The Writing’s on the Wall

February is a month of hope. We can see the days getting longer. We often see just a few more days of sunshine. I start browsing the seed catalog and planning my veggie garden on paper.

Toshiba Digital Camera

Toshiba Digital Camera

I’m not sure how many of you read the business section of your newspaper, but if you don’t, you might need to. Whether we like it or not (and I don’t), money shapes much (most?) of our world. However, even if we see dirty footprints wandering through those pages, sometimes we get a glimpse of humanity and even hope.

The Sunday Seattle Times on January 26, 2020, carried a story in its business section, “The Climate Crisis Is Reshaping the World of Finance.” Granted, it’s written by three environmentalists, but the facts they were reporting were enough to cause two of us in my house to rustle the newspaper, sit up and take notice.

Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, a company that holds an 8 to 11% stake of every company in the Fortune 500, has announced in his annual letter to CEO’s that they now expect to see business plans for “operating under a scenario where the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees is fully realized,” as well as “hold accountable” present board members who don’t make significant progress toward that goal. The climate crisis has become so severe, he had said, that it has become a force that will “fundamentally reshape” the world of finance.

Goldman Sachs, the powerful bank on Wall Street? It has recently prohibited funding of coal mines, power plants and Arctic oil drilling projects, the authors report.

I think most of us are aware of the major moves in Europe by the financial sector, especially the big banks. The authors cite other major changes here in our country among insurance companies, and also fossil fuel disinvestment among religious institutions, pension funds, university endowments, and charitable foundations.

As we witness worse storms, more unpredictable weather, devastating wildfires, life-threatening heat in the southern hemisphere and other areas of the world, and a federal government that stands idly on the sidelines–or worse yet, unravels previous legislation that might have helped, our spirits need to see some positive, hopeful action. It’s not a perfect picture, the authors point out, but these are some signs that the financial world is changing as our Earth changes. Time will tell if it’s changing fast enough.

“Not only is another world possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” — Arundhati Roy

The Month of Kale

So January leads the march of the months, and then here comes February, keeping step right behind it. But did you know that originally there were only 10 months in the calendar, and January and February never existed? That explains why several of our months have names that don’t match their “number names,” like October (8), November (9), and December (10).

Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, added January and February in the 700’s B.C., and then adjusted the number of days in each month. February was named for a Roman festival of purification, Februa. Incidentally, dictionaries now say this month’s name can be pronounced either “FebRUary” or “FebUary,” even though some of us had the first pronunciation so pounded in by grade school teachers, we’ll never accept the alternate.

What I find most interesting about this month is what happened to it in England. Before we started using the Latin name, this month was called “Solmonath,” or “mud month” in Old English. I think we can all identify with that during this time of year.

The other name that was sometimes used was “Kale-monath,” or “cabbage month.” Some have speculated that people were eating a lot of cabbage that month. Perhaps they were using up vegetables that had been stored over the winter? The more popular theory is that this was the month that cabbage and kale sprouted.

Cabbage and kale are closely related, so I’m choosing to believe that families back in the 1100’s in England were treasuring their kale plants that might have not only survived the winter, but were also yielding fresh leaves as the weather warmed.

Cabbage may have been stored inside through the winter, but my one vegetable crop that over-winters beautifully outside in the garden is kale. When the farmer’s markets are closed for the winter and the supermarket greens look a little suspect, I run outside and clip a few leaves for dinner–and the plant continues to grow and sprout more leaves.

Toshiba Digital Camera

This is a photo of my stand of kale last spring. I’d been harvesting from it all winter, so it was getting scrawny, but then as the weather warmed, it leafed out like crazy!

Kale has been called one of the “most nutrient dense foods on the planet.” My favorite way of fixing kale? Wash the leaves, tear out the tough stalk, and then tenderize it. Use a big spoon to beat it if you’re squeamish (or if someone is watching!), or simply roll a handful of leaves back and forth on a flat surface with your hands until it wilts a bit. Chop it, add some lemon juice, a little olive oil (or not), maybe a favorite seasoning, and then whatever you have on hand that sounds good–dried cranberries, chopped onions, grated carrots (or cheese), some leftover cooked veggies, raisins, chopped red or green peppers, sunflower seeds, some fresh fruit, pumpkin seeds. Sometimes I mix it with cabbage. Occasionally, I add a dab of honey. Every time you serve a kale salad, it will be unique.

My closest friends know how I feel about kale. Anytime someone suggests going back to the name “Kale-monath,” I’m in!