NEWS FROM THE HILLS

Our hills are alive in a green world today; green grass stretches to the wooded green hills and even the drizzly rain has a greenish cast. Tendrils of fog clinging to the side of the hills tell us that “fog on the hill brings water to the mill.” The rain is not over yet.

The recent storms and heavy rains have thoroughly saturated our gardens and lawns, but we have been spared the ravages that many folks suffered. There were high winds and power outages all around us, and tragic loss of life and homes in other states. The only damage we had was a big oak tree that uprooted above the barn. God must have had His protecting hand over us.

Mom always called the rainy weather this time of year “the cold May rains.” After they are over, we can expect warm days to stay. She would always reminisce about the cold rain when she was a little girl down on Big Laurel Creek. She would tell us, “This time of year, the firewood would be gone, and the days would be wet and cold.”
She would continue, “I wasn’t old enough to go to school, and Mommy would take me out in the pasture field and we’d hunt for rotten pine stumps. She would kick them out of the ground and we’d carry them home and put them in the big fireplace. It would get so warm and cozy when we lit them, and poor little ants would pour out of their displaced homes.”

She didn’t have a lot of good memories about her mother, as she died at such an early age. Most of her early memories were centered on the good times she had with her sisters, Addie and Ruby. After her mind grew worse, she reverted back to her childhood days with them. She once again played hide-and-seek, and waded the waters of Big Laurel.

Big Laurel Creek was an enchanting place to us when we were young. We would go there to picnic and swim in the clean, clear water, and Daddy would fish in some of the deeper holes. Hemlocks and rhododendrons grew along the banks of the creek, and lacy ferns that exuded a sweet odor when crushed underfoot.

The wild, white honeysuckle (azalea) bushes grew in the water’s edge, and no perfume ever made could rival the fragrance of those flowers. With holes of water deep enough to swim in, and banks of sand for the little ones, it was a Garden of Eden to us.

Tall rock cliffs bordered one side of the creek, much too steep to climb. It was a family story that Mom’s older brother Grover once climbed up the side and peeped in a cave. He said that something inside sparkled like sun on glass. Of course we had day dreams of precious jewels hidden there—and of course we never found them.

No wonder Mom wanted to go back there. She told me one time that she thought heaven would be like going home again to Big Laurel Creek, with Mommy and Dad. I feel as if she’s there now.

I found a yellowed fragment of newspaper where Mom had penned the words to a poem that touched my heartstrings. In her beautiful handwriting she wrote,

 

“Let Fate do her worst, there are relics of joy,

Bright dreams of the past that she cannot destroy

That comes in the nighttime of sorrow and care

And bring back the features that joy used to wear.

Long, long be my heart with such memories filled

Like a vase in which roses have once been distilled.

You may break; you may shatter the vase if you will

But the scent of the roses will linger on still.”

Oh, Mom, I am missing you today.

 

Spring days are drifting along like fluff from a dandelion, quickly floating out of sight. Dogwood bloom is fading, and the redbud blossoms have turned into tiny, reddish beans. These can be used in stir fries or sautéed in oil with garlic.

My sister, Mary Ellen, had planned to make a pie with redbud blossoms, but was rushed for time and froze them to use later. These little pink blooms have a slightly tart, citrus flavor. I would like to try a pie made with these.

Dollie Townsend of Pinch writes about the sarvis berries of her childhood. She said that there were sarvis berry trees at their home at Mt. Nebo, and when they were ripe her brother would climb one. Her mother would take a bed sheet and three or four of the children would hold the corners under the tree and her brother would shake the branches.

The sheet would be full of berries, leaves and small twigs. Her mother would sit down on the ground and pick the berries out of the mess and then she canned them like cherries. They ate them in the winter with sugar and cream. She added, “With ten kids she had to can everything she could get!”

We were never able to gather enough to can—just a few to eat out of hand. There was one small tree that leaned over the “big rock” where we played. We were able to bend down the branches and gather a few. They were good.

It’s hard to believe that daisies are already blooming. It seemed that they never bloomed until the school term was over for the year, but we got out earlier then. I graduated from high school on May 16, 1952. The years have gone by faster than a weaver’s shuttle. Faster than the dandelion fluff . . .

 

AS TREES

 

Let me grow old as trees grow old, dear Lord,

With pliant boughs made resolute and strong,

By wrestling storms, extended to afford

The welcome shade which shelters woodland song.

As trees are harps for every breeze, keep me

Attuned to life. As trees are havens give

My days the joy of constant ministry

To human need so long as I shall live.

As trees put forth green leaves for every spring,

Let me renew my hope throughout the years.

Adversity unmarked by sapling fears.

Let me greet death, when it is time to die,

With valiant head uplifted to the sky.

 

by Gail Brook Burket

The Waynedale News Staff
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