One hundred and fifty years ago, life was turned upside-down for residents in our communities. Stafford County was occupied by Union troops. Fredericksburg changed hands many times between Union and Confederate and was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Spotsylvania County had the battles of Spotsylvania Courthouse, the Wilderness, and Chancellorsville. Thousands of men encamped and fought here. Many died here. Our state—even just our own area--has some of the most fought-over ground in the country.
Popcorn was grown by Native Americans long before the Europeans came to the New World. The Aztecs used it, strung into garlands, in their religious ceremonies. Peruvians toasted and ate their popcorn, which was called pisancalla. During the 1830's, it was "discovered" by American farmers who, using a new kind of plow, planted acres and acres of it during the 1850s. By the turn of the 19th century, popcorn vendors could be found in every big city. They'd sell their wares by the bag or the ball and make a profit of about 70 cents on every dollar!
Wilbur Munro Leaf is best known for his beloved book, The Story of Ferdinand. It’s the tale of a peaceful yet rebellious bull that would rather enjoy the flowers in his meadow than fight in an arena. Munro Leaf and his friend, award-winning artist and writer Robert Lawson, had been talking about the kind of book they would want to write if they could get past the publisher’s ideas of what made a good book. It took him less than an hour—“25 minutes on a rainy Saturday”--to scribble down the story on a yellow pad of paper. With Lawson’s illustrations, the beatific bull was on his way to becoming internationally famous for his peaceful message in 1936--a time when the world was coming apart in war.
"The Smartest Readers"
Our readers are smart, and we've got the data to prove it. According to a survey from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), CRRL's readers are extraordinary, ranking fifth out of 546 comparable groups of library users throughout the nation for number of checkouts for each person who lives in the area. In other words, our readers use their library-a lot!
A Star Library
For the past several years, the professional publication Library Journal has used surveys to decide which libraries are giving the best levels of service to their patrons. Once again, Central Rappahannock Regional Library has earned its stars, according to the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service-all the more remarkable in a period of severe budget cuts. Yet perhaps these hard times make people all the more aware of what their libraries can provide for them when their own financial resources are spread thinner.
CRRL director Donna Cote comments, "We are thrilled to continue to find our library ranked among the nation's best. When times are tough, people turn to their public libraries more than ever. It says a lot about our staff as well as our overwhelming public support that we have been honored in this way."
It's Maggie's favorite day of the year in Wende and Harry Devlin's Cranberry Thanksgiving. She and her grandmother live on a New England cranberry farm. It's lonely and cold at the edge of the sea, but on Thanksgiving the house is warm with lots of good cooking. As part of their family tradition, Maggie and Grandma have each invited someone who otherwise would have to spend Thanksgiving alone.
There are definitely times when friends and neighbors need a little comfort food. It might be a joyful event--new baby, new house--or it might be in sorrowful times such as a long illness, death, or divorce. Chef Sara Quessenberry and writer Suzanne Schlosberg’s The Good Neighbor Cookbook is an excellent source for the family cook who needs some fresh ideas for food to share.
Recipes range from savory (Smoky Corn Chowder) to sweet (Roasted Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies). They are designed to satisfy, to travel well, and to not require a lot of fussing in the kitchen. Although these recipes work great for times of crisis, these same qualities make them great for book club gatherings, church potlucks, or business breakfasts.
Where Are the Great Plains?
The Great Plains are the part of North America east of the Rocky Mountains and west of the Mississippi River. The American states that are part of this region are Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. The land there is flat and includes prairie, steppe and grassland.
Who Are the Plains Indians?
There were many differently-named tribes who lived on the Great Plains when the Europeans came, but they mostly shared a common culture because of living in similar environments. The buffalo (bison) was a major source of food along with other game and cultivated crops. They also gathered wild fruits and vegetables. Nomadic (roaming) tribes lived in large teepees, often painted with religious symbols. Tribes that did not roam often lived in earthen or grass lodges and would grow crops.
Libraries are chock full of Marjorie Sharmat’s books, especially the many tales of her young detective, Nate the Great. Nate is indeed great—at solving mysteries--but only after a plate of pancakes! Nate the Great is the start of one of the most popular series ever written for beginning readers. These mysteries are also drily witty and have been enjoyed by kids and adults alike.
As a girl, Marjorie Weinman was rather shy. She enjoyed playing the piano, reading and drawing. But her ambitions were not so tame. When she grew up, she wanted to be a writer or a detective or a lion tamer! With a friend, she published The Snooper’s Gazette; filled with news they learned by spying on grown-ups! She kept writing throughout her high school years, eventually getting published in school magazines and newspapers.
Each November 28 is celebrated as “Red Planet Day.” Red Planet Day commemorates the launch of the Spacecraft Mariner 4 on November 28, 1964. Its 228-day mission brought the spacecraft within 6,118 miles of Mars on July 14, 1965, sending us back the first close-up photos of the red planet.
Mars is a very bright planet, and when it’s in range, you can usually see it without a telescope. Of course, if you have a telescope—or binoculars—you will get a better look. Fortunately, in November the skies are usually clear, and Mars can sometimes be seen in the early morning. With the Internet, you can find a star chart or other guide to show you where the planets should be in the night sky. If you can’t see the stars where you are because of light pollution, ask if your parents can take you out in the countryside where the view is better.
It’s been said an army travels on its stomach, and though many of the starving Confederate troops at the war’s end were still willing to fight, ultimately it was a physically broken army returning to their devastated, burned out farms that sounded the death knell of the nascent nation, so contends gastronomical historian Andrew F. Smith in his recent book, Starving the South.