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Oh Yes, We’ll Have Some Tomatoes

“March is not too early to think about tomatoes,” says Karen Neill, Guilford County’s urban horticulture agent. “Start your own seeds so that you have transplants ready to go outside in late April or early May. This gives you the ability to be selective about the different cultivars versus just what the garden centers have to offer.” Go to www.heirloomtomatoes.net, and just try to resist ordering seeds on the basis of their evocative names — Box Car Willie, Aunt Ruby’s German Green, Eva’s Purple Ball, Earl of Edgecombe, Hillbilly and Giant Syrian. With seeds on the way, consider attending Totally Tomatoes: All About Our Favorite Fruit, offered four times during March in four different locations by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Look for tips and techniques to thread your way through the perils of cutworms, blight, wilt, mosaic, tomato hornworms, nematodes, blossom end rot, drought and flood. No one said it was going to be easy. (336) 3755876 or guilford.ces.ncsu.edu. DCB

Tales and Trails

“Why Are There So Many NC Writers?” That’s the question that Literary Trails of North Carolina author Georgann Eubanks will answer at UNCG on Wednesday, March 26, at 4 p.m. “Writers have tended to ‘bunch’ in towns where university creative writing programs are thriving,” she says. “Greensboro is, of course, legendary in that regard.” For instance, Eleanor Ross Taylor, the distinguished poet encouraged her husband, short-story writer Peter Taylor, to teach at Woman’s College. “The Taylors attracted Randall and Mary Jarrell, Allen Tate, and a great many visiting writers, including Flannery O’Connor,” she says. “Then just think of the women writers who were in school  there — Doris Betts, Heather Ross Miller, Emily Wilson, Sally Buckner, Kathryn Stripling Byer and Claudia Emerson, to name a few.” And North Carolina itself? Edna Ferber got the story for her novel Showboat in Bath. “Robert Frost came down as a very young man aiming to commit suicide in the Dismal Swamp, but decided to hang out with duck hunters instead. Rachel Carson spent time at Lake Mattamuskeet and in Beaufort.” And who knew that novelist William Styron (often identified with Tidewater Virginia) was actually the grandson of Alpheus Styron, who was born in 1848 on Portsmouth Island near Ocracoke? “I could go on and on,” she says — and will — in the Martha Blakeney Hodges Reading Room on the second floor of UNCG’s Jackson Library. Info: (336) 256-0112 or library. uncg.edu/calendar/events. DCB

All That Jazz

“Let’s fly down, or drive down, to New Orleans,” goes the song. “That city . . . so pretty . . . it’s so extreme.” Once upon a time, jazz fans could only hear genuine New Orleans jazz within the crowded confines of Preservation Hall, three blocks from the Mississippi River in N’awlins’ French Quarter. Thanks to the touring Preservation Hall Jazz Band, on Saturday, March 22, at 8 p.m. you can hear the saints go marching in without leaving Greensboro. ArtsGreensboro and the N.C. Arts Council have teamed up with the Carolina Theatre to bring the venerable jazz band to the Carolina for a one-night engagement. And word is that the theater’s orchestra pit will be open for those who can’t resist dancing. So shake a leg. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or www. CarolinaTheatre.com. DCB The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Sauce of the Month

I remember first tasting sriracha sauce, aka Rooster sauce, with its distinctive bright green cap and a cocky rooster strutting across the label, two decades ago at the Big Lips Café in Charlotte. It was love at first bite — garlicky enough to stay on your breath all day, hot enough to make you want to order another Singha beer, but not as sticky sweet as Thai chili sauce. It immediately joined Texas Pete in my pantheon of perfect hot sauces — condiments so essential you can’t imagine going to the beach without them. When Texas Pete-originator TW Garner Food Company in Winston-Salem came out with CHA!, its take on sriracha, I opened the bottle with trepidation. I thought that the recently introduced Texas Pete Garlic Hot Sauce was superb. Texas Pete Hotter Hot Sauce is fine, but risking my Tarheel street cred by saying so, I prefer McIlhenny Tabasco Sauce. I dribbled some CHA! on my over-easy eggs and sausage at breakfast. I spritzed my leftover meatloaf sandwich with it at lunch. At supper, I literally squirted it onto my stirfried basil chicken. In a side-by-side taste test with the original Tuong Ot Sriracha from Huy Fong Food in California, I found CHA! just as hot and garlicky and maybe a tad little less sweet and salty. I wouldn’t turn around for the difference, and it made me proud to be a North Carolinian — and an American, considering the original sriracha was invented by a Vietnamese immigrant in Rosemead, California. DCB

Prompted?

Everyone focused on ONE theme: “Begin Again!” Individually or Collectively. There are no limitations Poetry, memoir or short story Just begin Jot your thoughts on crumpled slips of paper rescued from the bottom of your purse Or on a cocktail napkin while sipping a pint at the corner bar. Craft your words carefully punching each letter on your keyboard. Or hurry and tap your thoughts in a memo on your cell phone while waiting in line And if autocorrect spits out the wrong words Begin again

One City, One Prompt is a global initiative of the Transformative Language Arts Network to get everyone to write using the same prompt: “Begin Again!” The effort in Greensboro — onecityoneprompt.org/ where/southeast/greensboro-nc — is led by local poet and poetry facilitator Jacinta White and runs from March 1 until April 30. To sponsor a workshop, submit or share, or for more information, contact jacinta.white@poetryheals.com. TF March 2014

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March O.Henry 2014  

The Art & Soul Greensboro