Pat Shingleton: "The President and Cutting the Turf..."
Recognizing the birthday of our first president on this date in 1732, we review weather related excerpts from his diaries. Washington was not a scientific observer of the weather, as was Thomas Jefferson. His weather interests mirrored his agricultural interests and in writing to his farm manager, William Pearce on December 22, 1793, he recognized the importance of a thermometer at Mount Vernon. His diary notes the weather difficulties that he experienced, including his seasick days during a stormy voyage to Barbados and the cruel winter at Valley Forge. An ill-advised horseback ride in a December storm could have contributed to his death. His prized weather instrument was the weather vane, remaining in use atop the cupola at Mount Vernon. Finally, In Ireland; “if you can see the mountains, it’s about to rain, if you can’t– it’s raining.” Many still “cut the turf,” setting it aside to dry in the warm sun as the dry peat is later used as a heat source. Within the fireplace, the “clamp of turf” has a pleasant aroma. On this date in 1968, in Connemara, farmer Steven Coyne, with his family of seven, was collecting peat when he noticed a 12 foot long beast with a long, slender neck, no eyes on its head, two snail like antennae, slick, black skin and two humps on its back with a flat tail. In 1954, a Connemara librarian, Belinda Finnegan, sister of Junior, looked out the "winda" and saw a similar creature while fishing with Ivar Quigley.