Mary Beekman is a four-year-old ghost who resides in The Beekman Mansion, and considers Brent and Josh her “imaginary friends.” Follow Mary Beekman’s Diary each week to learn what it’s like to be a young child in early 19th century America
Mother dug a piece of some peony root from Nell’s Mother’s garden last year. Nell’s mother told her the root must have at least three “eyes”. These eyes had to be placed in the soil pointing up. I do not understand why, because they were all covered with
dirt anyway. I did not even think any part of this root looked like an eye. Mother took good care of the buried root before last winter set in. She covered each plant with straw.
Mother remembers her grandmere warning her, you should only dig the roots during the night. If one were to disturb a peony during daylight hours, wood peckers would appear and proceed to peck your eyes out.* She was laughing at the story and told me it was not really true. That is especially good because we were at Nell’s house during the DAY time. Thomas Jefferson wrote about peonies in 1771. He was a very good gardner. A peony bush can live longer than human beings but they do not like to move from place to place. Mother said it is fine to take a piece of the root; they don’t mind that.
When I go to the garden to pick peonies, there are many ants circling around the buds. Josh and Brent help me to shake them off. Josh uses his thumb and middle finger and SNAPS them off into the air. They land far away. The buds have a sweet sticky liquid on them. Brent said it was sweet because he touched his tongue to it. Ants are attracted tosweet things. In the hot days of summer, big Sister places one half a cup of fresh, macerated peony petals in one cup of cold water and allows it to steep for thirty minutes. Then she heats it for ten minutes. She strains off the petals and cools the water. She uses
it to refresh her face. It smells very nice but her face appears the same to me………