NEWS FROM THE HILLS

The heavens opened up, and the rain came pouring down … again … and again. Rainy days have become the norm this spring here in the hills, with the occasional sunny day a rarity. The poet James Russell Lowell asks, “And what is so rare as a day in June?” I know the answer to that one. It is a sunny day in June, especially this year.

Everything here seems to be on hold. The garden stands in a sea of mud, and can neither be hoed nor planted in later crops. Our potato patch is the prettiest one we have ever raised — hearty, vigorous plants that stood thigh-high. We graveled some as large as a goose egg the last of May. The vines are still lush and green, but some of the potatoes are beginning to rot in the ground. The half runner beans are putting out long vines, but part of the row is beginning to turn yellow from the standing water. The cucumbers came up so thick that I had to thin them, and now they are pitiful. The tomatoes are doing fair, but need to be tied again to their stakes.

The biggest concern is the hay. Meadows stand ready to cut, and some of them are overripe, but it is impossible to mow with the continued rain. Usually in June the first cutting has been harvested, with the summery scent of new mown hay drifting through the air. One of my best childhood memories is walking across the stubble of the newly cut hay with a jug of water for the workers. The sun would be shining hotly, and the bob-whites singing their summer song, “Bob-white! Bob-white!

White-white-white!” I miss that now.

Thank the Lord that we have been spared the heartache and devastation that many of our neighbors in Kanawha County have experienced. It is hard to imagine that the runoff from hills and hollers can create such a nightmare scene. The continual rains have saturated the ground to such a degree that it cannot hold any more moisture. We have never had a real flood threat here. The branches and creek sometimes overflow, but will run down almost as swiftly as they rise. Once in awhile, the creek will cover the roadway in a few places, but in two or three hours it is back in its banks.

The worst flooding that I can remember happened several years ago. We had a cloudburst that came roaring down the Belcher Holler, and a big willow tree became lodged in the culvert across from our house. It kept raining, and the muddy water covered the bridge and roadway, and then spread across the field where the gas company compressor was located. It was a sea of water as far as I could see. We moved the car as close to the house as we could, and when the floodwater reached the wheels of the car, I was ready to take to the hill in back of our house. About that time, the rain slacked up, and the water began to recede. There were several gardens washed away that spring, and some trailers were moved off their foundations at the mouth of the holler.

This wet spring has invited an invasion of household pests. I have fought the little sugar ants almost constantly. It seems that I have wiped them out, and when it rains again, they come back in a determined line. Other folks have complained of the fruit flies (cider gnats.) They are so tiny that it is hard to eliminate them. Our granddaughter Taylor was in the kitchen watching me prepare supper when she said, “Mommaw, you’ve got a cider gnat!” “Where?” I asked. She answered quickly, “Right above that apple you’re going to peel for me!” She got her apple.

My late Aunt Verba sent me a card one time that is so appropriate for this spring. It read: “It was a wet spring, and the fields were lying idle, waiting the plows and harrows. Waiting the sun, yet the ceaseless rain kept falling. The farmers were growing anxious with nothing done. If this keeps up, our folks will be half starving, the bitterest one cursed the steady pouring rain. But my father, who was a patient man, kept saying, “It will come all right, and the sun will shine again.”

And now that his tired body long has rested deep in the soil he loved, his words still stand true. And often, when rains are falling overmuch on troubled, weary land, and my heart is swept with the wind’s continual blowing, and the day is dark as turbulent, storm-tossed night, I can hear his words and it comforts me recalling, “The sun will shine again, and it will come all right.” Give everyone my love.

 

Love,

Cousin Alyce Faye

The Waynedale News Staff
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Alyce Faye Bragg

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