About “Peepehs” and Peas….
Welcome to the May 2013 edition of Jud’s New England Journal, the rather curious monthly musings of Judson Hale, the Editor-in-Chief of Yankee Magazine, published since 1935 in Dublin, N.H.
About “Peepehs” and Peas….
Both are integral parts of a New England spring…
For me, a most wonderful spring sign of so many nice things to come is the sound of peepers (little frogs), pronounced peepehs here in New England even by those who ordinarily utilize their r’s. Moreover, to be the first in your neighborhood to hear the very first of the season “peeps” on a spring evening is definitely an honor. Trouble is no one will acknowledge anybody else being the first.
“Heard a few peepehs this evening in the swamp back of my house here in Spofford,” a voice called into WKNE radio in Keene, New Hampshire, one April evening as I was returning home from Vermont, listening to my car radio.
“We have peepehs over here in Westmoreland this evening, too,” another man telephones several minutes later.
“Out here in Acworth”, a woman’s voice came over the air, “We heard peepehs last Sunday.”
The announcer then invited anyone who’d heard peepehs earlier than that to give a call—and some half dozen listeners did. A bit of an argument ensued when someone said that the peepehs in his town had been in full swing “for over a week.” Finally, the original caller from Spofford telephoned back to say that the peepehs he was hearing there that evening were the first “group” of peepehs he’d heard that season, but that he “thought” he’d heard a “single peepeh” one evening almost two weeks before. At that point, the announcer began to play some music.
During this same time of year, there’s a great deal of anguished deliberation over whether or not to plant peas. “In by Patriots’ Day, out by the Fourth of July,” is the old saying. Actually, it doesn’t matter when they’re planted just as long as they’re ready to pick by the Fourth of July weekend dinner. That is important. So the decision isn’t taken lightly—and it’s delicate. Plant them too early and the seeds will just rot in the too-cold ground. A late snowstorm—“poor man’s fertilizer”—will not necessarily hurt them. But a lengthy, cold, rainy spell will. On the other hand, if one becomes overly cautious and waits too long, there’ll be canned or frozen peas with the salmon that Fourth of July and those cannot ever be passed off as fresh.
Anyway, after the peepehs and planting the peas, there are so many things to look forward to this time of year. Like lilacs and lots of warm days, for instance. And bugs? Well, sure. Maybe a few….