to share with you is 11 Tips to Surviving Swimsuit Shopping. It is fast approaching the time to bite the bullet and go buy a new bathing suit. Here are your tips:

  1. Begin fasting as soon as you set your shopping date.
  2. Select store based on dimness of their lighting.
  3. Get a pregnant friend to accompany you.
  4. Check for suits tagged with bust-enhancing, waist- nipping, thigh slimming features. Ask salesperson to point out section with “all of the above.”
  5. Tell yourself it’s your underwear that’s making the suit look so bulky.
  6. Tell yourself these are “trick mirrors.” You are really much slimmer in real life.
  7. Convince yourself that suits with built in shorts are not dorky. They are chic.
  8. Try on all 17 styles the store carries. head for a dimmer store.
  9. Remind yourself that round is the most aesthetically pleasing shape in nature.
  10. Practice sucking in your thighs.
  11. On your way home with the all-black, waist-nipping, thigh-trimming suit, celebrate by stopping at ye olde ice cream shoppe. Order the banana split. But skip the whipped cream. It is, after all bathing suit season.

Let me know what your thoughts or concerns are at

You know me, I am just curious. Thanks for reading.

On a more serious note: We are all involved in this health concern, some more than others. Think of others and the help they might need. With people being asked to stay at home there will be more cases of depression. Again, think of others and how you can help.

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Placido Domingo, Dean Martin, Gene Krupa

Placido Domingo

Peter Catesby Peter Cates


Placido Domingo

Opera singer Placido Domingo, who’s 79, has tested positive for coronavirus. We can all hope he will be fine, as people even older are recovering from this. But we need to continue with the suggested safety steps, too.

While on the subject of Domingo, I have some of his recordings – various complete operas, single arias, and three tenors collaborations with Pavarotti and Carreras. He also has had a long, professional singing career and seems to have paced himself, as opposed to some singers who ruin their voices earlier. His Cavaradossi on the Leontyne Price Puccini’s Tosca set conducted by Zubin Mehta is a good introduction to his artistry.

Dean Martin

Dream with Dean
Reprise LP, August 1964 release.

Dean Martin

Dean Martin was a singer of talent, even if not on the same level as Frank Sinatra. He phrased with intelligence, suavity and an astute sense of timing.

This album featured him in a small jazz combo setting, accompanied by four very fine instrumentalists – guitarist Barney Kessel, pianist Ken Lane, bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Irv Cottler. Dino sang such staples as My Melancholy Baby, Fools Rush In, I’ll Buy That Dream and a scaled down, subdued Everybody Loves Somebody plus eight additional selections. And it can be heard on YouTube.

Gene Krupa and His Orchestra

It’s Just a Matter of Opinion; That’s My Home
Columbia, 37067, ten-inch 78, recorded mid-1940s.

Gene Krupa

Gene Krupa (1909-1973) was a truly gifted musician on the drums who expanded their boundaries from mere rhythm to outstanding artistic virtuosity on the 1930’s hit recording, Sing Sing Sing, by Benny Goodman’s orchestra. At various times during the ‘40s and ‘50s, Krupa led his own orchestra and recorded a number of 78s for Columbia Records.

Both sides feature the very good jazz singer, Buddy Stewart (1922-1950), who is joined in It’s Just a Matter… by Carolyn Grey, who was heard often during the big band days. The songs are not well-known staples but they are quality listening in their vocal and instrumental arrangements.

Krupa played frequent battles of the drums with friend Buddy Rich in concert and recording. He also struggled with heroin addiction but overcame it. Buddy Stewart was killed in a car accident at 27 while on a road trip to New Mexico to be with his wife and child. Carolyn Grey is still living at 98.

LEGAL NOTICES for Thursday, March 26, 2020

18-A MRSA sec. 3-801

The following Personal Representatives have been appointed in the estates noted. The first publication date of this notice March 26, 2020

If you are a creditor of an estate listed below, you must present your claim within four months of the first publication date of this Notice to Creditors by filing a written statement of your claim on a proper form with the Register of Probate of this Court or by delivering or mailing to the Personal Representative listed below at the address published by his name, a written statement of the claim indicating the basis therefore, the name and address of the claimant and the amount claimed or in such other manner as the law may provide. See 18-C M.R.S.A. §3-804.

2020-059 – Estate of NORA P. YOUNG, late of New Portland, Me deceased. Martin C. Clague, 205 Linden Ponds Way, #HG723, Hingham, MA 02043 appointed Personal Representative.

