Q What are the words to “Old Lang Syne”?

A: “Old Lang Syne” was actually a poem that many people credit to a gentleman by the name of Robert Burns. Some sources dismiss this and say that “Old Lang Syne”, which originally was “Auld Lang Syne” is a song that’s long been associated with New Year’s Eve. Scottish in origin, the words literally translate to “the times gone past; the good old days.”

The words you’re probably referring to are the most popular verse, the one we sing on Dec. 31, and they are: “Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne! For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne, We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, For the sake of auld lang syne.”

Q How do you know if an avocado is fresh?

A: Unlike other fruits and vegetables you buy from a store, fresh avocados are somewhat soft to the touch, even mushy in a sense. When you buy an avocado, especially if you plan on using it within a week after purchasing, make sure it is somewhat firm, but that it will yield to slight pressure.

To speed the ripening process, place the avocado in a paper bag and store at room temperature until ready to eat (usually two to five days). Many sources also suggest placing an apple together with the avocado to speed up the process.

To retain the fresh green color, avocados should either be eaten immediately or should be sprinkled with lemon or lime juice, or white vinegar.

Q What can I do with a cut Christmas tree once the holidays are over?

A: Why not recycle your Christmas tree by setting it in the yard to provide an element of winter interest and a refuge for wildlife (hang goodies for the birds on them).

And don’t stop at your own tree; walk around the block and pick up the trees left on the curb by your neighbors. Arrange the trees in a snowbank, or stand a few of them erect in old tree stands. Come spring, you can add the pruned limbs to your mulch for your perennials, or use them to shade seedlings from the harsh summer sun.

Other ideas include converting the tree into wood chips. Use a chipper or mechanical tree grinder and use the chips as mulch around flowers and shrubs. You can also strip the boughs from the trunk and use them as mulch around low-growing landscape plants.

Q Why can I view the stars and moon more clearly in January on a cold night than in August?

A: Viewing the planets and the moon has a lot to do with what is in the air. If you live close to a big city, there is usually either a lot of artificial light that reflects into the night sky and makes it hard to view the planets, and/or at times, a lot of haze due to pollutants that exist near these big cities. These factors will make it hard to view objects in the sky. But the weather has something to do with it as well. Planets and stars are more easily viewed when the air is dry and there is almost no haze in the atmosphere. So, you are more likely to be able to view a bright night sky in January than in August.

If you have a question for the Farmers’ Almanac write to Farmers’ Almanac, P.O. Box 1609, Lewiston, ME 04241 or send e-mail to [email protected]

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