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One of the sweetest compliments I have ever received since I began writing came in the form of a poem written by a new-found friend. It warms my heart, and makes me more thankful for my circle of friendship.

WRITE (for Alyce Faye Bragg)
By Ross Fortner
Write, My daughter
Write of the life and love
I have given to you.
Write of the memories,
Oh, how sweet, and the bittersweet, too,
Of the life you have shared
With many other of My children,
On their walk through Life,
And coming to Me.

Write, My daughter,
Of the passing of days,
Of the sweet mountain mornings,
The smell of the grass,
And all My flowery Creation.
Describe in your words, as only you can,
In your style, so easy to understand,
That even the casual reader
Can walk the same trails as you,
In their Heart of hearts.

Write, My daughter, of the Blessings I give,
Of children, grandchildren,
And the fullness of Life.
The passing of the old ones,
The coming of the new lives
Opens the heart to My love.
The Greatest Gift from Me
Is a child, why else
Would I have sent My Son
To seek and save?

Write, My daughter,
Write and sing Praises,
To Me, your Creator,
Pass on My Love,
Thru your witness.
I hear your prayers,
And know your heart.
Remember, I love you.

Midsummer rolls along, with sultry days and cool nights, as we head for autumn. School days loom, with the fall term beginning earlier than usual. It is a busy time for mothers, trying to shop for school supplies, clothing and all the paraphernalia that school children seem to require these days.

I remember our requirements—a couple of pencils, a yellow tablet plus what text books we needed. Of course it was “Peter and Peggy” for the first grade (where did “Dick and Jane” come in?) After 72 years, I can still remember, “Peter is a boy. Peggy is a girl. Peter has a dog. Peggy has a cat. Peter’s dog is big and brown. Peggy’s cat is little and white.” I think my love of reading began then.
My own children got new crayons, a notebook and lined paper, and a jar of paste that smelled like sassafras. That enticing smell was probably a mistake, as I’m sure that Kevin was not the only first-grader who ate their paste. It didn’t stunt his growth however. He’s a 6′ 4″ hunk.

Mom sewed most of our school clothes, although I remember the sturdy new school shoes we all received. After a barefoot summer, they were hot and uncomfortable, so we slung them over our backs and came home barefoot. Our boys got stiff new dungarees, and the girls got a couple of new dresses. With a multitude of cousins, they wore lots of hand-me-downs.

I wonder of the young people of today realize what an overflowing wardrobe they have as compared with yesterday’s children. There was not much competition in styles, as most of us were all in the same boat. We wore saddle oxfords and bobby socks; skirts and sweaters. No girl wore pants, neither blue jeans nor slacks. Today it is rare to see a girl in a dress. Yes, Grandmaw, times are different now.

The kids have to have iphones, lap tops, kindles, tablets (and not the rough yellow tablets we used) and ipods. These words were not in our vocabularies. Young people are much more sophisticated than we were, and much more knowledgeable. Two of our grandchildren, Jeremy and David, (Mike’s) have graduated from college, and Alyssa (Crystal’s) has finished her first year.

Nicholas (Andy’s) is beginning his freshman year at Fairmont State University soon. He scored 33 out of 34 in English on his ACT test, and 28 overall. He was always a precocious little child, walking up to strangers and sticking out his hand saying, “Hi! My name is Nicholas—what’s your name?” It was such a short time ago that he was a chubby-cheeked toddler, and now he is entering into adulthood.

It is hard to account for the time that has passed since we were grade school students. Where are all those long-ago children? It is sad, when you begin counting. So many of them are gone to their long home, nevermore to play on this earth. Every week it seems we lose more of our contemporaries. Some of us are on canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. This is life. The only important thing is to be ready when God calls us home.

We were not designed to live here on this earth forever. I’ve heard it said that this life is merely a place of preparation to get ready for eternity. We will all face eternity—and whether we are ready is up to us. We do have a choice. Gal. 6-8 says, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of his flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” It is up to us. It is only when you get older that you realize how very short your life span has been.

With canning at its peak, Betty Banks of Charleston sent us a recipe for tomato preserves. She says it is a family favorite and delicious on a hot biscuit or your morning toast.

2 ½ lbs. ripe tomatoes
1 large lemon
3 tablespoons each: allspice, cinnamon, ground cloves (adjust to taste)
pinch of salt
¼ cup lemon juice (can use Realemon)
4 ½ cups pre-measured sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 box Sure-Jell
Scald, peel and core tomatoes. Chop into small pieces. Put into large pot.
Add zest from lemon. Reserve lemon. Cut white from it; chop it fine in blender with the 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Add spices, salt and butter. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Bring 3 cups measured fruit to a boil. Stir in Sure-Jell. Bring to rolling boil. Add sugar all at once, stirring constantly. Bring to rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil hard one minute. Ladle into hot sterile jars; seal with lids quickly. It may take 12 to 14 hours to set.

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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