2020-060 – Estate of MURLENE J. KIMBALL, late of Palmyra, Me deceased. Albert F. Kimball, Jr. 10 Old Colbath Road, Exeter, Me 04435 appointed Personal Representative.

2020-062 – Estate of GORDON G. PROVOST, late of Skowhegan, Me deceased. Sharon H. Provost, 16 Provost Lane, Skowhegan, Me 04976 appointed Personal Representative.

2020-064 – Estate of SUSAN MARIE NELSON, late of Canaan, Me deceased. Gorey N. Nelson, 800 Main Street, Canaan, Me 04924 appointed Personal Representative.

2020-066 – Estate of DURWOOD HAYDEN, late of Hartland, Me deceased. Dann L. Hayden, 756 Athens Road, Hartland, Me 04943 and Dena L. Hayden, 64 Treadwell Acres, Hermon, Me 04401 appointed Co-Personal Representative

2020-068 – Estate of MALCOLM D. WHITNEY, late of Canaan, Me deceased. Rita Louise Page, 431 Jones Road, Garland, Maine 04939 appointed Personal Representative.

2020-070 – Estate of GORDON L. BIZEAU, late of St. Albans, Me deceased. Joan Fleisman, 12 Kimberly Field, Enfield, CT 06082 and Timothy Bizeau, 16 Pleasant Street, Windsor, CT 06095 appointed Co-Personal Representatives.

2020-071 – Estate of CHRISTINE J. WORSTER, late of Cambridge, Me deceased. Clarence W. Worster, Jr., PO Box 44, Cambridge, Me 04923 appointed Personal Representative.

2020-072 – Estate of GUNNAR J. LOVELY, late of Pittsfield, Me deceased. Joseph E. Lovely, 158 Livingston Street, Pittsfield, Me 04967 appointed Personal Representative.

2020-074 – Estate of JACK C. DIONNE, late of Skowhegan, Me deceased. Jane D. Jewell, 227 Beckwith Road, Cornville, Me 04976 appointed Personal Representative.

2020-075 – Estate of MATTHEW G. PRATT, late of Smithfield, Me deceased. Rhys Pratt, 11 Raymond Road, Topsham, Me 04086 and Dana Daigle, 81 Halifax Street, Winslow, Me 04901 appointed Co-Personal Representatives.

2020-076 – Estate of CAROL ANDERSON, late of Caratunk, Me deceased. Cheryl Anderson, PO Box 56, Caratunk, Me 04925 appointed Personal Representative.

2020-078 – Estate of PAUL F. LASKEY, SR., late of Rockwood, Me deceased. Doreen A. Berry-Laskey, PO Box 328, Rockwood, Me 04478 appointed Personal Representative.

2020-079 – Estate of PETER J. DYER, late of Fairfield, Me deceased. Frederick J. Dyer, Jr., 285 Center Road, Fairfield, Me 04937 appointed Personal Represenative.

2020-080 – Estate of LINDA L. FANJOY, late of Skowhegan, Me deceased. Judith A. Mantor, 476 Thurston Hill Road, Madison, Me 04950 appointed Personal Representative.

To be published on March 26, 2020 & April 2, 2020.

Dated: March 23, 2020 /s/ Victoria Hatch, Register of Probate

Vassalboro Planning Board public hearing canceled

The Vassalboro Planning Board public hearing on amendments to the shoreland zoning ordinance, scheduled for Tuesday, April 7, has been canceled, according to Codes Enforcement Officer Paul Mitnick.

Public Service Announcement: Coronavirus Symptoms

Due to popular demand, The Town Line newspaper is reprinting the chart below. Click to enlarge it for better reading.

INside the OUTside: Mild winter cuts ski season prematurely short

Paule Bergeron, center, account executive for Québec City Tourism, speaks with CVOA members during a ski trip to Québec City recently. (photo by Dan Cassidy)

Dan Cassidyby Dan Cassidy

What was turning into a lackluster ski season beginning with mid-to-late December and running into March, the ski area of choice, Sugarloaf Mountain had put out a tremendous amount of coverage from their snow guns covering trails from January to mid-February when all snowmaking hoses and guns went silent.

Thanks to the weather, occasional snow showers kept the trails in pristine condition, thanks to groomers that kept the corduroy slopes in top shape.

While ski conditions were in great shape, unfortunately, Mother Nature didn’t help much as wind, cloudiness and low light made it more difficult to enjoy the runs.

