|Treasure beyond Your Wildest Dreams|
My eldest daughter worked at clearing brush so that the horse-drawn plow could get in and churn up the ground. While cleaning, she found a strange, skeletal thing in the dirt. The ranger explained that it was the remains of a Loofah squash. The pioneers grew them to use as sponges, and the plants are the source of the natural exfoliating sponges that you see in the health and beauty aisle.
Some fun with Google revealed that when the squashes are young, they're delicious, and when they're older, they're a cleaning supply! (My kids tend to be ambivalent about foods that double as cleaners. My son freaks out whenever I make a vinaigrette for the salad. "Mom! That's a cleaning chemical! You're trying to poison me!")
The ranger let my daughter keep the Loofah she'd found. She's planning on planting the seeds in her corner of the garden, and she hopes to sell her homegrown sponges at the farmer's market next year. I'm less confident of our ability not to screw up, but with luck, we should have a nice crop by fall.
For Local Readers: Next weekend, the Lincoln Boyhood Home is finishing up its first experiment in making maple syrup! Come Saturday morning at 9 for education and pancakes! How can you go wrong? A family annual membership to the park is only $10, so if you homeschool in Southwest Indiana, plan on making it a regular stop.