xt7jh98zct60_18 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7jh98zct60/data/mets.xml https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7jh98zct60/data/2015ms086.dao.xml Bevins, Martha 0.05 Cubic Feet 55 items archival material 2015ms086 English University of Kentucky The physical rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.  Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Martha Bevins letters to Tom McCarthy Radio broadcasting. Agriculture -- Kentucky. Birds Women air pilots. 1957 March 27 text 1957 March 27 2016 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7jh98zct60/data/2015ms086/Box_ms_42/Folder_1/Item_18/1957_3_27_Bevins_Tobacco_Bed_Spring_p1.pdf 1957 March 27 1957 1957 March 27 section false xt7jh98zct60_18 xt7jh98zct60 ,
Morning View
27 March 1957

Hello Mr. McCarthy,
Last Saturday Was the first day of Tobacco Bed Spring. It, like

. Indian summer, is an indeterminate period, neither starting nor
ending on predestined dates, and of a most variable duration. Last
year it Was crowded into three breathlessly perfect days. This
spring it is obviously going to be made up of good days picked out
from amid stretches of bad weather, for, after all, its arrival
date and life span are governed solely by weather.
I think I must have named it Tobacco Bed Spring, for I cannot
remember ever hearing anyone else so designate it. In fact, most
people take no cogniZance of it at all, as a small, distinct, very
delectable slice of the year. It is, in brief, those few days
in early spring when burning tobacco beds send up little trickles
and puffs of smoke from hillside and valley floor. ,
Burning tobacco beds before sowing the seed is eminently practical.
Properly done, it destroys weed seeds and insects to the depth of

. some few inches, thereby decreasing the foes with which the frail,

fussy seedlings Will be forced to contends The fire must be of Just
the right volume arfl duration. Insufficient heat fails to bring
proper destruction to the pests, and too much fire bakes the lumps

. of this hOStile Eden Shale soil into little red bricks of the
consistency and hardness of Vermont granite.
I know all about the latter condition. My first tobacco bed, after a
nice, fat, enjoyable fire, was paved to the depth of several inches
with well baked little lumps of earth of a most uninviting redness.
Their indestructibility is attested to by the fact that, to this day,
beyond the tobacco patch, they remain heaped as I raked them off
the bed, defying alike winter snbws and freezes as well as summer
downpours. “' _
I will not mention what happened when I planted the seeds. I Was
well armed with UK bulletins on tobacco growth. J'hese bulletins
assumed a certain basic knowledge which I did not have. ‘hey were
Fifth Grade readers, so to speak, and I needed a primer.
nll of which has nothing to do with Saturday. I Was not burning

‘ a tobacco bed, but busied myself transplanting Dianthus in the
flowerbeds on the slepe above the pond.

. The Sunshine touched the sheltered hillside with sufficient warmth
to be reflected back from the thick grass around the bare soil of
the beds. The breeze, rich with the scent of wood smoke from tobacco
bed fires, was so slight as to be scarcely more than air seepage.
Half a dozen different early spring blooms sparkled in the beds,
the iris reticulata standing out in patches of strong blue.

I was lazy about my planting. For that one day at least, the enchanted

fingers of spring lay firm upon the land. It was good to feel. Titmice,
Chickadees, Blue Jays, Cardinals and even Woodpeckers interrupted me
frequently for bits of peanut. A male Chewink flashed his glowing
spring plumage as he scratched dilligently in the next bed. I tossed
him a plump grub and he went happily off to the tree patch with it.
The next grub was rather large, but I gave it to a Chickadee to see
what he would do with it. He turned it over several times and worried
it about until he could grasp it firmly, talking all the while, then
bore it triumphantly aWay to a maple sapling at the edge of the trees.
Dcarcely had he settled down to eat it when he Was beset by a perfect
cloud of his brother Chickadees, whereupon he fled with the rest in
loud pursuit. +hey disappeared among the trees so I cannot say how
it ended. ' .
K white butterfly wavered past, the first I had seen this spring, and
a male red bird just arriving for a peanut, neatly picked the butterfly
out of the air and departed with its white wings extending out each
side of his bill like sudden whiskers.
For a few moments I remained motionless while a flock of tiny Chipping
Sparrows passed around me with little more than a brief stare in my
direction, though some were quite‘close as they worked through the
grass and across the flowerbeds. hey are primarily seed eaters but
almost all birds rejoice in the first ppring appearance of insects,
and one of the little sparrows paused to help himself to a small bug
on the freshly turned earth beside flue hole where I was going to set
out the next Dianthus. Deveral stood at the edge of the hole, peering
curiously into it with much stretching of necks. Then they were gone,
their bubbling talk trailing behind them.
Redwing Blackbirds sang back and.forth across the pond. I have never
seen one sing without momentarily puffing his sleek coat into a ragged
ball of feathers as the notes come forth. I wonder if they can sing
without the accompanying gesture of sudden explosion. Killdeer called
on the slope above me, no doubt again selecting nesting sites in the
tobacco and garden area. Each year little weedy islands stand amid
the tobacco and vegetables until the young Killdeer have left the nest
and the spot can be cultivated. I am always nervous about stepping
on the nests until I locate them.
On the grassy slope between the flowerbeds and pond stand numerous
seedling walnut trees, stout little trunks about a yard high with two
or three stubby branches. atop each little tree Was a bright blue know -—
a Bluebird. From that vantage point he scanned the grass around him,
dropping swiftly earthward for the easy capture of any visible insect.
Each seems to have his favorite tree, and there is much gentle hubbub
when one usurps the perch of another.
Across a distant field marched a great pig, black save for a broad .
white cummerbund. thind her, like the wavering tail of a kite,
trotted a long line of very tiny pigs, similarly clad. I had finished
setting another silvery Dianthus when the distant din of the wast
mother pig drew my eyes again in that direction. The kite tail of
little pigs, I discovered, had seeped through the wire fence out onto
the highway. It must indeed be spring, I thought, when that particular
farmer had little pigs out on the road along with his chickens which
are alWays there. His theory appears to be that if the grown pigs cannot
get through the fences, the baby pigs will not wander far before being

 fan i I
_ -3.-
called back by the mother. Neither his chickens nor tiny pigs are
often traffic fatalities for the simple reason that his land lies
on an extremely sharp curve in the road around which one can

proceed only at quite slow speeds. I suppose it is a very comfortable
Way to farm if a person is not the worrying type. I Watched several
cars struggle through the assortment of little black pigs and big
White chickens, then resolutely turned away.

”here the pond-field slopes up through clumps of puck bush to the
tree patch, the rabbit I hand-raised hopped slowly along, her face
almost obscured by the bristling mass of selected grasses she .
carried in her mouth. I carefully noted the exact location of the nest
she Was building in order to reach it quickly in case of trouble.

A constant, unseen background to these varied spring activities was
the gentle breeza with its Spicy burden of wood smoke. It lacked

the richness of smoke encountered flying low over the Carolinas or
Georgia early on a spring morning, when every little chimney puffs
pure incense into the chill air, as pine knots are set ablaze in

the fireplace below.

But the Kentucky smoke of locust and oak and maple Was pleasant
enough, except when some farmer hurled several old tires into his
fire to make it burn better, and the breeze was, for a few moments,
more indicative of a bad day in Akron, than of Tobacco Bed Spring.

I regretted the completion of my planting, which left me with no
further excuse for lingering on the sunny hillstde as spring

touched all things into Joyous animation.

J/B "’V'kfi/M \