“Late Summer Song”
By Ross D. Fortner
(Written for his mother, Audrey Hodge Fortner)
Come and sing a song with me
You, my loved ones, where’ere you may be.
Sing of another summer soon to pass,
Along this road on which we tread.
Come and run, and laugh and sing,
Look around and see,
See the first signs of the coming of days,
Much cooler soon, than the heat of today.
Look and see the straight poplar tree,
See how just today, it seems,
Many of the leaves are turning
Golden yellow, like our lives.
But, what then in our golden years, have we
Considered those things that need to be?
You know, that which is paramount to
Our living in peace and love, thru eternity.
Come, my loves, out into the night Field, with me,
Let me show you the world of Him,
That He desires all to see,
Not hidden from us, open your hearts, and look.
The shadows now, are becoming longer
As they shade my field,
From the blazing sun of summer
And beckon me to visit, my soul to graze.
Let this late Summer Song sing
Into your hearts, now and again
May it speak sweet truths to us all.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Listen to the sweet late summer song! Summer is singing her farewell song. The lonesome song of the katydid sounds throughout the land, bidding summer good-bye. The cicadas chirp madly at dusk, and the tree frogs plaintive chirr is heard at eventide. The days grow a little shorter, and night falls a little sooner.
The leaves on the trees take on a yellowish tint, while some premature yellow ones fall to the ground. Squirrels and chipmunks are scurrying round already, storing food for the winter. We, too, prepare for the winter months by canning and preserving our garden crops and also by freezing and drying. Many folks are cutting and stacking firewood for the cold months ahead.
It is so gratifying to look at the cellar shelves filled with glass jars of canned goods, the potato bin filled with the bounty of potatoes and the deep freezer stuffed with meat and vegetables for the winter. Mom used to tell us that she was canning food for “the snowy days.” I guess this heritage has been passed on down to us, as it is our way of life.
Apples are ripening in the orchard, and we can look forward to jars of applesauce and cookers of spicy apple butter. One of the pleasures of country living is apple butter time. Families and friends get together to peel the fruit, and the 30-gallon copper apple butter kettle is pressed into service. The fire is already burning; the kettle is filled about two-thirds with apples and covered with water. The stirring is continuous, with apples and sugar added as the fruit cooks down. It takes a special paddle with a long handle to stir the apple butter.
It is about an eight hour process until the apple butter is pronounced finished and oil of cinnamon is added. It is a time of socializing with the fragrant odor of burning wood and cool mountain breezes. The stirring goes on and on, and the fire kept burning until the final result and the tasty apple butter is canned. It is a process that is dying out as most folks make their apple butter by a simpler process.
A lot of people make apple butter in a slow cooker, which takes away the stirring process. My cousin Tony advised me to use a roaster, which works fine. A large batch can be made in one, although you might miss the smoke and wood ashes — and you surely will miss the companionship and socializing which comes with an “apple butter making.”
This reminds me of the last verse of “Ticklish Reuben” which goes like this:
“I was always getting tickled by someone about the house,
So why they take to ticklin’ I could never see —
And the apple butter paddle is all in splinters now
Daddy wore it out a-ticklin’ me.”
The salt pickle recipe generated a lot of response, and my sister Mary Ellen sent me a recipe for crock pickles. It is sort of complicated, but someone may want to try it.
Spicy Crock Pickles
(Fills a three gallon churn)
2 handfuls of grape, sour cherry or currant leaves
About 12 pounds of 3-5-inch pickling cucumbers
2 tablespoons mixed pickling spice
1 garlic bulb (cloves separated and peeled)
4-8 dill heads
6 quarts water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups pickling salt (do not use less)
Line bottom of 3-gallon crock with half of the leaves. Wash cucumbers gently so as not to remove live bacteria and yeast that live on the cucumbers and aid in the fermentation. Remove blossom end of cucumbers.
Layer cucumbers, spice, and garlic cloves. Dissolve salt in the liquid — this is your brine. Pour brine over cucumbers and lay remaining leaves on top. Weigh down with a plate and a clean rock (or a water-filled jar.) Cover with pillowcase or towel. Skim off white scum daily. Should be ready in two to three weeks.
Pour off brine and simmer for five minutes. For refrigerator storage, cool brine. Pack in 2-quart or gallon jars. Pour cooled brine over pickles, cap and store in refrigerator for six months or longer.
To can, pack pickles in jars; pour hot brine over pickles. Process in hot water bath-pints for 10 minutes and quarts for 15 minutes.
Patsy Spencer Baughman, originally from Dundon, West Virginia, but now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina, writes that her mother used to make these and called them “Brine Pickles.” She stored them in a large glass jar in the refrigerator, and Patsy has warm memories of dipping in the jar when she came home from school. You just can’t get away from country memories!
God Give Me Joy
By Thomas Curtis Clark
God give my joy in the common things:
In the dawn that lures, the eve that sings.
In the new grass sparkling after rain,
In the late wind’s wild and weird refrain;
In the springtime’s spacious field of gold.
In the precious light by winter doled.
God give me joy in the love of friends,
In their dear home talk as summer ends;
In the songs of children, unrestrained;
In the sober wisdom age has gained.
God give me joy in the tasks that press,
In the memories that burn and bless;
In the thought that life has love to spend,
In the faith that God’s at journey’s end.
God give me hope for each day that springs
God give me joy in the common things!
The 25th Hagar School Reunion is scheduled for Aug. 30 at the Bethel Methodist Church at Ovapa. The original students are getting fewer so we need to make an effort to attend. This is a community affair, and everyone is invited. Good food, good fellowship and loving memories. Please come.
Contact Alyce Faye Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 2556 Summers Fork Road, Ovapa, WV 25164.