December 16, 2013

Getting bogged down this time of year

It’s mid-December, winter has arrived, and the holiday season is well underway.

I have more lists going than usual and it occurs to me that in our enthusiasm to enjoy the season to the fullest, we sometimes cram too many activities into too short a time. There’s always something to do or somewhere to go. It doesn’t take long for us to get bogged down.

So what does “bogged down” mean?

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines a bog as “an area of wet, spongy ground characterized by decaying mosses that form peat; a small marsh or swamp.” It follows then that “bogged down” refers to being stuck in this spongy ground, unable to make any progress.

Not all bogs bring to mind an image of dark, mucky places. Take a cranberry bog for instance. Until very recently, I never gave much thought to cranberries. I’ve seen the commercials on television with the guys in waders surrounded by floating cranberries, and figured they grew underwater. Not so.

Cranberries are native to America and are grown commercially in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Washington, Oregon and Maine, as well as some Canadian provinces, and Chile. Cranberry bogs are soft, marshy grounds, frequently near wetlands, consisting of alternating layers of sand and organic matter.

The low-growing cranberry plant puts out long, woody runners. Short upright branches grow from these runners, and the fruit grows on the uprights. There is a 16-month cycle from bud set to harvest time.

Water is even more essential in the production of cranberries than in other crops because it is not just for irrigation. Sprinkler systems are used to protect the berries from spring and fall frosts that can damage the buds or berries, as well keeping the berries cool when summer temperatures soar.

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