SHATTERS are a valued commodity here on the Shore. To inform you folks from other places, shatters is the local name for long pine needles. Further down the county, they are sometimes called Shatts. They are used as a mulch or ground cover, for weed control and also as a ground conditioner for acid loving plants like camellias and azaleas, daffodils and even strawberries. In the Old Days, one could buy a shatters rake at the local hardware or farm supply place. They were hand forged and set in a special way on a long handle. Today they are a rare find. When our old place was sold, I grabbed our old shatters rake and brought it home. I wish I had grabbed the hand plow, too and the old wooden wheelbarrow. They were real treasures!
The tines on the shatters rake are longer, further apart, and angled. When I needed a new handle (the old one was older than I and actually in worse shape) I had to find someone who had an understanding of the value of the old tools. The first guy that looked at it told me they didn’t have those things in New Jersey, where he came from, they used “normal” rakes. Well, that told me not to let him get his hands on my rake! Phew! He said, along with putting a new handle on it, he would straighten it, “See how crooked its got?” (Yeah, it was made that way!) See the difference in a “normal” rake and a shatters rake? My shatters rake is close to 100 years old dating back to around the time the old house was built, 1914.
My Uncle has been talking lately about carving new tines for his hay rake. I have another friend who makes (carves and assembles) his own hay rakes, too. I am so impressed. I would love my Uncle to get a picture of his rake. I wonder how big it is. Another friend made one to go behind his garden tractor to rake shatters as well as hay. It is about 5 feet across. Impressive. That must be on my project list, but when would I have time? I guess that is one advantage of having long cold snowy winters… nothing else to do. That doesn’t ever seem to happen here.
Anyway, I found someone who was as impressed as I at the age of the rake… it took him about a week to put a new handle on it. He was so careful to not damage any more than he had to since the old rake had a metal piece go right thru the old wooden handle and was welded in place. No wonder it never came off! So, the other day, I happily got it out of the barn and raked up a few loads of shatters and bedded down the newly transplanted camellias and azaleas. I discovered the late December camellias were starting to open. Well, it was 70 degrees. The bees were happily buzzing along in the open camellias, it really looked and sounded like springtime. I also noticed the new miniature holly bush is in bloom! Go figure that! Someone suggested I decorate this camellia (with the first white bloom) for Christmas since it is shaped so perfectly.
Then, this morning… well, you know, every once in a while the light is just perfect, there is that special glow things get first thing in the morning… I am so glad I am not one of those folks that lay in bed half the day – mornings are so magical! Anyway, the little maple out front was just glowing… I guess it was showing me that we really could have red maple trees here! That is Yule Tide next to it on the left. Those green spiky things on the right are yucca.
As I walked back to the house, I noticed some bright yellow out at the edge of my woods… I am not sure what these trees are. They get pink flowers in the spring, but I never see any nuts or fruit. Any idea what they might be? Tomorrow it might be even prettier! Stay tuned!