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THE END OF SUMMER – News From The Hills

By Shannon Georgia Schaubroeck
The summer days are fading, as they must
From endless hours to short and fleeting light
The bird’s once bright, immortal tune, now cries
A melancholy aura to the dusk.
The children fiercely climb, and dream, and race
Before their wild and unchained days depart.
And yet, beneath the zeal lies a half heart
For there isn’t time, there’s only enough space.
The sun seems low, a hazy orange sphere
Now reminiscing sweetly of the days
When endlessly before you summer lay
And as in the deep crimson dusk you stir
Your soul joins with the birds in wistful brood
Crying for lost summer days, for childhood.

September sings her siren song in the hills, edging out summer and spreading an autumnal haze over the land. Very slowly, almost imperceptibly, a golden hue is creeping upward on the green leaves of the trees. The flourishing plant life and burgeoning undergrowth have come to a standstill, while there is a hint of crimson among them.

The cool notes of fall are threaded through summer’s farewell song, heard in the melancholy night insects and echoed in the lonely, quavering call of a screech owl. There are still some hot days when the metallic sound of a jarfly sounds from a nearby tree, but at nightfall the lonely cry of the katydid takes over. The lonesome sound is echoed by the crickets, as they play a dirge to the passing of summer.

This is my favorite of all the seasons, yet many folks say that they don’t like fall because it is “too sad.” True, it makes a person aware of the swift passage of time, and parallels our own lifetime almost too uncomfortably. Yet, it is God’s plan for nature to slow down the growing process, let the leaves turn color and fall, and kill the green vegetation with the first hard frost. The earth is then put to bed for its long winter’s sleep.

We, too, begin to slow down, the hair turns white and sometimes falls out, and we eventually face death and our long home. We can make preparations to live again in a better world. Death is coming to all of us, as it says in I Peter 1-24, “For all flesh is as grass, and the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away.” I’m so glad that is not the end of it. In 2 Corinthians 5-1, it reads, “For we know that, if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” This is our hope.

If we needed anything to remind us of growing older, it would be a school reunion. The 25th annual Hagar Grade School reunion was held last Saturday, and it was a bittersweet event. So many of the former students have passed away, and the ones remaining have passed the midway mark and are going down the other side. I think our son Michael was the youngest member attending, and he is 60.

Of course the school building has been gone for many years, but the friendships that were formed live on, and the memories of those long-ago days linger in our minds. Some of us went to grade school together for eight years, and then on to Clay High School for four more years. Twelve years of schooling together have forged bonds which will never be broken in this life. Our Hagar School reunion is like a family reunion, with friends that reach back even farther than the first grade.

It was a warm and loving time, as we relived many memories while we enjoyed a sumptuous feast together. The country cooks of Clay Country can’t be surpassed. It is good that we can meet together another time and strengthen the bonds of friendship and love. Thank God for the good memories that remain with us.

Gardens are dwindling away now, with lots of the crops phased out and finished. Our late patch of corn is earmarked for pickling, while turnips and late greens are still growing. Most of the housewives have finished canning and preserving, and now the apple crop is about ready to harvest.

JoAnn Adkins (Mrs. Porter) called from Atwater, Ohio, searching for a recipe for an older neighbor, Mrs. Hattie Justice of Ravenna. She wanted the old-timey recipe for sulphured apples, and I was fortunate enough to find one.

Sulphured Apples
Peel, core and slice apples. Place one thick layer of apples in a big stone jar or barrel. Make a little hole in the middle of layer of apples (big enough to place a saucer or pan in it.) Put hot wood coals in the pan or saucer, and then put one tablespoon of sulphur on the hot coals. Keep repeating layers of apples until you have as many as you want. Make a new hole for each layer. Hang a heavy blanket or an old quilt over the jar or barrel to hold in the smoke. Leave for 30 to 40 minutes.

When you get ready to use them, take out the amount of apples you want to cook and soak in water for just a few minutes. Fry, bake or stew as you wish. What is left in the jar or barrel can be left there until all is used up, or you can place in fruit jars, seal and set in a cool place.

It’s time to drag out the apple butter kettle, gather up the firewood, and enlist a crew to peel. There’s nothing to compare with real homemade apple butter, spread on a hot buttered biscuit. Our unofficially adopted son, Scott Bazzarre of Buck Island, VA, eats it in an unorthodox fashion—he scoops it out with a spoon! It’s good any way you eat it.

I figure that I’ll make mine in an electric roaster, just as I will slice apples and put them in the freezer rather than sulphur them. I admire some of the old fashioned ways, but when it comes to time-saving, modern methods, I am thankful for them.

I do wish to thank everyone who sent birthday cards, messages on Facebook and personal letters. Although it is impossible to respond to each one, I want you to know I love and value each one. I keep all my cards and have a huge tote full of them. I like to reread and enjoy them all over again. I love my friends!

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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