NEWS FROM THE HILLS

It snowed on the sarvis bloom. It hung on the blossoming fruit trees, covered the lilac buds, froze the bleeding hearts and liberally covered the ground over night.

Uncle Clarence Brown used to say that it would always snow on the sarvis bloom, before spring will come and stay. We are all ready for that. Those days of cold, gloomy weather makes us doubly thankful for the bright sunshine today.

In spite of the cold and snow, the trees are putting forth fat buds and gleaming yellow dandelions are popping up everywhere. The more modest violets are partly hidden in the thick grass along the creek, like chips of blue sky that have fallen to the ground.

Morels are up already. Daughter Patty and son-in-law Bob have harvested quite a few. On the spur of the moment, they ventured into their secret patch on one of those freezing days last week. Snowflakes were whirling all around them, yet they kept spying morels.

I have heard that it takes snow to produce a good morel season, so we should have a bumper crop this year. A day or so of warm sunshine should coax them right through the ground. Spotting these tasty little mushrooms in the woods, under poplar and fruit trees, or along the creek is one of the thrills of springtime.

Morels are not the only springtime treat that our hills have to offer. Sassafras tea is one of most delicious spring tonics ever brewed. Before the sap comes up in the tree, the roots are dug, scrubbed well, and put into a large pot of water. It is then simmered until the resulting brew is deep red and hearty.

Mom always said that sassafras tea would thin your blood, but I have always drunk it for its aromatic goodness. A pot of sassafras tea brewing in the kitchen fills the whole house with the perfume of springtime. It is so much better than sulphur and molasses!

Another springtime treat is the lowly ramp. It is also called a wild leek, and other terms not so flattering. It does have a distinctive odor that lingers on the breath, but we have found that the early tender ones are not so offensive. We have learned to cook them outside on the grill, and it will keep the house odor-free.

We have had two good messes in the last few days, cooked with bacon and eggs. I believe that a big mess of ramps, along with a pot full of sassafras tea, would cure the winter doldrums and get us ready for the planting season.

We have had some home remedies come in, and some of them are new to me. James E. Fairchild of Clarksburg was told at the age of seven that he had leakage of the heart. His Aunt Flora Moore (Fairchild) had a cure for almost anything.

She mixed a quart Mason jar with raw eggs soaked in lemon juice until they dissolved. Then she mixed in raw honey and Kentucky bourbon whiskey until it was thick as molasses. He was given a teaspoon full each day. It may have helped—he is now 82 years old! His Aunt Flora made this for many people in the eastern Kentucky area who had tuberculosis, asthma, and other respiratory diseases.

Imogene Burdette of Culloden said her parents mixed ground ivy with catnip for tea, which was a sight better than castor oil. Mom always raised catnip to make tea for colicky babies. I think it does help them sleep.

My brother-in-law Howard Friend of Ravenswood has a good tip for a superficial cut. He said when he would get cut on the job; he would apply a piece of tape directly over the cut. This would keep it from bleeding, and later he could treat it. He also suggested Colgate’s toothpaste for a bee sting.

L. L. Tolley, DDS, of Winchester, VA, said that his mother called the membrane inside an egg shell “striffen,” and used it on a boil. As it dried, it would bring the boil to a head and could then be lanced.

We’ve collected some more dialect. Wally Sloan of Victoria, Texas, says his friends laugh when he uses the word “tacky” or “cotton-pickin’.” These terms are common usage to us, such as, “She shore did look tacky in that dress!” Wally says a neighbor of his answers the telephone with, “Jot-em Down Store.” Doesn’t that hail from an old radio program?

Sissy Taylor says her father would say, “Step on it!” when he wanted them to hurry up. Gordon Parker always wondered about “He took off like Snyder’s hound.” Who was Snyder, and why couldn’t he keep his hound under control?”

I’ve wondered also about “Coxey’s army.” When Mom would see a motley group of people coming, she would say, “Here comes Coxey’s army.”

Bernie Fulks sent us a Texas saying, ‘She’s uglier than a drunk mule!” We always said “uglier than a mud fence,” or “uglier than homemade sin.” Is homemade sin different from any other kind of sin?

We still call someone who is lazy or no-account “do-less.” A term came to me this week that I haven’t heard for years. We never said “bubble gum”—we asked for “blow gum.” “Gimme a piece of that there blow gum.”

I received a puzzling e-mail, and need help. Alene Hubbard of Charleston (moved here about five years ago, but grew up in South Dakota) wants to know what a katydid looks like. She has some kind of a strange insect that pops up in her house intermittently. (I did tell her a katydid was green, and it was not the season for them.) They emerge in the basement and on the main floor, reminds her of a cricket, but doesn’t make any noise. They have very long legs and a body about one-quarter of inch in diameter. They are reddish-gold, and have large antennae-like spikes at the front of their body. When she tries to swat them, they curl up in a ball and jump into nowhere.

Except for curling up in a ball, it sounds like a mole cricket. Does anyone have any idea?

It’s time to eat a mess of ramps, hunt a batch of morels, drink a jug of sassafras tea, and thank the good Lord for bringing us through another winter.

The Waynedale News Staff

Alyce Faye Bragg

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