IT’S A BRAND NEW YEAR – News From The Hills

The beginning of a brand new year puts most folks in a reflective mood-pondering over the past year and wondering what the new year has in store for us. After the bright festivities of the Christmas season, the year of 2016 seems to be off to a dismal start. Gray skies and spattering rain greet us, and lowering clouds give the promise of more wet weather on the way.

Shreds of tattered gray fog are hanging on the side of Pilot Knob, and the top is obscured by a nimbus of mist. After our unusually mild December, it is hard to believe that it is January already. A few spring flowers have become confused and are trying to bloom. I saw a tiny pink azalea blossom peeping through my window, as if asking if spring is here yet.

The old year is over, almost history, and a new calendar page is fresh and waiting. It is human nature to reflect on the life lived this past year, its mistakes and failures, and the successes and victories. It is pointless and vain to mourn over things that cannot be undone. The only profit in our failures is to learn from them, and use the knowledge in our future attempts.

Neither do we want to “rest on our laurels” in things accomplished, but strive in this coming year to be our very best in all that we attempt to do. My greatest desire is to fulfill the mission that Christ has left for us, “That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” The love that Christ has for us is a forgiving, unselfish love that reaches out to those in need. I pray that my love for others will be the same quality-a selfless love that is sensitive to the needs of others.

The beginning of a new year is a traditional time for resolutions; many of them made and broken the first week. Some are vows to break bad habits, but many of them have to do with losing weight. I have a feeling that more diets are embarked upon after the Christmas holiday season than at any other time of the year. The word “diet” has always caused a ravening hunger to fall upon me, and I find myself rummaging through the refrigerator, searching for a scrap of food to ward off starvation.

Food experts shy away from diets now, and emphasize the theory of learning a new life style of eating habits-and to stick with the rest of your life. I pine for the good old days when fat grams were unheard of. We would come in the house, after a full morning of sledding, snowball fighting, and wallowing in the snow, cold and famished. Mom’s potato soup would be simmering on the stove, and the mouth-watering aroma of onions and garlic would waft past our noses. It was a robust soup, full of whole fresh milk and cream, liberally laced with real cow butter. No one would have noticed a fat gram if it slid off his chin.

Full to the brim, it was back outside for an afternoon of more sledding, running and sliding, and vigorous play. Sometimes we had a bought sleigh with steel runners; more often we toiled uphill with a homemade wooden sled that was heavy and cumbersome. (Remember “Preach” Bullard’s sled that he made big enough for all of us? It would have made a perfect bomb shelter! Never mind that we couldn’t push it up the hill!)

The most thrilling ride was to slide down on a piece of linoleum; a carefully hoarded scrap left over from the infrequent times that the kitchen floor received a new covering. The only problem with it was, it couldn’t be steered and we would sometimes end up splattered against a tree or speared on a barbed wire fence.

All too soon it would be time for the evening chores, water buckets to be filled from the pitcher pump and livestock fed and watered. Milking had to be done, and the chickens shut up for the night. No wonder we didn’t have to watch our diets, or count fat grams. Our active life style took care of that. We worked hard, and played hard, and needed the type of food that stuck to our ribs. Since I don’t feel up to a day of sleigh riding or snowball fighting, (anyway, where’s the snow?) I guess I’ll count a few fat grams and push myself away from the table a little sooner.

The first month of our new year is slipping away, and the weatherman is predicting some snowflakes shortly. Whether fair or snow, we need to make full use of every day, and not squander the time. My late friend, Ted Kyle of Summersville once sent me a little poem which said, “When the hourglass lies shattered at our feet, Its sands forever mingled with the earth, Too late we see it was not sand, but gold, Pure gold! And more than any ransom’s worth.”

By Louisa Fletcher
I wish that there was some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again,
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches
And all of our poor selfish grief
Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door,
And never be put on again.

I wish we could come on it all unaware,
Like the hunter who finds a lost trail;
And I wish that the one whom our blindness had done
The greatest injustice of all
Could be at the gates like an old friend that waits
For the comrade he’s gladdest to hail.

We would find all the things we intended to do
But forgot, and remembered too late,
Little praises unspoken, little promises broken,
And all of the thousand and one
Little duties neglected that might have perfected

The day for one less fortunate.

It wouldn’t be possible not to be kind
In the Land of Beginning Again;
And the ones we misjudged and the ones whom we grudged
Their moments of victory here
Would find in the grasp of our loving handclasp
More than penitent lips could explain.

For what had been hardest we’d know had been best.
And what had seemed loss would be gain;
For there isn’t a sting that will not take wing
When we’ve faced it and laughed it away;
”And I think that the laughter is most what we’re after
In the Land of Beginning Again.

So I wish that there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again,
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches
And all of our poor selfish grief
Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door,
And never be put on again.

Latest posts by Alyce Faye Bragg (see all)

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