Summer sun is blazing down on our August days, but here and there are definite hints of autumn soon to come. Sprays of goldenrod are beginning to brighten up the road banks with their cheerful yellow, and Joe-Pye weed is blooming. There are many varieties of goldenrod, but my favorite is the sweet goldenrod with its flower heads arranged on one side of slightly arching branches. The crushed leaves of this flower gives off a sweet licorice scent, and tea can be brewed from this. (Although I’ve never tried it.)

Joe-Pye weed is not left behind in the fragrance department. The foliage of this plant smells like vanilla when it is crushed. It derived its name (according to folklore) from an American Indian named “Joe Pye” who used it to cure fevers, and was supposed to be used to treat an outbreak of typhus by the early American colonists. Joe-Pye weed is also called gravel root or kidney root. A strong decoction is esteemed as a remedy for gravel (sand-like granular material of the urinary tract) and bladder, kidney and urinary system.

The powdered flowers have a reputation for treating long standing wounds.

Goldenrod is also used as a home remedy for stones and pain in the kidneys. Recommended dosage is one ounce of leaves steeped in a pint of boiling water. Dosage is a wine glass full taken frequently. Since tea can be made with goldenrod leaves, this should be a harmless remedy. As my Grandpa O’Dell used to say, “Do you no good–do you no harm.”

The school children’s days of vacation are numbered. Soon, the yellow school buses will be making their way through the hills and ridges of Clay County, picking up eager (or maybe reluctant) children for their learning institutions. Some of the grandchildren are bored with summertime anyway, and anxious to meet the friends that they haven’t seen all summer. My children were always ready to return to school, and to tell the truth, I was ready also!

Autumn has always been my favorite season, with most of the canning and preserving finished. The cooler days were a boon after laboring in the hot summer sun to harvest and put away summer’s goodness for the winter. This year, garden crops are scanty, and canning is not much of a chore. Although we did freeze 42 quart bags of cut-off sweet corn.

Peaches are in season now, and it’s hard to resist a sweet, juicy peach. I made a peach cream cheese pie that only lasted part of the day–the great-grandchildren loved it. My granddaughter-in-law Katrina requested the recipe, and it’s quite simple really–and it is delicious.

Make a graham cracker crust in a 9×13 pan, and let cool. (I like to bake it for eight minutes in a 350 degree oven.) Peel and slice a quart or more of ripe peaches, and chill. Make the filling using two packages of softened cream cheese, one cup of confectioner’s sugar, and 8-12 ounce tub of whipped topping. Mix well, and spoon on crust. Refrigerate until cool. Spread peach slices on top of filling. Make glaze using one cup of cold water, one cup of sugar, dash of salt and two tablespoons of white corn syrup. Bring to boil, cook until thick and remove from heat. Add small package of peach Jello and stir until dissolved. Chill until syrupy but not set, and pour over peach slices. (I usually add up to ¾ cup cold water if it seems to be too thick.) Keep refrigerated. You can use strawberries and strawberry Jello instead of peaches if desired.

Here is another installment of the true story of B. O. Plenty, the skunk.

“My Dad gave him the name after a character in the Dick Tracy comic strip, but we simply called him B. O. He had a voracious appetite and grew at an astonishing rate. He loved to be scratched and stroked, and had the playful nature of a kitten. Within a few days he was scampering about the house and yard and making mock skunk attacks on chair legs or clumps of grass.

“In a very short time, he would follow family members dutifully on short walks so close that his busy nose would bump our heels with every step. If the pace was deliberately quickened, B. O. simply tracked us patiently with a surprisingly acute sense of smell. It soon became obvious that skunks are very near-sighted, completely fearless, and have a fondness for mock warfare.

“His greeting when approached was always the same. In full battle array, B. O. would charge like a furry horseshoe, running full speed with both ends pointed in the direction of his charge. His tail would lay flat against his spine with the tip curled upward. He came relentlessly on until he ran into a foot, leg or a waiting hand. Then we would wiggle, kick and nibble fingers to express all the affection his wild little heart could muster.

“All of my teenage friends were quickly won to this affectionate clown so he was welcomed wherever I was. He was equally content to doze on the lap of new-found friends or romp with them and perform his delightful war dance, but I was becoming concerned about his natural protection system.

Although he was growing rapidly, he had never released any of the odor that is associated with skunks and I feared that sudden real danger might cost him his life. These fears were put to rest at his mealtime one evening when a visiting collie approached a little too quickly. It was just a small, quickly dissipating shot, but I knew then that he was 100% skunk!”
Written by my cousin Frank S. (Bobby) Samples.

It is marvelous how God has created all of Nature’s miracles; all the animal kingdom, birds of the air and fish of sea and gave us dominion over all. I think some of the animals were created for man’s pleasure and enjoyment. There is some controversy whether animals have souls, but I just read in Job 12-10, “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.”

By S, Alicia Poole
When you doubt the lovely silence
Of a quiet wooded place,
When you doubt the path of silver
Of some moonlit water space,
When you doubt the winds a’blowing,
Flash of lightning, glistening rain,
Sun or starlit heavens above you
On the land or bounding main,
When you doubt the sleep of loved ones
Deep beneath some precious sod,
Listen to a soft voice saying,
“Be still, and know that I am God.”

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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