Summer came sliding in on the heels of some fierce thunderstorms which racked our hills and brought sudden destruction to many of our trees. Some were uprooted, and others came crashing down across power lines and roadways. Some folks declared that a small tornado had ripped a path through the woods, leaving twisted trees and fallen power poles in its wake.
We had a taste of yesterday’s country living when the power was interrupted for four days here and longer in some places. It was the hottest week of the year so far, and the heat was stifling. One of our neighbors remarked that it was like the “good old days,” but I had to disagree. We were much better equipped to cope with the weather then.
That was our way of life, and we were used to it. We always had water from the pitcher pump, and the old johnny-house was ever a faithful companion. When the power goes off now, we have no water. The little shack out back didn’t need water for flushing. The wood stove in the kitchen plugged right along, with wood for fuel. Stormy weather didn’t affect us in the least.
I love to watch a thunderstorm approaching, but they can be dangerous and threatening when the heavens unleash their fury. We had such a storm a couple of nights ago, when the jagged lightning ripped through the heavens followed by ear-splitting rolls of thunder. The rain came in sheets, and the wind blew fiercely. All at once hail balls began bouncing off the roof, and collected on the walk.
When the storm passed, patches of blue appeared, and a magnificent rainbow stretched a bow of promise from one corner of the sky to another. I always remember God’s promise to us when I see this beautiful spectacle, “And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
“And God said, “This is a token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a token of a covenant between me and the earth.” (Genesis 9:11-13) It’s not just a rainbow, but a reminder of God’s promise to us.
To watch a thunderstorm approach is to witness the awesome power of God when He strides through the heavens in His majesty.
We made a trip to William’s River this past week to enjoy more of the Lord’s marvelous creation, and it was a rest for the body and soul. Our camping trips are modern now as compared to the outings we made when I was a youngster. A fully equipped camper with all the necessities is definitely more comfortable than the tent of my childhood.
Although I miss the piney fragrance of the hemlock boughs beneath the canvas floor of the old tent, I know my poor bones would suffer. In spite of my broken hip (which is healing well) I was able to hobble around the campsite and sit close to the swiftly moving river.
It was a place of serenity and peacefulness, away from rush of everyday living. Tall poplars and stately hemlocks encircled the campsite, and marsh marigolds bloomed in their own shade of sunlight. Tiger butterflies flutter over the flowers, and the river sparkles in the sun.
It is a place to rest, meditate and store strength for the future days. Generations of folks have come and gone, yet the river flows onward without ceasing. Everyone needs a place of refuge like this.
The highlight of our week was a trip to the head of Gauley. It was 3,950 feet above sea level, and thousands of acres of forest. Zeph Christian, the famed bear hunter of William’s River, invited us to his lease there at the head of Gauley. It was an idyllic place where the campers were parked, a meadow set down in the midst of wilderness.
While Zeph regaled us with tales of the past, we rode to the top of the mountain. The blackberry bloom was heavy and thick, with green berries forming at the lower level. These are the long, very sweet blackberries that Grandpa O’Dell used to pick on William’s River. The problem is that bears love them too.
Thanks to Janet Tucker, “Marbears” and Bob Wilmoth, we have the words to both songs that Roy Cool requested. Here is one of them.
STERN OLD BACHELOR
I’m a stern old bachelor
My age is forty-four
I do declare I’ll never live
With women anymore.
I have a stove that’s worth ten cents
A table worth fifteen
I cook my gruel in oyster cans
And keep my things so clean.
Oh little sod shanty
Little sod shanty give to me
For I’m a stern old bachelor
From matrimony free.
When I come home at night
I smile and walk right in
I never hear a voice yell out
Or say where have you been?
On a cold and stormy night
In a cozy little shack
I sing my songs and think my thoughts
With no one to talk back.
I go to bed whenever I please
And get up just the same
I change my socks three times a year
With no one to complain.
At night when I’m on peaceful sleep
My snores can do no harm
I never have to walk the floor
With a baby in my arms.
And when I die and go to heaven
As all good bachelors do
I will not have to grieve for fear
My wife will get there too!
My granddaughter-in-law, Krystal, sent me a few lines of a song that her mother used to sing. Her mother died when Krystal was just a little girl, but these poignant words have remained in her memory.
“Why do the birds keep on singing?
Why do these eyes of mine cry?
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?
It ended when you said good-bye . . . ”
Does anyone know the rest of the song?