Some Folks Say Winter Is Gone

Around this time of the year in these parts, everyone has just about had all the winter they want and are looking for better days ahead. It has been reported that the groundhog didn’t see his shadow, so winter should be almost over. I don’t take a whole lot of stock in a rodent that lives in the ground and eats up my garden to forecast the weather, but if it gets us out of all this cold weather, I’ll even plant him an extra “mater” plant this year.

Moving from critters to science predicting the weather, which at times is also questionable, Accuweather has forecast a wild spring ahead with above-normal severe weather and even says that it could be even wilder than the one last year. Their meteorologists have also reported that the severe weather season could get off to a late start due to the fact that sea surface temperatures across the Gulf of Mexico are below normal. With that being the fact, it looks like April and May will be the better months to keep the path clear to the storm shelter. At least keep those batteries fresh in your weather radio. Don’t have one? I suggest you get one, because they sure keep you alert when it comes to Tennessee storms.

The good part of the recent report I received from Heather Buchman with AccuWeather.com was that she says, “Winter is generally over for the South.” You will notice that I did quote this from AccuWeather.com because I don’t want anyone blaming me for having to shovel all that “no winter” off their car in a couple of weeks when a six-inch snow just happens to show up out of nowhere. But, the Accuweather.com long-range forecasters give an outlook of above normal in the coming months. Paul Pastelok who makes his living by making long-range forecasts says, “The one key with the long-range forecast is the South, where I think the extremes of cold are gone.”

I wouldn’t start planting the garden just yet by this forecast, but it would be a good time to get your seeds ordered and an early start on your neighbor to plant those tomato seeds indoors. I’ve already put in a special request to the Coop for some Mountain Fresh tomato seeds, which we found out last year a lot of folks picked to make their “mater saminchs” with at local farmers markets. You may remember I did a column about how to make the perfect “mater saminch” and must say I got a lot of suggestions on how to improve on my recipe. Because of that column, it even led to a video on tnhomeandfarm.com on how to pick the right tomato for your saminch and how to make it with me as the “mater saminch” making star of the movie. I would like to say it was right up there with the new True Grit movie, but it really was more compared to the Grit newspaper, that used to be sold door to door. It did get a lot fo lks checking it out and the tomato that seemed to be the people’s choice at the area farmers markets was the Mountain Fresh tomato that was pretty large in size. In fact, one slice covered a whole piece of light bread and was as sweet as could be.

I’ve decided this year that I’m going to grow some of my own and plan to start them out in my sunroom in peat pots. I did this a couple of years ago and had more tomatoes than I ever needed, but it was fun just the same. Maybe this year I’ll have a “mater saminch” party where you pick your own and I furnish the light bread along with the Miracle Whip. And yes, I do use Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise, because that is what I like. I would suggest everyone to his or her own taste.

Maybe the winter weather is about gone, but don’t put your coat away and get out the Bermuda shorts just yet. I still think March will have a surprise or two for us yet to come. Let’s use these warm days of the winter thaw to plan for spring and be ready to have the first “mater” at prayer meeting supper.    

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– Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at pread@tfbf.com.

Picture map from AccuWeather.com