The mellow air of autumn surrounds our hills and enfolds us in a warm and tender embrace. This has been a glorious week of Indian summer weather, which traditionally comes after heavy frost and freeze in November. It is autumn bidding a farewell to the hills and hollers, giving us a little respite before cold and snowy weather surrounds us.
The sky is brilliant blue, with not a cloud to mar its azure surface. The sun touches the trees on the hilltops, turning them to burnished gold. It is a perfect time to while away an hour or two, meandering through the woods that are carpeted with brown leaves, and meditating upon the goodness of God.
We need to take time to enjoy this glorious season that God has sent us. With the mad rush of summer behind us, and winter still at bay, we have time now to relax and rest awhile. It seems that we all live at too fast a pace, our lives in high gear, rushing toward what? Eternity? An hour spent with nature—and God—can do much to rest our souls and inspire a deep appreciation for the world around us. Just let the beauty that surrounds us seep deep into our senses and calm the stress of everyday living.
Hunting season is here again, and the hunters in our family are looking for the elusive squirrel. I know some folks are set against the killing of our wildlife, but we don’t kill anything that we can’t eat. Wild meat has always been a staple in our family, and there have been times when we would have gone hungry if not for it.
Squirrels seem to be scarce this year, due to the lack of mast last fall. I admit that I could never kill one, but after they are fried up tender and brown, and served with squirrel gravy and hot biscuits, I don’t have any trouble eating it.
I wonder how many of our men hunt merely for the excuse of roaming the woods in the fall? Perhaps they feel it would be “unmanly” to confess that they simply want to enjoy nature. I know personally of some men who go out in the woods to hunt, lie down on the fallen, brown leaves in the warm sunshine, and take a nap.
There was a young lady I met at the Book Festival this fall (I think her name was Cheryl) who related to me a good squirrel story. Someone gave her father a squirrel, dressed and ready to cook. It stayed in the freezer for some time; then one day she decided to cook it for her dad.
Not quite sure of how to go about it, she called her aunt who gave her specific instructions on how to cook it. She followed the directions carefully, and fixed it for her dad’s supper. Unfortunately, no one told her to cut it in pieces. She placed the finished product on a plate, and there it reposed with all four legs sticking straight up in the air.
Her sister came in, screamed, and said in horror, “What in the world is THAT?” She didn’t say if anyone ate it or not. Noel’s girlfriend Vicki remembered a time when she was helping her aunt skin a squirrel. She was holding onto its back legs when she lost her grip and it flew back and smacked her aunt in the face. To say she was livid is an understatement. Wild food has its dangers.
We have had a good response to the request for the song, “Books of the Old Testament.” Cousin Charlotte Steed sent the lyrics, as well as the tunes they sang in Bible School. The first version was sung to the tune of “The More We Get Together.” Then a faster version was to the tune of “Sink the Bismarck,” and the fastest one was to the tune of “Ten Little Indians.”
Marjorie says that they sung it to the tune of “Did You Ever See a Lassie?” There was a little variation in the words, but basically, they were the same. Mildred Barker wrote from Racine, and also said the tune was, “Did you Ever See a Lassie?” Julie Janisch, Director of Worship Arts at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in St. Albans, sent the lyrics and uses the same tune.
Keith Derrick writes that his mother, Betty Derrick, can still sing the song at 87. Here are the words to the song:
BOOKS OF THE
Let us sing the books of Moses, of Moses, of Moses,
Let us sing the books of Moses, for he wrote the law.
First Genesis, then Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers,
The next is Deuteronomy the last of them all.
Let us sing the books of History, of History, of History,
Let us sing the books of History, which tell of the Jews.
There is Joshua, and Judges, and the story of Ruth,
Then First and Second Samuel, and First and Second Kings,
Then First and Second Chronicles, which gave us the records,
Then Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther the Queen.
Let us sing the books of Poetry, of Poetry, of Poetry,
Let us sing the books of Poetry, the songs the Jews sang.
Job the patient, Psalms of David, the Proverbs of a wise one,
And then Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.
Let us sing the Major Prophets, Major Prophets, Major Prophets,
Let us sing the Major Prophets, the greatest of them all.
Isaiah, Jeremiah, who wrote Lamentations,
Then Ezekiel, and Daniel, who were true to their God.
Let us sing the Minor Prophets, Minor Prophets, Minor Prophets,
Let us sing the Minor Prophets; there are twelve of them all.
Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum. Habakkuk,
Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
By this time, all of us ought to have them memorized!
I am mailing out books now for Christmas giving. I have “This Holler is my Home” “Homesick for the Hills” and “Laughter from the Hills.” They are $15.33 each (which includes tax and mailing costs) or all three for $40. I will autograph them as you wish and can mail them directly to the recipient. My address is Alyce Faye Bragg, 2556 Summers Fork Road, Ovapa, WV 25164.