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The first snow of the season came in the night this week and we awakened to a white world. The trees had stripped off their colorful autumn garments and put on cloaks of white. The hemlocks branches were draped in velvet, but the bare branches of the other trees shone in stark beauty. They were outlined in white, and viewed from a distance looked like delicate lace.

The Rose of Sharon bushes were tipped with balls of snow resembling cotton balls. It was beautiful, but very cold. Snow came later this year than it has in some previous years, but it seems our bodies are not yet acclimated to colder weather.

I have always liked November, even late November when the fields and meadows turn brown and the days grow shorter and colder. I love baking and filling the kitchen with the spicy fragrance of cookies and pies. November brings in Thanksgiving, my favorite season of all.
Thanksgiving is such a warm, family time. It is so heart-warming to get together with our loved ones and make memories that last a lifetime. As we get older, we realize how fleeting this life is, and how we need make the most of these family gatherings. God has blessed us so richly, and we should be full of thanks every day.
Last column on Veteran’s Day brought out several good responses. William Summers of Pond Gap reminded us of the Peacekeepers during the Cold War with Russia. It seems that they are not recognized like the veterans who saw actual combat, yet their job was as necessary as any other branch of the military.

“Russia was trying to penetrate our Air Defense System, and his job was to identify any Radar Blip that penetrated our Air Defense Identification Zone. We also covered the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. It was a stressful time, and we all, including all other branches of the military; felt we were doing a job vital to the nation.” We agree. All we can say is, “God bless all our veterans.”

Our older generation has many memories of “The War.” Bunny Crockett writes from Charleston, “I remember when U-boats were in NYC harbor. One offloaded four men who were caught a few days later. We had black window shades we used whenever we turned on the lights, and I remember the ration books with the narrow blue stamps.

“When Eisenhower came home, all the ships in our harbors blew their whistles. When Roosevelt died, people poured out of their apartment buildings and cried together on the sidewalks.” These things may seem strange to our children and grandchildren, but to the folks who lived through these times, it is real and unforgettable.
Don Norman of Normantown and Elyria, recalls some grade school memories. He writes, “Grade School observance of Armistice Day (before WWII) always featured someone reciting the poem, ‘In Flander’s Field.’ We picked milkweed pods for the war effort. Kapok, a filler used in life jackets, was imported from the Far East, and that source was closed.

“Grade schools in Gilmer County spent hours picking milkweed pods, whaich were sent to the county seat and forwarded somewhere. Then someone invented fiber fill that worked well and cost much less than processing milkweed floss. I still wonder what happened to the milkweed pods!”

Marilene Bibb of Charleston has a poignant memory, “During WWII, my mother had five brothers in the military at the same time. One day she was visiting her mother, and suddenly Grandmother said to my mom and aunt, ‘Girls, quickly, we have to pray—Paul’s in trouble!

“Later, figuring in the time zone difference, it was determined at that very hour, my Uncle Paul was standing in the middle of an intersection (Italy, maybe?) with gunfire coming from all sides. He said he could see the shield around him, and knew that his mother was praying for him. Uncle Paul was a high-ranking officer—Major, I think—but he was not one to say, ‘You guys go do this.’ It was ‘Come go with me and we’ll get this done!’ God has spared many times the brave ones who fight for our freedom, which we too often take for granted.”

Thanks you, friends, for sharing these heart-warming memories with us. May we never take our freedom for granted, or the veterans who made freedom possible.
We had a recent request for a recipe for stacked apple pies. We never received a recipe for that, but Marilene Bibb sent a recipe for Applesauce Stack Cake.

2 ½ cups sifted cake flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon soda
¼ teaspoon mace
¼ teaspoon cloves
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup shortening
2 unbeaten eggs
1 teaspoon rum flavoring
1 ¼ cups milk
Sift dry ingredients, except brown sugar, into large mixing bowl. Add brown sugar, shortening, eggs, flavoring and 1 cup of milk and mix thoroughly. Then add ¼ cup of milk and beat 2 minutes until smooth and light. Pour batter ¼ inch thick into two 8″ layer cake pans which have been greased, floured and lined with wax paper. Bake in preheated 400 degree F. oven for about 13 minutes, or until brown. Turn out on plate and spread each layer with applesauce which has been sweetened and flavored with desired flavoring. This can also be stacked to four to six layers. (This recipe came from Marilene’s mother’s cookbook.)

My daughter Patty and I stopped at Capitol Market last week, and we were pleasantly surprised to find plenty of Jackson County vegetables there. Nice tomatoes, some half-runner green beans, lots of pumpkins and gourds, sweet potatoes, turnips and lovely chrysanthemums were displayed. Ruth Ann Moles of Elkview called and asked for a recipe for dilled green beans, and I figured it was too late for green beans. They are still on the market, so here is the recipe:

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon mustard seed
½ teaspoon dill seed
1 garlic clove
This is placed in each pint canning jar.
Use tender green beans, string but leave whole. Wash and boil for five minutes. Take out of boiling water and chill in cold water. Pack tightly in jar.
Combine 5 cups vinegar, ½ cup canning salt, and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, pour over beans and seal. Process in hot water bath for five minutes. Good after a few weeks.

My late Aunt Eva Samples King used to make these delicious beans, and she used fresh dill and a tiny pod of red pepper. She was such a generous person that you couldn’t visit her without carrying away some goody that she had canned. I miss her, and also her dilly beans.

Don Norman sent an old Gilmer County story about a local bachelor who was cutting wood in the fall. He already had a large rick, and a passing friend asked him if he was ready for winter. He replied, “Well, I got all this wood, and I got 200 pounds of meat in the cabin loft, 40 bushels of corn in the crib, and a ten pound bucket of Arbuckle coffee. What more could a man ask for?” He lived in an old log cabin with a half-loft. He always had two or three dogs that occupied the cabin with him, and reportedly slept in his bed. If he got cold in the night, he could always pull up another dog! Sounds like a real mountaineer to me.

This sounds like “Hie to the Hunter” by Jesse Stuart. We had to read the book each October. Daddy loved the part about “pulling up another dog.”

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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