NEWS FROM THE HILLS

The November wind has a sharp bite to it today as it plucks leaves from the trees and sends them drifting through the air. The maple tree outside the window that was decked in orange and red is now painfully bare, and its leaves are piled at the roots. Many of the trees, especially the oaks, are hanging tenaciously to their leaves which have changed to a dull brown.

The recent rains have brought forth a crop of fall mushrooms, including the tender meadow mushrooms and some puffballs. Someone remarked that they had never heard of finding mushrooms in November, but we had a hot, dry summer. When the rain came, it must have encouraged the mushroom spores to develop.

Patty found a bag full of little button mushrooms (meadow), which were crisp and delicious. I used them in some stir-fries, and some of the more mature ones we rolled in flour and fried in butter. You can use these exactly as you do the commercial ones.

My brother Larry brought us a giant puffball mushroom that was as big as a basketball. It was firm and fresh, with the flesh resembling angel food cake. With its tender texture and delicate taste, it is one of Criss’ favorite mushrooms. A lot of people are not familiar with this delicious variety, because unlike most gourmet-quality mushrooms, they cannot be frozen or preserved in a way to retain their delightful texture and flavor.

This mushroom can be sliced and sautéed, but I like to slice it fairly thick, dip in a milk and egg mixture, then coat with flour and fry slowly in butter. I have a recipe for Puffball Parmesan that sounds delicious. I have plenty of puffball to experiment!

There is a fall mushroom which is commonly found from September through November and is a choice edible. It is called “Hen of the Woods” and is often hard to differentiate from the fallen leaves that are usually around it. Hunters sometimes come across it as they trek through the woods, growing at the base of oak and other deciduous trees.

They can grow quite large, and can be found each year in the same area. It is composed of a cluster of overlapping , pale gray to grayish brown fan-shaped caps, and can be canned, pickled or frozen. It is safe for the novice, as it has no dangerous look-alikes.

Edible wild foods are somewhat scarce now, as the green herbs and plants have succumbed to the cold weather. Our hills usually have a bountiful supply of walnuts and hickory nuts, but they seem to have hit in patches this year. The late freeze must have destroyed a lot of the bloom.

Still, it is a pleasure to walk in the woods now. The dry leaves crunch underfoot, and the sunshine brings out a rich, nutty fragrance that is like no other. In the distance, the hills are still colorful, with the green of the pines contrasting with the faded yellows and reds of the remaining leaves. The hills in autumn are a wondrous sight.

Veterans Day happened, a day which is set aside to pay homage to our American veterans. Actually, we should honor these brave men and women every day of the year for the sacrifices made to ensure our freedom.

It was originally known as Armistice Day, and was set as a legal holiday to honor the end of WWI, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. It was dedicated to the cause of world peace, and honored WWI veterans.

After WWII and the Korean War, in 1954 Congress amended the Act of 1938 and struck out the word “Armistice” and substituted the word “Veterans.” Thus, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

There have always been “wars and rumors of wars,” just as there have always been soldiers marching off to foreign soil, some never to return. There have always been grieving mothers and fathers, sweethearts and friends. Weapons of war have become more sophisticated and complex, yet the end result is still the same.

One of the saddest wars was the one that pitted brother against brother, and divided our country. Imogene Burdette of Culloden sent us a poem some time back that typifies our fallen dead. What a debt we owe our veterans!

 

THE BLUE AND THE GRAY

 

By the flow of the inland river,
Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
Asleep are the ranks of the dead.
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment day–
Under the one, the Blue;
Under the other, the Gray.

 

These in the robings of glory,
These in the gloom of defeat,
All with the battle-blood gory,
In the dusk of eternity meet;
Under the sod and the dew
Waiting the judgment day—
Under the laurel, the Blue;
Under the willow, the Gray.

 

From the silence of sorrowful hours
The desolate mourners go,
Lovingly laden with flowers
Alike for the friend and the foe;
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment day—
Under the roses, the Blue;
Under the lilies, the Gray.

 

So with an equal splendor
The morning sunrays fall,
With a touch impartially tender,
On the blossoms blooming for all;
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment day–
Broidered with gold, the Blue;
Mellowed with gold, the Gray.

 

So when the summer calleth
On forest and field of grain,
With an equal murmur falleth
The cooling drip of the rain;
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment day—
Wet with the rain, the Blue;
Wet with the rain, the Gray.

 

Sadly but not with upbraiding,
The generous deed was done;
In the storm of the years that are fading,
No braver battle was won;
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment day—
Under the blossoms, the Blue;
Under the garlands, the Gray.

 

No more shall the war cry sever,
Or the widening rivers be red;
Our anger is banished forever
When are laurelled the graves of our dead!
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment day—
Love and tears for the Blue,
Tears and love for the Gray.

 

by F. M. Finch

The Waynedale News Staff

Alyce Faye Bragg

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