Blue skies and juicy turnips are the spoils of fall
"O suns and skies and clouds of June, and flowers of June together, ye cannot rival for one hour, October's bright blue weather."
"From October's Bright blue Weather," by Helen Hunt Jackson
The sun shines today out of a cloudless, blue sky upon a landscape that is pure autumn. The dry cornstalks rustle in the wayward breeze, and a pale blue wild morning glory vine threads its way through them. A pile of orange pumpkins snuggle together in a patch of blooming smartweed and wait for Halloween -- or maybe some spicy pumpkin pies.
It is time to mow off the garden (except for the turnip patch) and sow a cover crop to prepare the soil for another season. As I meandered through the dying garden, I was reminded of how one of our neighbors once sowed a huge patch of turnips. Roy Bullard lived just below the schoolhouse and after he had harvested all the turnips he wanted, he turned the patch over to the school kids.
Oh, we had a great time in that turnip patch! We would cross the road at recess or during the noon hour and pull up a sweet, juicy turnip, leaving enough of the stalk for a handle. After the weather got colder and they chilled in the ground, they were even better. We didn't have sugary soft drinks or fattening chips for a snack, but a vitamin-filled turnip. Believe it or not, we didn't have an overweight kid in school.
We played hard and worked hard, as well, and had to walk every place we went. Mom didn't have time to be a chauffeur, even if she had access to a car. It may have been a harder way of life, but it was a whole lot healthier.
I stumble through the garden now, with the use of a cane, thinking of those bygone days when I heedlessly ran and jumped with no fear of falling. We take for granted our youthful vitality when we are young, never thinking of the days to come when our bodies grow feeble (and also our minds!) and it is hard to walk, much less run.
"Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:" (Ecc. 12:5)
The 12th chapter of Ecclesiastes should be required reading for all young people when they reach adolescence. Was it George Bernard Shaw who quoted, "Youth is wasted on the young"? Just about the time we learn something, it's almost over!
I reckon I'm in sort of a reflective mood because I broke another bone. It was a rib again, and it wasn't caused by a dog or a fall. I pulled out a top dresser drawer with a little too much force, and it knocked me into the sharp edge of the bookcase. I did fall afterwards, and banged up an elbow. It doesn't take much to break a bone when you have osteoporosis. I landed on the hip with a pin in it, thank goodness. Dr. Ede assured me I won't break that one again. My rib is slowly getting better.
Criss is walking up the hill to the barn, with our two Jack Russell dogs following him. The pause to sniff at the squirrel feeder, then make a lap around the chicken house before going on up to the barn. I thought of how empty life on a farm would be without dogs. We have always had dogs -- they're just part of the family.
I ran across a poem that my cousin Bobby (Frank Samples) had composed and sent me some time ago. He had this dog when he was a teenager, but Beaver had epilepsy and died during an attack. He wrote this poem many years later because he never forgot him. You never forget the pets you loved.
Little Beaver was a beagle and the best as beagles go,
For he loved pursuing rabbits in the sunshine or the snow.
He wasn't built for speed; he was never in a rush,
But a bunny couldn't lose him in the rocks or in the brush.
He could jump at least a dozen and tree a squirrel or two
And he'd hunt from dawn 'til sundown like his mama used to do.
I think about him often when the leaves begin to fall.
And those early frosty mornings that I sadly now recall.
If my wishes could be granted, then I wish that there might be
A paradise for beagles like there is for you and me.
There'd be rolling fields of clover instead of streets of gold,
With cottontails aplenty that never go to hole.
If you think Beaver is an odd name for a dog, my mother had a cat she named Cat. It was short for Caterpillar. Go figure.
We have a seasonal recipe that I want to share, although I haven't had the nerve to try it yet, after the fiasco with the pawpaw pies. It really sounds good.
Unbaked pie crust for 9" pie
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups half-and-half cream
1 cup persimmon pulp
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Combine eggs, cinnamon, sugar and salt. Mix in cream, persimmon pulp, melted butter and lemon juice. Pour into unbaked crust.
Bake for ten minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 30 minutes. Cool before slicing.
We want to welcome a new member to our large and growing family. Cooper Eli was born to granddaughter Megan (Matthew's daughter) and Nathan Gill on October 4, 2013. He weighed seven lbs and five oz, and is a beautiful, plump little boy. It is amazing, but no matter how large the family, each newborn is a miracle and a gift from God. There is nothing quite like the feeling of a soft, helpless baby snuggled on your chest.
Sonnet to Birth
By Betty J. Banks
Great miracle in small, dark universe:
An embryonic star seeks its descent
From confines of uterine firmament
Where countless fertile comets had aspersed
And then, division of itself rehearsed;
A nova seeks to shed its habiliment.
Waits restlessly, and then with time's consent
Will, in travail, the amniotic sea transverse
And break the fleshly barrier to space.
Emerging fully human, yet contains
The secret of eternity's creations,
And the trinity of body, soul and grace
To find its truths in its earthbound domain --
To then be God -- confirmed to Holy Constellation.
Contact Alyce Faye Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 2556 Summers Fork Road, Ovapa, WV 25164.