NEWS FROM THE HILLS

Alyce Faye BraggSnow, snow and more snow.  Snow on top of snow on top of snow. It is still snowing.  
It is beautiful—even if you are sick and tired of snow. Ordinary objects have been transformed into things of beauty; even the trash cans are topped with a towering white hat. The towering hemlocks are encrusted with snow and ice, while a sudden gust of wind creates a miniature blizzard.
The Rose of Sharon bush behind the bird feeder resembles a Christmas tree with birds draped on every limb. Cardinals show their scarlet color against the snow, and blue jays add a brilliant blue hue. Modest gray doves take their place at the feeder, along with the female cardinals with their less showy feathers, and a couple of colorful orioles.
The larger birds crowd the feeder, as the smaller black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice, creepers and others pick up seeds that have fallen from the feeder. They remind me of the account in the Bible where the Canaanite woman sought help from Jesus. He told her that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Her humble reply was, “Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from the masters’ table.” Jesus’ reply, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.”  (Matt: 15th chapter)
In this fast changing world, I am glad that some things never change. I remember the snowfalls of my childhood, when we would swarm out in frigid weather to play in the snow. It didn’t get too cold for us to ride down a snowy slope on whatever was at hand—sometimes a store-bought sleigh, but more likely a scrap of linoleum, a piece of cardboard or car hood.
The car hood held lots of kids, but there was no way to steer it and it had a mind of its own. Sometimes it would leave the road and plunge straight over the hill with its squealing passengers. My sister Susie and her friends had a narrow escape once when the improvised sleigh ran over the hillside and ran beneath a pipeline straddled across the ravine. Just then Susie’s friend Marie raised her head, and hit it on the pipeline. It knocked her out cold.
When we came in from the cold, frozen and famished, Mom would have a large cooker of hot chocolate, made with our own fresh cow’s milk. Sometimes there would be a pan of warm gingerbread, which we ate with cow butter. Those memories warm my heart still.
My own grandchildren (and some of the grands) came in from playing in the snow with reddened cheeks and frozen hands and feet. Their Uncle Bob had been pulling a tarpaulin tied to the RV (some things do change!) and they were famished and frozen.
I made hot chocolate from a mix which they drank gratefully, and soon they were playing card games, and a couple of the younger ones were coloring in a coloring book. Aunt Patty is in the kitchen making popcorn crackerjacks, and history repeats itself. I love it.
The column on saving things brought out a bunch of pack rats. Lois McCoy writes that her mother saves aluminum foil. (She teases her mother about that, asking her if she thinks there will a shortage of foil!) I had forgotten that my mother did too. You never know when you will need some. Her mother also saves batteries, new and used.
I used to do that also, until I had trouble with my computer. My son-in-law Bob came over to work on it. He discovered that I had put a set of used batteries in my mouse. (I thought they were new!) It doesn’t pay to save some things.
Ron Wiliams cleaned out his mother’s home, and found a drawer full of cotton balls that had come out of aspirin and medicine bottles.  He also found many balls of twine, and one box of twine labeled “string too short to save.”
Lois Wilson of Parkersburg (formerly from Clay) calls herself a pack rat from Depression days. She just finished sorting out 62 years of snapshots and sent them to different families to pass on to their grandchildren (great or otherwise.)
Joy Stone of Hinton, another self-professed pack rat, wrote a sweet note  and added, “It’s nice to know that others feel as I do!”
I started to clear out the closet in the back bedroom. I opened the door, took a good look at it, and decided to take a nap instead– which I did. If this winter weather keeps going as it has so far, I will have plenty of time to tackle all the closets.
My cousin Charlotte sent me a note asking, “Where did the saying ‘looking a little peaked’ come from, and what does it mean? The word is pronounced “peak-ed” and also means that you are looking sort of puny. Another expression is “Boy, you look ribey!” That may come from “ribs” such as your ribs are showing. Grandma always said someone was “porely.”
Barbara Willard says they used “You look like death warmed over,” and Mom would say, “You look like the corpse of a katydid!” Kay Miller of Charleston asks if we knew where the saying came from, “He was never very ‘work brittle.’” That was speaking of a lazy person. We used the expression “work brickle.” Daddy would say, “He’s not worth the salt that goes in his bread.” I’ve also heard, “He’s not worth the powder and lead to blow out his brains!” And a common saying is, “They wouldn’t work in a pie factory!”
I love our colorful dialect, and I hope it never gets forgotten.
Emmett Moore of Charleston sent a sequel to “angels unaware.” He received a Christmas card from an anonymous lady with a hundred dollar bill in it. Inside the card she wrote, “You are a kind person—you are a blessing to me. This is your Secret Santa, and my Christmas present to you.”
Emmett said he almost cried when he read the card, and praised the Lord. He used the money the next day to have brakes put on his van.
Don Norman of Elyria recalls the story of a lady who locked her keys in her car and prayed for help. She asked a passerby to help her, and he told her, “Lady, I just got out of prison for auto theft—would you trust me to unlock your car?” She answered him, “The Lord cared enough to send a professional!”
An email from Bunny Crockett quoted Shelly, “Oh, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?” I am afraid it can, Bunny. It is still snowing.
These are the stories that warm my heart and restores my faith in people. God bless them.
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Alyce Faye Bragg

She writes the "News From the Hills" column. Born and raised in the country, and still lives on the same farm where she was raised. Has a sincere love for nature and the beauty of the hills. Began writing in 1981 & currently has three books published. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer