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tradition

Nov 23 2012

Grandma’s Hands

by Veronica W

Bubbe. Nonny. Ona. Abuela. Grammy. Ya ya. Big Mama. Mee Maw. Grandmother. Bill Withers, on his album Live at Carnegie Hall,  says, as an introduction to one of my favorite tunes, “People walk up to me and say ‘I loved my grandmother too.’ ” On the album, when he says that, the audience claps and cheers, because they know what’s coming—one of his signature songs, Grandma’s Hands.

I didn’t know my grandmothers and I always listen enviously when my older sisters talk about Gramma Ella’s pies or something she said, did or believed. My own granddaughter is blessed with not only two grandmothers but also two great grandmothers. As a self absorbed teenager, she probably doesn’t appreciate all the advice, virtual cheek pinching and general minding of her business that she gets—except at Christmas and on birthdays, of course.

In his song, Withers chronicles some of the things his Grandma’s hands—as extensions of her heart—used to do: “clapped in church on Sunday morning, picked me up each time I fell, soothed a local unwed mother, though they ached sometimes and swelled.”

Looking in the library’s catalog, you’ll find there are about 980 hits when you search the word “grandmother.” In fiction and nonfiction, grandmas are something special; according to Withers, “great, big ole love machines.”  Because there are too many books to number, I will highlight only one exceptional book, Grand Mothers: Poems, Reminiscences, and Short Stories About the Keepers of Our Traditions. Edited by Nikki Giovanni, this book is filled with the memories, the traditions and the love of grandmothers, as recalled by many well known authors.

I love the part of the title which says grandmothers are “keepers of tradition.” In a world which often dismisses tradition as unnecessary or obsolete, our grandmothers draw us close, rub our backs and remind us of the relevance of the past. Perhaps you have some favorite books or memories you would like to share; perhaps, like Withers’  enthusiastic audience, you can say “I loved my grandmother too.” And how do we know that we were loved in return? As Toni Morrison says in this wonderful book, “What you talkin’ bout, did I love you? Girl, I stayed alive for you!” What an awesome gift.

 

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Feb 2 2012

Groundhog Day

by Joseph M

These days, meteorologists use a wide variety of technologies to predict upcoming weather patterns, from weather balloons to Doppler radar.  On February 2nd, however, modern techniques take a back seat to a decidedly less scientific method.  I’m talking, of course, about Groundhog Day.  How does a groundhog forecast the weather?  Here’s the answer, courtesy of Wikipedia:  “According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, it will leave the burrow, signifying that winter-like weather will soon end. If it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks.”

Explanations differ as to the exactly how or where the custom originated, but it has been linked to German settlers in central and southeastern Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Many areas now have festivals celebrating local groundhog soothsayers.  The most famous of these events is probably the one held in Punxsutawney, PA (popularized in the film Groundhog Day), where the star of the show is Punxsutawney Phil.  Georgia has its own groundhog prognosticator, General Beauregard Lee, who lives at the Yellow River Game Ranch outside Atlanta, Georgia.  You can visit his website here.

Interestingly enough, Punxsutawney Phil and General Beauregard Lee had conflicting predictions this year.  The Pennsylvania groundhog forecasted six more weeks of Winter, but the General declared we could expect an early Spring.

Visit our catalog to find out more about groundhogs, meteorology, and lots of other fun stuff!

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Oct 28 2011

All Hallows Read

by Jimmy L

This Halloween, consider giving someone a scary book. That’s the whole idea behind All Hallows Read, a fun project that writer Neil Gaiman wishes will start a new yearly tradition. Watch Neil himself  as he explains the idea :

 

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