A heavy frost covered the ground this morning, sparkling in the approaching sunlight that is beginning to bathe our hills. I am reminded of Mom’s remarking on a frost such as this, “It looks like a young snow!” Our days have been unusually mild for the month of December, and it makes a person wonder if we will have a white Christmas.
I don’t trust these unseasonable days, as I always feel that something sinister is lurking just around the corner, waiting to pounce upon us unawares. I find myself looking for bad weather signs—smoke from the chimney hugging the ground instead of pluming upward, a ring around the moon, or a rooster crowing at night. On rainy days, I always watch the chickens to see if they stay huddled up in the chicken house, then it will be just a brief shower. If they go ahead and scatter outside in the rain, you can be pretty sure in assuming that we are in for an all-day rain.
The old country saying that I have heard since childhood is still a faithful weather indicator—“Red clouds at night, the sailor’s delight; Red clouds at morning, the shepherds a ’warning.” This proves true, as you will see. Right now the sun is shining, and I remember days like this when we were kids and took advantage of the weather to run and play. We had rowdy games of “hide and seek” in the dry broomsage, and plenty of ball games when sometimes we only had a ragged, homemade ball. Come to think of it, we played outside in all kinds of weather except rain. That would send us to the barn, to play our imaginary games that we concocted. We even formed a club with Coda and Alen Wayne, and collected dues in a glass jar. I think we had about 16 cents when we disbanded the club.
As Mom told me one time, kids have a guardian angel to watch over them as they grow up, plunging recklessly through life. It’s a good thing that we did, and my children did also. When I think of some of the shenanigans that they did, my heart still shivers!
I have received many letters and cards from folks telling me how they appreciate my column, and I am grateful for every one of them. One letter that I received said this, “As I read your words, I’ve cried and I’ve laughed. I even feel close to your family, although I don’t know you all very well. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us.” Thank you also for the beautiful Christmas cards that I have received.
I guess that is what this column is all about—sharing my life, my family, my thoughts and my feelings with you. It has been a rewarding thing. I have met so many people, and formed beautiful friendships that I would have missed out on otherwise. I hear from many out-of-state people; transplanted hillbillies who still have their roots and memories firmly entrenched in the rocky soil of the hills here.
I love you all, and wish you much joy and happiness, not just for the current holiday season, but all the year long. This joy that I am speaking of is not the fleeting Christmas “spirit” that the world seeks after, but springs from a real experience of salvation. It is just as real on the 25th day of January as it is on the 25th day of December.
Most of all, I wish you peace.
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