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A few snowflakes drift down on our hills this morning from an overcast sky that seems to promise more snow. The air is still, but very cold and the landscape seems oddly deserted. Even the cardinals have left the bird feeder and gone to roost, possibly in a warmer spot. It is a true winter day, and we also burrow back in our homes after doing the outside chores in a hasty fashion.

However, it is still a day which the Lord hath made, and we need to rejoice and be glad in it. We have a warm home, food on the table (and sometimes under it!) and plenty of clothes to protect us from the cold. We need these winter days. When would we make the huge kettles of vegetable soup, update the family picture albums or sort out the cluttered desk drawers if we didn’t have winter?

How else could we fully appreciate the miracle of spring, bringing alive again a cold, dead earth? Also, the pure, new-fallen snow, stretching across the fields in undulating waves, is lovely in its cold, austere fashion. Winter has its own beauty, with crystal, jagged icicles that form on the rock cliffs and pool into ice puddles along the ditch line.

We, as human beings, could not have sunshine in our lives all the time. What shallow, superficial people we would be! It takes adverse conditions and storms of life to build character. We are not immune to this world’s ills; its griefs and heartaches. It is in facing these things with faith in God and courage in our soul, that we grow into stronger men and women.

We would never know the depth of God’s tender compassion if we never had heartaches in this life. Without grief, we would never experience the sweet comfort and consolation that God extends to us. If our life were all sunshine we would never have the ability or understanding to offer a helping hand to others who are suffering human woes and trials.

Just as the earth needs the different seasons, we too need the seasons of the heart “to make us increase and abound in love one toward another.” (I Thess. 3:12) Only someone who has walked the same path can tell another person, “I know exactly how you feel.” I am thankful for the stormy seasons that we go through that creates compassion for others who are suffering.

Mom used to tell me that when she was a kid the winters were much more severe. She said after the first snows came, the ground remained snow-covered all winter. Big Laurel Creek would freeze over with thick ice and remain that way until the spring thaw. Then the ice would break up and go out with a thundering, crunching noise that let them know that winter was on its way out. I’m afraid these milder winters have spoiled us to the place where a blast of arctic air and the accompanying snowflakes are almost more than we can tolerate.

Those old-time winters produced a tough, self-reliant people who learned early how to weather life’s storms. Mom’s family, like many other families in those early times, has been a perfect example of hard work, honesty and integrity. People who live close to the earth seem to know the essential things of life–love of God and family, their need of one another, and the ability to stand tall through the changing seasons.

We had a request from Mrs. Frances Woods of Charleston, who is looking for the recipe for “Brown Cake.” Unless some older person knows of it, she says that the recipe is so old it can’t be found. She would be very happy if someone has it.

Mauna Hatcher of Danville sent a recipe for a snack food called “Texas Caviar” which would be good on these chilly days.

2 cans black-eyed peas
1 can shoepeg corn
4 oz. jar chopped pimento
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped bell pepper (combination of green and orange)
1 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 or 2 tablespoons water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Combine dressing ingredients in small saucepan. Bring to boil just to dissolve sugar. Take off heat.
Drain and rinse canned vegetables. Mix celery, bell pepper, and onion with drained vegetables. Pour dressing over and refrigerate over night. Drain dressing from vegetables before serving.

Serve with Tostitos scoops or Fritos scoops.

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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