Leap Day


Today is Leap Day, the extra day added to the end of February every four years since the adaptation of the Gregorian calendar in 1582 to ensure that the rest of the calendar remains properly aligned with the seasons. At first the adjusted calendar was accepted only by Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain. Over the centuries it was introduced elsewhere, reluctantly, sometimes followed by public rioting, with Great Britain’s American colonies making the change in 1752, and China being the last in 1912.

According to tradition, Leap Day is the day that a woman may propose marriage to a man, instead of the other way around. And if he declines, he is obliged to compensate her with a gift of new gloves, presumably to hide her shameful ring-free hands. Think twice, ladies, before testing to see if this still works; he may surprise you and say Yes.

CakeWeddingAnnette & Jim

(Once every four years they get to celebrate on the correct date)

In Fountain Court

Today is the birthday of poet Arthur Symons (1865-1945), and I post in his honor this watercolor and poem, although it seems more suitable for a romantic Midsummer Eve than the end of February.

He shares his birthday with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), and for a mini-bio, a painting, and the unforgettable opening lines of “Evangeline,” please see Oh Canada…Oh Henry.

The fountain murmuring of sleep,
A drowsy tune;
The flickering green of leaves that keep
The light of June;
Peace, through a slumbering afternoon,
The peace of June.

A waiting ghost, in the blue sky,
The white curved moon;
June, hushed and breathless, waits, and I
Wait too, with June;
Come, through the lingering afternoon,
Soon, love, come soon.
—Arthur Symons

An Apple a Day


I post this painting today in memory of Steve Jobs. It’s an odd coincidence that his birthday follows the anniversary yesterday of the first printing of the Gutenberg Bible, another communications technology supernova to which the Apple computer, with its many offspring, is comparable. The ways in which we interact, work, and educate and entertain ourselves have been transformed through Steve Jobs’ vision, brilliance, and determination. He would have been 57 today.


Breakfast With Superboy


Here is a portrait painted many birthdays ago. But my son still requests the same birthday breakfast—pancakes (for which he stopped by this morning)—and he still shows up in an old Superman T-shirt once in a while. (“Dreams are the touchstones of our character.” Thoreau.) Well, he’s faster in thought than a speeding bullet, more powerful in his will to travel than a locomotive, and, metaphorically at least, can occasionally leap tall buildings with a single bound. Happy Birthday, Super-son!


My Heart is Like a Singing Bird

On this Valentine’s Day, a poem by Christina Rossetti, and a painting.

For another beautiful Valentine poem, and a different painting, please see The Song of Wandering Aengus.


My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these,
Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a daïs of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.

—Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)




In honor of much-beloved poet and storyteller Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965), whose birthday it is today, I post her poem “Vegetables” and a new painting.

For a brief bio and other Farjeon poetry, with accompanying paintings, please see Morning Has Broken and Cats.


The country vegetables scorn
To lie about in shops,
They stand upright as they were born
In neatly-patterned crops;

And when you want your dinner you
Don’t buy it from a shelf,
You find a lettuce fresh with dew
And pull it for yourself;

You pick an apronful of peas
And shell them on the spot.
You cut a cabbage, if you please,
To pop into the pot.

The folk who their potatoes buy
From sacks before they sup,
Miss half of the potato’s joy,
And that’s to dig it up.

—Eleanor Farjeon


Squash for Supper

Today is the birthday of my friend Susan, who is, an addition to her many other admirable qualities, a terrific cook. In her honor I post this painting and a recipe from her boundless repertoire. Susan makes it with acorn squash, but any of your favorite winter squashes would work just fine. On a cold autumn or winter evening it makes a lovely golden appearance on the table, with or without birthday candles. Happy birthday, Susan!


Susan’s Squash Pudding

Bake 1 whole acorn squash at 400º until soft when pricked, about 1 hour. Scoop flesh into mixing bowl. Add 2 T butter and salt to taste and beat for a few minutes. Add 1 box of corn muffin mix [alternatively, I use the blend from Moosewood Cookbook: 1 cup yellow corn meal, 1 cup unbleached white flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp baking soda, ½ tsp salt, to which I add 1/4 cup brown sugar]. Add 1 egg and 1 cup milk and mix until blended. Pour into a pretty 1-1/2 quart casserole dish, dot with 3 T butter, and bake at 375º for 30-40 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Serve immediately.