Alyce Faye Bragg Another serene May day sits lightly on our hills. After weeks of rainy weather, we are doubly thankful for the bountiful sunshine that blesses us, and for the idyllic spring day that God has sent us. It is quiet today; the only sounds are the tweeting of baby birds in the maple tree, and from somewhere a pewee calls his name.

We have experienced some severe thunderstorms this spring, but nothing like the tornadoes that hit down south. We were terrified of thunderstorms when we were small, probably due to an experience we shared in grade school. I am sure that most people who attended school at that time remember this incident.
Hagar Grade School sat on a knoll, with a towering oak tree growing on the left side. There was a bank of windows facing the tree; in fact, some of the branches touched the windows. A thunderstorm rolled up suddenly while we were studying our lessons, and lightning and thunder came closer.

Suddenly there was a simultaneous crash of thunder and a brilliant flash of lightning which jarred the school house. We all began screaming at once, and panic set in. I remember Rosalie Brown jumped out of her seat crying, “Oh, Mommy! Oh, Eugene!” We were all hysterical, and a ball of fire popped out of an electrical outlet near the floor and rolled down between a row of seats.

It was useless to try to have lessons after that, so we were dismissed early. For years after that, whenever a storm threatened, we would run to Mom. We had heard that feather pillows would prevent lightning from striking, so we would pile pillows all around Mom and wait out the storm.

If the thunderstorm came in the night, we would cover our heads and huddle in the bed until it was over. I am thankful that I got over that fear, as I love to sit on the front porch and watch a thunderstorm approach—especially at night. It is a magnificent display of heavenly power. The jagged lightning flashes come closer and closer, and the booming thunder reverberates across the heavens. It is awesome.

Someone sent me the words to a song some time ago, and the words are beautiful.

In the dark of the midnight
Have I oft hid my face,
While the storm howls above me,
And there’s no hiding place.
‘Mid the crash of the thunder,
Precious Lord, hear my cry,
“Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.”
‘Til the storm passes over,
‘Til the thunder sounds no more,
‘Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe, ’til the storm passes by.

Many times Satan whispered,
“There is no need to try,
For there’s no end of sorrow;
There’s no hope by and by.”
But I know Thou art with me,
And tomorrow I’ll rise
Where the storm never darken the skies.

When the long night has ended,
And the storms come no more,
Let me stand in Thy presence
On that bright, peaceful shore.
In that land where the tempest
Never comes, Lord may I
Dwell with Thee when the storm passes by.

It is not only natural storms which come with such sudden ferocity, but the emotional storms will come our way when least expected. They sometimes threaten to sweep us off our feet, and wash us away with the tide, but we have help if we will turn to the Master of the sea.

I remember one time I was driving home from Summersville, almost overwhelmed with the burden I was carrying. The day was as dark and gloomy as my spirits. I wondered if God had forsaken me. Overhead dark clouds covered the sky and the future looked as dark.

Suddenly, the clouds parted and the sun shone out brilliantly. I realized then that the sun had been there all the time; it was merely hidden by the clouds. I began crying and thanking God as I realized that He, too, had been there all the time. His face had been hidden by the clouds of disappointment and despair that I felt. He had never forsaken me! He will keep us through the storms of life.
We received another beautiful kitchen poem from Jenny Trowbridge Winkler of Hopewell, VA. She states that she has had it a longtime—her mother gave it to her.

Lord of all pots and things
Since I’ve no time to be
A saint by doing lovely things,
Or watching late with Thee
Or dreaming in the dawning light,
Or storming Heaven’s gates:
Make me a saint by getting meals
And washing up the plates.

Warm all my kitchen with Thy love,
And light it with Thy peace;
Forgive me all my worrying
Make all my grumbling cease.
Thou who dost love to give man food
In room or by the sea,
Accept this service that I do—
I do it unto Thee.

From the kitchen of Chester Cathedral, England

This reminds me of a poem that I once had concerning a young maidservant as she went about her chores. The only part I can remember went like this: “Although I must have Martha hands, I have a Mary heart.” I’ve thought about that through the years when it seemed the kitchen chores would never end.

This rainy spring has had some benefits. Morel mushrooms were large and abundant, although I expect they are all gone now. The season is short. Matthew brought in a shirt full of tender oyster mushrooms that he found while turkey hunting this morning. (He didn’t get a turkey but he didn’t come home empty-handed!) These dainty white wild mushrooms are a favorite of ours. They can be substituted for clams or oysters, and are excellent broiled or in casseroles. We like them best dipped in seafood seasoning mix, and fried in oil.

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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