The melancholy days have come, the saddest of the year,
Of wailing winds, and naked woods, and meadows brown and sere;
Heaped in the hollows of the grove, the autumn leaves lie dead;
They rustle to the eddying gust, and to the rabbit’s tread;
The robin and the wren are flown, and from the shrubs the jay,
And from the wood-top calls the crow throughout the gloomy day.
And now when comes the calm, mild day, as still such days will come,
To call the squirrel and the bee from out their winter home;
When the sound of dropping nuts is heard, though all the trees are still,
And twinkle in the smoky light the waters of the rill,
The south wind searches for the flowers whose fragrance late he bore,
And sighs to find them in the wood and by the stream no more.
(The first and fourth verses of “The Death of the Flowers” by William Cullen Bryant)
Last night the Full Beaver Moon of November rose above Pilot Knob with a mysterious and unearthly brightness. Its silvery rays shone down upon the mountain peak and silhouetted the trees that still retained some of their autumn glory.
This same full moon shone down upon the Native American Indians, as they hurried to set their beaver traps before the swamps froze. This full moon of November is sometimes called the Frosty Moon.
This serene November day is far from being melancholy. The blue of October skies shine upon us today, and warm sunshine counteracts the coolness of the slight breeze that is blowing. Oak trees have come into their own now, with the deep bronze and mahogany leaves that decorate their branches. These leaves are the last to change, and hang on longer than the others.
Although many folks think that the late fall days of November are depressing (and melancholy) I don’t find them that way. The colder, rainy days are balanced by warm, sunny weather such as we are having today. Even the cooler days are special, as it is a good time to gather indoors around the fire, pop some popcorn and enjoy family togetherness.
I like to make soup (Matthew says, “Whoops! There goes a snowflake!–time for Mom to put the soup cooker on!”) As the days grow colder, the heat from the oven feels good with an apple or pumpkin pie sending out a spicy fragrance. Each season has its own special blessing.
I love living here in the hills. I look out the window and see the banty chickens scratching in the fallen leaves, the diminutive rooster asserting his lordship by arching his neck and crowing loudly, and the young heifer and her calf browsing in the still green grass.
The grandchildren are coming in from school with rosy faces and beaming smiles. They always have a hug for Mommaw. We are blessed in having them all around us. The glass jars in the cellar are full, the potato bin is full, and the home-raised meat is butchered and in the deep freezer. My world is full, God is in His heavens, and all is right with my world. What more could I want?
We received a good letter from Margaret Johnson, commenting on the “secret sauce” that was used in the Diamond Department Store snack bar. She hopes that someone has the recipe, as she has looked for it for years.
She went on to reminisce about growing up in Jackson County. “Your mountain memories bring back so many of mine,” she writes. “I know about outhouses and walking down that dear old lane. My grandma taught me how to pick gooseberries for the best jam ever.
“We picked her grapes, strawberries and rhubarb to make wonderful things to eat. She raised her rhubarb patch right outside her kitchen door. She only watered it with dishwater from her porcelain dish pan.
She said the grease is what made it grow. She must have known what she was talking about, as her rhubarb could not be rivaled.”
Maybe that is what my rhubarb needs—greasy dishwater. It hasn’t done too well this summer, but it would probably help if Criss would quit mowing it down.
While we are on the subject of jams, Ann Bailey of Princeton wants the recipe for autumn olive jam or jelly from June Cox of Winifrede. June, send it in, and I will share it. It is delicious. Imogene Burdette of Culloden wants to know how to prepare dried apples for fried apple pies. Some of you good cooks please come to her rescue.
We are trying to catch up with some previous requests. Clarence Deel, my brother Larry’s pastor, asked Alice if she’d ever heard of “lining a song.” I’ve heard Daddy mention it, as it was a common thing at one time.
When songbooks were scarce, the song leader would stand in front and sing one line of a song and the congregation would repeat it.
One tale that Daddy told went like this: The song leader was old, and his voice was quavery. He began to say, “My eyes are weak, and they are dim, and I scarce can see to sing this hymn.” The congregation dutifully sang that line. He was perturbed by the reaction, and said, “That ‘twarn’t no song to sing a’tall, and I hope the devil gets you all!” So they repeated that line too.
Thelma Belcher Spatz has the last word on the song, “Harvest Moon.” She says the ending goes like this, “Snow time ain’t no time to stay outdoors and spoon, So shine on, shine on Harvest Moon, For me and my gal.”
Judy Green is looking for the words to a couple of songs. One of them is “They Won’t Crown Jesus (or Him) until I get There.” She thinks the other one might be a children’s song titled, “The Holy Ghost Took the Chicken out of me.”
J. D. Beam of Reno, Nevada, once read a book that mentioned a dance called the “West Virginia Backstep.” He thinks it was written by either Erskine Caldwell or Tennessee Williams. Is anyone familiar with this?
“Our Creator would never have made such lovely days, and have given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above and beyond all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal>”—Hawthorne