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Summer weather exploded in our hills this past week, with hot days and mild nights, a real change from the frosty nights we endured just a short time ago. June spreads her flowered garments over the land, bringing roses, lacy white ash bushes and blushing brides. June is a perfect month for the youngsters to enjoy their summer break from school.

One of the best memories I have of this time was waking up on a June morning with a breeze blowing through the open bedroom window, carrying the sweet scent of rambler roses. The old unpainted Jenny Lind house was redeemed by the pink and red rambler roses that grew up the outside walls. I could hear the songbirds warbling their “ode to the morning” song and my heart was filled with contentment.

The uppermost thought in my mind was, “Wonder what good thing will happen today?” School was out, and the day was fresh and new. It’s a shame that we can’t keep this same frame of mind that we had as children. Instead of dreading the day (I’ve been there!) we need to face the day with an anticipation that something good is going to happen.

It may sound odd, but our best memories are not of the big happenings in life, like holidays or birthdays or such, but are composed of simple days of fun and laughter. I asked Matthew what his best memories were when he was growing up, and he replied, “Oh, it was playing in the creek with Noel and Eric. Sometimes we fished, and sometimes we just waded the creek and caught crawdads and minnows.”

It seems that the simple things are the most satisfying. You have to get down low to savor the tiny treasures that are close to the earth. How else could you see the delicate white violets that grow in the cleft of the rocks bordering the creek? These wee flowers have an exquisite perfume that excels any scent you can buy. The only way to see the little water creatures, such as tiny minnows, crawdads, lizards, etc. is to wade the creek and explore.

Mom would tell us we could wade this time of year, but it was too early to go in swimming. The creek ran over an expanse of slick rock with a downward slope that we gleefully ran up and down. It was amazing how many times we “fell” and then had to get wet all over. That reminds me of the time that Patty was babysitting Ricky Talbot, and gave him strict orders not to get in the creek. (It was earlier in the spring and the water was still cold.)
He came in later, drenched to the skin. She reprimanded him saying, “Ricky, I told you not to get in the creek!” He told her innocently, “I didn’t, Patty. I was just walking along the bank and the water came up and got on me!” It used to get on us too.

The creek really was bigger when I was a kid, and was clean. There were a few holes that were up to our waist, and we made good use of them. The boys used to catch horny-headed chubs, and some of them were pretty good size. My brother Ronnie and Dick Jarvis caught and threw them back so many times that they almost knew them by name.

Summertime was wonderful when I was a young’en. We made our own fun. We were at home in the woods, and could shinny up a tree like a monkey. Sometimes a game of “Cowboys and Indians” would last all day, with the wild Indians capturing the fair maidens and the heroic cowboys would have to rescue them. We didn’t need television (we didn’t have it) or electronic games (they weren’t invented) to keep us occupied.

Sometimes we had mock weddings, complete with mud wedding cakes decorated with roses and daisies. Janice Carole Everson was the beautiful bride, decked out in an old sheer window curtain, and my brother Larry was the groom. I was the officiating minister, and as I got ready to perform the ceremony, Larry decided he’d rather go play with Coda Spencer, and ran off, leaving the jilted bride at the altar.

It made me so mad that I grabbed the wedding cake; all decorated with pink and red rambler roses, dashed it to the ground and stomped on it. I’m afraid that wasn’t a very good example for a minister. Larry couldn’t be depended on to take part in our “sissy” activities.

We had a wonderful clay mud bank close to the “Big Rock” that bordered the creek where we spent many hours of play. The clay was a bluish-gray, and was perfect for modeling. We made pots and dishes, plus vases and queer animals. We found if we left them on the rock all day in the hot sunshine, they would bake almost as hard as pottery.

I asked my sister Mary Ellen what her best memory was of those days, and she said it wasn’t anything outstanding. She and our brother Mark (who is deceased) would lie down in a broomsage patch, and watch the cloud pictures in the sky. It was such a peaceful time there in the sunshine, imagining the elephants, dinosaurs, and other animals march across the sky.

We were young and innocent, and I’m sure God looked down and smiled upon us. We were constantly aware that this was God’s world, and He must have been pleased at our enjoyment of it. I wonder how many of us look upon the beauty of nature that God has provided and thank Him for it? It is still a wonderful world, although man has done his best to desecrate it.

Here is a song that is dear to my heart.
Words by A. J. Ritchie
I want to wake up in the morning
Where the rhododendrons grow;
Where the sun comes a-peeping
Into where I’m a-sleeping
And the songbirds say, “Hello.”
I want to wander thru the wildwood
Where the fragrant breezes blow
And drift back to the mountains
Where the rhododendrons grow.

I want to climb up on the mountain
Where the rhododendrons grow;
Where the Lord is so near me
When I breathe He can hear me
And the whole world sings below.
I want to lay down all my burdens
And forget my worldly woes,
And stay here in West Virginia
Where the rhododendrons grow.

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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