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Days from childhood were likely our best

The old hemlock treeThere's a tall hemlock tree at the foot of the hill,A rock underneath, and a large mountain rill,The pine tree looks on as the stream passes by,It sees the stream moving and asks, "Why can't I?"Go, too, on a journey wherever you go,"Instead of this place in the heat and the snow?" But the brook babbled on and said as it passed,"I'm just here today, but for long you will last."You shelter the birds when the winter winds blow,"And often you're clad in soft, clinging snow."Your roots are so deep, and the rock holds you tight,"When stormy winds blow, and in sunshine so bright."The brook passed on by on its way to the sea,
Now firm and serene stood the old hemlock tree. I played 'neath this tree when I was a child,And heard the wind sing in its branches so wild. I sat by the tree and watched the stream flow,I, too, wondered where the waters would go.
The pine tree still stands near the stream, firm and tall,But no one is near to hear the cones fall. We played 'neath the tree, and we swam in the stream,A good place to read, and also to dream.The pine tree was planted so firmly to stand,But the stream sent to travel o'er pebbles and sand.So if we feel restless and wonder why we
Can't travel afar, let's think of the tree.The pine tree was planted and nourished with care,For God had a purpose for planting it there.We each have a place where God wants us to be,Be brave and stay put like the old hemlock tree.CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- This was written my late Aunt Eva Samples King, in 1983. She was a gifted poet and writer, as was my Aunt Adelyne Samples Dawson. Aunt Eva and Uncle Grover wrote for a weekly newspaper (the Clay County Free Press) under the pen names of Windy Bill and Sister Sue. That was before my time. They are all gone now, but their poems live on.As I looked out upon our wonderful world a few days ago, saw the carpet of daisies on the bank, heard the joyous birdsong from the maple tree, and breathed in the refreshing morning air, I said out loud, "Thank you Lord, for putting me in this place. I am blessed beyond measure. I would rather live here than any other place on earth."There was a time when I was younger that I longed to travel, to visit other countries that we read about, and experience different cultures. Now my travel is done through reading books, where the imagination knows no limits. I wish every child would learn the magic of reading instead of always watching TV. Love of reading is a lifetime gift.Books are forgotten for the moment as the younger ones delight in their vacation from school. Some of them have spent time at the beach, and come home sunburned and happy. They spend hours in Uncle Matthew's pool, and eat watermelon until it drips off their elbows. There's no place like the country for kids when the school term is finished. There is always something to do or places to explore. Adrianna and Lainee get excited over a salamander, and a trip to Elk River to swim and picnic makes a wonderful day. Maddy is fearless, and has learned to swim already.If they only knew, these days are probably the best ones in their lives. I asked my sister Mary Ellen one time if she could choose one day in the past to live over, what would it be? She pondered for a little bit, and then said slowly, "I don't know -- but I do know it would be when I was young and had no worries. I felt safe and secure, knowing that Mommy and Daddy would take care of me." You don't realize at the time what a blessing it is to be free from care and responsibilities.

• • •We had a request from Phyllis Carroll of Gassaway a couple of weeks ago for a recipe for potato salad made without mayonnaise. The first response came from Ilene Houchin of Summersville. She says that she used to make a homemade dressing with eggs, milk, vinegar and celery seed, but she discovered that Marzetti's slaw dressing tasted the same. She uses it on potato salad, macaroni salad, slaw, chicken salad or on any salad.The second response came from Jean Morgan of Teays Valley, and she credits Momma Jarroll of the Country Road Inn for the recipe.POTATO SALADSix potatoes, unpeeled1/4 cup celery, chopped2 tablespoons green onions, chopped1/4 cup black olives, sliced1/2 cup olive oil1/4 cup wine vinegarSaltBoil the unpeeled potatoes in salted water until they are just tender (Do not overcook.)Peel the potatoes immediately without cooling and dice them into 1" cubes. Coat the potatoes with the oil and allow them to cool. Toss the cooled potatoes with the remaining ingredients and adjust salt to taste. Serve cold.I've been thinking about some of our colloquial sayings, and the difference in our expressions that vary from family to family. We always called tomatoes thickened with flour or cornstarch, added milk and butter "creamed tomatoes." Others called it "tomato gravy," and Kathleen Slaughter of Winfield says their family called it "tomato dip." Don Norman of Elyria said that he didn't know the cow ate up the grindstone, but he had heard the cat ate the mattock!From Bea McElhinny come these old time expressions: "So tight that she would skin a louse for its hide and tallow." "Useless as a whistle on a kraut cutter." Gene Bowles of Point Pleasant sends a collection of old country sayings including, "He's as crooked as a barrel of fish hooks!" "Pretty as a speckled pup." (That reminds me of how Daddy described Mom when he first met her, "She was as pretty as a speckled steamboat on a striped river!")Tom Miller sends this parting thought, "Judge not! Remember -- just going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car." I've always heard, "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more that going to the chicken house makes you a chicken." "Every saint has a PAST . . ."Every sinner has a FUTURE!" Christ makes the difference. Contact Alyce Faye Bragg at or write to 2556 Summers Fork Road, Ovapa, WV 25164.

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