In mid-February, about 20 (CVOA) Carrabassett Valley Outdoor Association skiers and snowboarders ventured to Québec City for four days. The group was spearheaded by Peter and Judy Weston. Our lodging was at the Manoir Victoria right at the entrance of the “Old” City where the Winter Carnival was being held. The hotel provided a large conference room for our convenience to enjoy Happy Hour each evening.

Our first day on the slopes was spent at Mount Saint Anne, where we enjoyed fresh snow, wonderful trail conditions and pristine views of the Saint Lawrence River and Québec City that was visible towards the south.

Our second day we traveled north to LeMassif, a great ski resort that is about to get much larger, thanks to a new Club Med hotel that is under construction along with several condos along the shore of the Saint Lawrence River, and due to open next season. Also, right at the river’s edge are railroad tracks that transport passengers from Québec City through Le Massif and onto Bay Saint-Paul, a beautiful four-season village. Le Massif is also the training slopes of the Canadian Ski Team.

Our third resort that we visited was Stoneham located about an hour to the north-west of Québec City. Although it snowed all day, it seemed that the ski conditions improved while we were there. On this particular day, trails were not crowded and the snow was very light.

Our last evening at Happy Hour, I invited Paule Bergeron, business development account executive of Québec City Tourism, to tell our group about all the many things that Québec has to offer, both winter and summer. She informed us about all the wintertime activities that included skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, attending the many outdoor activities during their huge winter carnival right into spring and summer with all the carnivals, paved biking trails, boating, museums, hiking and many other activities.

Clean your ski gear

So now, with plenty of snow still lingering in the mountains of Maine, but with no lifts turning and gatherings not allowed due to an unseen virus that has destroyed many thousands of lives, I’ve already taken down cleaned and stored my on-the-roof ski box, cleaned my skis, boots and all my ski gear and stowed them away until next year. Just a note on putting ski gear away, be sure to pull your inner boots out of the exterior boots, wipe them down, apply a light coating of powder inside the inner boots and store. That way, you’ll be sure the inner boots will be dry and ready for next season.

As soon as temps rise and the predicted snowstorms melt away, it will be time to get out the bike and do some serious riding to stay in shape. Be sure to check out all the parts of your bike, check the brakes, lubricate and make sure your tires are in good shape.

Hope to catch up with you on some bike trails and really hope this COVID-19 gets busted! Stay healthy and stay safe!

SOLON & BEYOND: Hopefully, April scheduled production will still happen

Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percyby Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
Solon, Maine 04979

Good morning, dear friends. Don’t worry, be happy!

Instead of all the bad news out there, I’m going to start with a wonderful message I received on our family website from my daughter in law, Sherry Rogers. “In a society that has you counting money, pounds, calories, and steps, be a rebel and count your blessings instead. (Peter started this family website several years ago, and it has made this mother very, very happy!) I hope you all like its message, Thanks, Sherry.

Received an e-mail from Diana Perkins on March 9, but hadn’t put it in until the date of the event was closer. Now I’m going to print it and hope when the time comes, it won’t have been canceled. A travelling Production Company will be giving their annual live drama presentation of Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames at the Riverside Assembly Church, 32 Water Street , Fairfield, on Sunday April 26, Monday April 27, and Tuesday April 28, at 7 p.m., show times. Free admission! For more information call (207)453-7342. All are welcome!

She ended her note with the following words, which really made my day! Dear Marilyn, I read your column religiously and enjoy all your news. I hope that this can be used in your column when the appropriate week is closer. If this cannot be used in your column, please let me know the appropriate person to contact to have this announced in our area. Thanks for all the good information that you share with readers.

The following information is from Angela Stockwell: Dear Readers, The March newsletter is ready for viewing. With the spread of coronavirus throughout the world and into Maine, the library is closed to the public until April 6. Many of the articles within the newsletter may mention event dates and deadlines which may have been postponed or canceled. Please check the MCS Library Facebook page for updates at The staff is working from home and technology will allow us to keep abreast of inquires.

Featured in the newsletter are articles about the essay contest and National History Day in Maine, the newest exhibit, our newest staff member, new leadership, as well as a visit by “Flat Stanley.” A reminder to “Save the Date” for May 22 for the annual Maine Town Meeting. As Dr. Richards reminds us in his “Directions” article, “Wash your hands and sneeze into your arm. Take care and stay well. ” Again, my thanks for that information.

