November was not a melancholy month to me, but a cozy time to move indoors and enjoy the comfort of a warm fire, a fuzzy blanket at night, and the inviting fragrance of homemade soups and stews coming from the kitchen. A bowl of hot vegetable-beef soup and a hunk of batter bread warm from the oven will always spell home to me.
After three days of warm and delightful Indian summer weather, November showed her harsher side and sent the temperatures plummeting. Those three days were a solace to us, softening the edge of coming winter and providing us with some sunny memories.
The origin of the term “Indian Summer” is uncertain. Most sources agree that it usually does occur late in November, after a killing frost and freeze in order to be considered a true “Indian summer.” It does not occur every year, but some years may have two or three such periods. The term dates back at least 200 years, and a probable suggestion relates to the way the American Indians took advantage of the extra opportunity to stock more of their winter stores. According to New England Native American folklore, Indian Summer is sent on a southwest wind from the spirit Countantowit. These days were more than welcome after the overflowing rainfall that plagued our hills again. The sun shone down in tranquil warmth, smoky, blue shadows filled the valleys and hollows, and we gloried in the unexpected bonus. It was made even more precious by the fact we knew it could not last. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said it best in this excerpt from the poem “Hiawatha.”
“From his pipe the smoke ascending,
Filled the sky with haze and vapor,
Filled the air with dreamy softness,
Gave a twinkle to the water,
Touched the rugged hills with smoothness,
Brought the tender Indian Summer
To the melancholy north-land
In the dreary Moon of Snow-shoes.”
It is a double blessing when Indian Summer and Thanksgiving Day coincide. It makes an unforgettable holiday, with memories that linger on through the years. We had one such holiday at the old Jackson County farm, where the white two-story farmhouse welcomed the family with old-fashioned warmth. It was a golden day, with warm, balmy breezes blowing the colored leaves through the air. The sun sent benevolent rays down upon the fields and sloping hillsides, and the mood was pure happiness.
The wood cook stove produced pumpkin pies and a golden-brown roast turkey. The family was all together then, not a missing link. We were so blessed. We are still blessed. Although Thanksgiving Day 2003 is already a memory, the blessings continue. God showers His blessings upon us every day of the year, and too often we take them for granted. I remember Daddy often remarking “that some people are just like hogs eating acorns-they never look up to see where their blessings are coming from!” What a blessing it is to live in America, where our material needs are more than abundantly supplied. God has not only given us what we need, but much more than we need. Nearly all of us ladies can go to our clothes closet and pick through several outfits until we decide which one to wear.
In many countries, there is no problem deciding-they own one meager dress which is laundered and worn again. We go to our well-stocked deep freezers and refrigerators, picking and choosing what to cook for dinner to please everyone. In some places, a bowl of rice makes up the whole meal. The Bible warns us about letting prosperity cloud our vision of the Giver, and departing from His commandments. In Deut. 8:10-14, 17-20, God warned the children of Israel after He led them to Canaan. When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which He hath given you. Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping His commandments, and His judgments, and His statutes, which I command you this day. Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and has built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of Mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God; for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. As the nations which the Lord destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God. America is known as the land of plenty, but she is sadly lacking in the things that really count-obedience to God, reverence to His name, and a heart of thankfulness for His salvation.
Love to all,
Cousin Alyce Faye
P.S. I still have copies of my books “This Holler is My Home” and “Homesick for the Hills” and am now mailing them out for Christmas giving. The price is $15.33 each, which includes postage and sales tax, and can be autographed personally as wished. Send orders to: Alyce Faye Bragg, HC 72 Box 1F, Ovapa, WV 25150.
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