(Editor's Note: This article was originaly published on February 23, 2010. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)
When my friends call me during the winter months, most know better than to ask how I am. My answer is always the same: “I’m so c-c-c-cold!” I try to not talk about the weather, I try to not think of it, too. But when November rolls around, the days get shorter, the temperatures drop below 50 degrees and I shiver. Word gets around pretty quickly on Dave’s Garden, and my shivering was no secret. With the first frost came advice from friends far and wide.
One of those friends from out west sent to me a list of foods that promised to raise one’s internal temps, healthy foods, good-for-you foods. I tried them for awhile but I continued to shiver.
From the north came the words: “Lots of exercise will warm you up.” I already run through my days like a spinning top, but I added to that, and all the time I continued to shiver.
A friend from the south said I should try hot drinks, teas and hot chocolate. The advice kept rolling in, and I tried them all. Christmas came and went, as did the arrival of 2010, and I greeted the new year with an extra long shiver from my nose to my toes. Even my little grandson commented on my cold hands.
“Layer your clothes,” they said. And I did, to no avail.
Then one day I received a note from the southwest: “I’m sending you a package, watch for it. It’ll make you warm.”
So I watched the mail, and sure enough, a package arrived. I opened it up and inside there were two of what appeared to be those long white feeder socks, the kind I buy for my goldfinches. It took a minute for me to remember what my friend, June, had told me: “It’ll make you warm.”
Inside a lovely card were these words: “These are ‘cozies’ made with buckwheat seeds to keep you warm. Just heat in microwave for no longer than two minutes. Buckwheat seeds are sterile, non-flammable (unlike buckwheat hulls) and never develop a burned odor no matter how often the cozies are heated.
One cozy is fat and can be used to warm your feet or wherever you are cold. The other is purposely thinner and can be draped around your neck and even worn outdoors under the collar of a jacket. If your neck is warm, you’ll feel warm all over.”
Buckwheat seed cozies? I’d never heard of them, but I took them to my microwave, and heated them as her directions said to do. They were hot after about 2 minutes.
I decided to use my internet skills and learn what I could about buckwheat, so I sat down at my computer with a cozy draped around my neck and one folded beneath my feet. I began my Google search and this is what I found:
Fagopyrum esculentum is a summer annual, and can be grown as a cover crop. It was first cultivated in southeast Asia around 6000 B.C., it was documented in Europe by 4000 B.C, and was also found in Japan at about the same time. It is not related to wheat, nor is it a cereal, and it isn’t a grass. It’s sometimes used as a plant to prevent erosion or as wildlife cover and feed. I wondered about its name until I found that it comes from its triangular seeds, which resemble the much larger seeds of the beech nut from the beech tree, plus it can be used like wheat, though it contains no gluten. Suddenly I remembered buckwheat pancakes were made from buckwheat flour, and with that thought, I finally knew what my cozies were made from.
By the time I had read just that much, I realized I was no longer shivering. I was warm from my nose to my toes for the first time in months, and I had only been reading for just a few minutes. June had sent me a small miracle.
She ordered the buckwheat seeds, she said, and I found several sources online. I also found some other sites that showed the seeds made into small pillows that could be used in the same way. I read a little farther, and there were reports of using the pillows for aching necks or shoulders, chills caused by fevers, and to soothe the aching tummies of little ones.
The two that June had made for me were of a soft, stretchy, tube-like fabric, stitched at one end, filled with buckwheat seed, and then stitched again at the opposite end. They are about 15 inches long. Of course if you make a small pillow, it would need to be of a size that would fit in your microwave. One of the sites I read, the one referring to the pillow, mentioned that the fabric used for the cozies should be of natural fiber.
The warmed cozies have an almost earthy scent. It reminds me of newly dug soil and planting seeds, scents of spring and warm sunshine.
When I talked with June she reminded me that the cozies are made of buckwheat seeds, not buckwheat hulls, and they can be warmed in the microwave over and over again. I reminded her that she is a miracle maker. I have not been this warm in a very long time.
It isn’t strange to me anymore, the friendships that are made on Dave’s Garden. It’s like June said in the card that came with the cozies: “Enjoy the warmth of the cozies and of the friendship that comes with them.” While the cozies warm me outside, the friendship warms me inside. Thank you, my friend.
The thumbnail photo is from Wikipedia Public Commons. There was no way to photograph the Cozies as they warmed my feet and neck, but the remaining images will give you an idea of their size and their flexibility.
Information on Buckwheat:
If you are interested in making your own, enter buckwheat seeds in your search engine and you’ll find many suppliers.
My own special thanks to my dear DG friend, June_nmexico. It’s 25 degrees outside, and I am toasty warm!