Cryptid in the Kale

I didn’t have any problem when the Sasquatch wandered out of the woods and down the hill from behind my house, but when it headed for my patch of kale in the garden that has fed me all winter, it was too much.

“See here!” I shouted as I stormed out the door, “What do you think you’re doing?”

The Sasquatch looked me up and down and then sniffed. Loudly.

“Just having a little bit of nourishment from this modest patch.” Feminine voice, but her shape gave me no clues–she was covered in shaggy brown hair from head to foot, and towered over me.

“So who ARE you?”

“I’m a cryptid.” She spit the words at me.

“Cryptid? What are you talking about?”

“A cryptid! Don’t you read? Good grief–I can’t believe you humans don’t keep up with what’s happening in government! Your crazy state legislature is considering making me Washington State’s official cryptid. Can you believe it?”

I wasn’t sure what to say, so she continued, “You do know what a cryptid is, don’t you?” I shook my head.

“Oh honestly! Mythical creatures! Creatures that haven’t yet been proven to exist! Me! They’re calling me a cryptid! They’re putting me in the same category as that silly Loch Ness Monster! Look it up if you don’t believe it. Wikipedia has a long list of cryptids and I’m on it. Even my cousin Yeti is on it. What a farce!”

She had continued pulling off leaves and munching as she ranted, but now she paused and lowered her voice, “Um, might you have a nice bottle of Chardonnay to accompany these lovely greens?”

I shook my head. No way was I giving alcohol to a Sasquatch.

“So are there a lot of you cryptids around?”

“I am NOT a cryptid–here, pinch me–I’m real!” No way was I going to pinch her, either.

“You mean the real unreal cryptids, right? There’s the Hakawai from New Zealand, a mythical bird that people have heard but never seen. And the Kaijin from Japan–a sea monster most frightening. You know about Nessie, of course. But how about the Beast of Bladenboro from North Carolina? An ugly vampire, a cat-like monster. You don’t want to cross paths with that one! And oh, so many others. But I do not belong in that club, and I do so hope the legislature straightens out this gross misconception.”

She gave me a long look. “Hmmm….might you help me? It wouldn’t be so difficult. You could start by calling your senators and representatives. Maybe you could write a letter to the governor? I know–send a postcard to the president and ask him to give these jokers the facts! Have you friends? Perhaps a march–yes, a march would be excellent! That’s a delightful idea!” Her eyes glowed as she looked off into the distance.

As she pondered that idea, I stepped back and scooted into the house. I figured she wouldn’t venture any closer. The letters and phone calls? I suppose I could contact my senator and let her know that I saw a very real Sasquatch in my garden. A march? I knew some people with marching experience. I suppose I could contact a few friends and get something started. If it doesn’t work out, you might see someone on the street corner with a sign, SASQUATCHES ARE REAL. It’s me.

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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!