NEWS FROM THE HILLS

“I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me. . . ,” The first line of that poem goes over and over in my mind as eight year old Taylor follows every step I take. I think of the generations of little girls who have followed this pattern down through the years.

It began with our first daughter Patty, who loved to “help” with the housework as soon as she was able to walk. She had a little broom that she used energetically behind me as I swept the kitchen. She took to cooking like a duck to water, and could fix an entire meal when she was no more than twelve years old.

Thank goodness, she has still followed the same path and is my right hand when it comes to helping me. The years flew by swiftly (oh, how swiftly, like a feather in the wind) and soon Patty was sweeping her own kitchen floor and raising her babies.

The granddaughters began arriving. Miriam Abigail was the first one to begin stepping in my footsteps. Although a grandparent’s love is the same for all the grandchildren, you naturally feel closer to the ones who live right beside you. Abigail (Kevin’s and Sarah’s daughter) lived across the driveway.

She would appear as soon as I got out of bed. An impish, pig-tailed little shadow, she would begin, “Mommaw, let’s do the workup!” She used “workup” as one word, “Have you done your “workup” yet?” She made me work whether I wanted to or not.

When I would tell her I hadn’t prayed yet, she would follow me upstairs, kneel at the bed beside me and wait patiently until I finished praying. Sometimes she would tell me, “You forgot Mommaw and Poppaw Stone!” So I’d get back on my knees and add a P.S. to my prayer.

Her heart’s desire was to grow up and be a “mommaw” like me. One day while we were washing the car, happily sloshing water and soapsuds all over us, she remarked, “Oh, I can’t wait to grow up and be nice and sloppy like Mommaw!”

More time passed, she married, and is splashing soapsuds with her two little ones. We must have run out of little girls about then, for the next shadow I remember was her little brother Reuben. He was born 10 years later than his first two siblings, and there was no one his age for a buddy. He followed me.

It was not the housework he emulated, but foraging for wild herbs and flowers. He would trail along behind me, tasting the wild peppermint that I picked for him. We sailed bark boats on the creek, cracked walnuts and gathered moss and leaves. Some of my best nature walks was with him. When he started to school, I was alone again.

Andy started a second family, and there was my shadow again. Taylor and I bonded the night she was brought home from the hospital. Her mother Jennifer had an excruciating epidural headache, and was scarcely able to move. I slept on the sofa with Taylor, a lamp burning beside us. Every time I opened my eyes, she was looking at me.

Jennifer started to nursing school, and sometimes would have to leave the house at five o’clock in the morning. She would bring the fat, cuddly baby down the night before, and one of us would get to sleep with her. She favored her Poppaw Criss, and he fed and rocked her. (She is still his shadow too.)

In time she too will move on with her own life, and the cycle of generations will turn once more. Right now though, I am enjoying this enthusiastic shadow as she helps cook, can vegetables and learns lessons that she will carry through life. I think everyone needs a shadow.

Her brother Nicholas, who is 12, wrote a poem some time back that I think is very good. (Of course, being a grandmother, I would think so.)

 

SHADOW
by Nicholas Bragg

 

I am on the wall,
I am on the ground,
A part of you that cannot be found.
I mimic your movement,
Like you in every way,
Whether in January or May.
I am lost in the evening,
Found at dawn,
And when you turn the light on.
I am your shadow,
And a little bit of you,
I’ll be with you always,
In everything you do.

 

We’ve had a lot of reader response this issue, and wish to thank all of you. Marian Starcher of Charleston passed along the words to a requested song, and also had a helpful hint for elderberry jelly. She says she cooks an apple or two along with the elderberries (instead of lemon juice) and it adds natural pectin to the jelly. Then she makes it as directed on the Sure-Jell box.

One of our sharp-eyed readers, Harold Brown of Parkersburg, found an error in the recipe for Chow-Chow. (It was my mistake.) It should have read, “One peck (12 ½ pounds) green tomatoes”—not 1½ pounds. I was never very good at math.”

Freda Armentrout of Cowen, Elizabeth Mann of Elkins, Watt Gilbert of Racine, J. W. Birt, Gussie Bowe of Belle, Virginia Sanders of Point Pleasant, Ellyn McLaughlin of MD, Frank Kinder of Scott Depot, Shirley Bailey of Craigsville, Jo Mullins of Winifrede, Barbara Kelly, Anita Holley and Janet Tucker all sent the words to “Put My Little Shoes Away.”

 

“PUT MY LITTLE SHOES AWAY”

 

Mother dear, come bathe my forehead,
I am growing very weak;
Let one drop of water, Mother
Fall upon my burning cheek;
Tell my loving little playmates,
That I never more shall play;
Give them all my toys, but Mother,
Put my little shoes away.

 

‘Santa Claus he gave them to me,
With a lot of other things,
‘And I think he brought an angel,
With a pair of golden wings;
Mother, soon I’ll be with Jesus
Ere perhaps another day;
Then, oh then, my loving mother,
Put my little shoes away.

 

Soon the baby will grow larger,
They will fit his little feet;
Won’t he look so handsome, Mother,
As he walks along the street?
Mother, now I’m going to leave you,
So remember what I say;
Then, oh then, my loving mother,
Put my little shoes away.

The Waynedale News Staff

Alyce Faye Bragg

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