And now some news from Happy Knits in Skowhegan; Dear Yarn Friends, At a time when it seems like the world out there is changing from one hour to the next, one thing we can rely on is our own connection to each other. That won’t change, even if we have to adjust our lives temporarily to keep each other safe and healthy.

From the time being, we have decided to suspend our group knitting activities (Tuesday nights and Thursday afternoons) for the sake of our patrons and staff. This is a temporary measure, and will resume as soon as we hear that it is safe to do so.

As yarn and fiber users, we all have our handwork to fall back on if we need to hunker down at home for a bit. In that way we are so much more fortunate than others. If we have to slow down our human interactions for awhile, we still can reach out to each other in other ways. Let’s keep in touch.

There is only room for a short one of Percy’s memoirs this morning. I don’t know who wrote it. It was on a small piece of paper that I had printed it on… “Old gardeners never die, they just lose their bloomers!”

GARDEN WORKS: Getting through times of change

Elisabeth, 14, in an office in Babelsberg, Germany, in 1954. (contributed photo.)

Advice from a survivor of WWII

Emily Catesby Emily Cates

Well, folks, I was planning on writing another article in my series about good finds from seed catalogs, but with everything happening with COVID-19, I figured it would be prudent to write about something more relevant. In this new era of uncertainty and social distancing, many of us appreciate helpful information on how to get through it all.

While unprecedented to most of us in modern America, these circumstances are surprisingly similar to events experienced by those in our area nearly a century ago during the Great Depression, and also by folks who made it through World War I – World War II in Europe and beyond. In this article I will share with you a few things I gleaned from discussions I’ve had with my mother-in-law, Elisabeth, who survived World War II and lived for decades in Communist East Germany (DDR) before a dramatic opportunity in 1969 led her to Maine. While her story could fill an entire book, I’ll try to highlight the weightier points, and add a few that other family members have pointed out to me.

One of the first things she mentioned was how grocery shopping in the past week or two reminded her and family and friends back home of grocery stores in the former DDR. Many shelves now, like then, are empty as shoppers engage in panic-buying and hoarding. Back then, you had to buy something when you saw it, since you never knew when or if you’d see it again. However, she remarked how unnecessary it is for shoppers here to behave this way, since our infrastructure — unlike the DDR’s — is intact and operating.

Yes, Elisabeth thinks it’s always a good idea to be stocked-up on necessities at all times, but preferably before a crisis, so that others who have a real need are able to obtain their groceries. “You’re not going to starve to death,” she says, “since even if your food gets stolen, you can go outside to your garden and also find edible weeds. You might not get what you want, but you will find something.” I’ll take that advice, since it comes from someone who oftentimes refused to eat so that her little sister would have food.

Another point she mentioned was how useful it was to have a garden. With her thick accent, she affirms: “Plant lots of beans and peas; plant carrots, beets, and other root vegetables.” In the aftermath of World War I, in the winter of 1919-1920, many inhabitants of Continental Europe, including Elisabeth’s father, had mostly turnips to eat. Every recipe you could imagine was made with turnips, including turnip jam. Naturally, when other foods became available, few folks ever wanted to even think about a turnip again. While one could argue we’re not — yet — in the same situation here, the point is to never underestimate the power of root vegetables to sustain humankind through turbulent times. How much better, though, to have a nice variety of them, rather than just one!

As they were able to, many folks in Post-World War II Europe did what they could to get by. Those that had the room and circumstances took advantage of every opportunity to be self-sufficient, including raising chickens, scooping up horse manure from the street for the garden, and bartering. Regarding sweets (from which many of us would be hard-pressed to abstain), Elisabeth’s parents had a huge washtub in their cellar in which they boiled down sugar beets for syrup because they couldn’t obtain granulated sugar. They would have this syrup as a sweet treat once a week and for special occasions. They also raised goats for milk and meat, but on one occasion they fell in love with the baby goat, and after Oma spent hours preparing a roast of it, nobody in the family could eat it. They gave the roast to their neighbor.

The last thing that comes to mind from our conversations is the importance of a meditative space in stressful times. Oftentimes overlooked, but equally important, is the mind-healing properties of a garden. When everything around us seems to crumble, the natural world reassures us of the bigger picture. In the garden we share a place where we can be nourished, grounded, and guided. May we never lose sight of what really matters, and be there for each other no matter what comes our way.

In closing for this article, I’d like to hear your thoughts. What do you think would help us get through tough times? Please leave a comment on our website or Facebook, or email me at

Take care, be safe, and best wishes for the Springtime.