A small, yellow butterfly flits through the fading blossoms on the Rose of Sharon bush, as if searching for nectar or pollen. The fields and meadows are full of wild sunflowers, including the giant sunflower, which gets its common name from the height of the plant and not from the size of its flowers. Garden coreopsis spreads along roadsides, and is a showy yellow flower that adds autumn beauty to the countryside. Because of its showiness, it is cultivated extensively in flowerbeds.
One of the sunflowers that I would like to have a closer relationship with is the Jerusalem artichoke. Daddy used to talk about eating artichokes, and I’d love to try them. I wonder if this flower grows wild over our fields, but I’d hate to try to find one. With so many varieties of wild sunflowers, a person would probably have to dig half an acre before they found one. My flower book tells me that it has spread from cultivation throughout our area.
This large, coarse sunflower was cultivated by American Indians and has spread eastward. The edible tuber is highly nutritious, and unlike potatoes, contains no starch. In 1805, Lewis and Clark dined on the tubers, prepared by an Indian squaw, in what is now North Dakota.
They can be found now in produce markets, or health food stores. When they are boiled or roasted like potatoes, they are delicious. I remember Daddy bragging about how good they were. If you eat them raw, they have a sweet, nut-like taste — or says my wild flower book. If you see me digging around these bushy yellow flowers, you will know what I am after!
Gardens are about a thing of the past for this year, and hopefully we will have a better season next year when we plant another garden. It is hard to imagine not planting a garden, no matter how old you are.
My mother dug potatoes and carried them to her cellar when she was in her eighties. Country women are a tough bunch, and Mom’s family had lots of grit. They are all gone now, and the next generation is “putting on some age!”
With no frost yet, we still have green beans in the garden, and a patch of late sugar corn to be harvested — a gift from our son-in-law, Bob. After that, we can put the plow and hoe away, empty glass jars and the pressure canner, and settle down for colder weather. I’ve hung my hat on gardening chores, but I still like to can the produce.
August has slipped into that land called yesterday, and summer is almost over. The time of the singing birds and greening fields are nearly past. Another September is here — a gentle lady in a multicolor gown and a song in her heart. Another birthday has come and gone for me, and I loved the cards and email greetings that I received. “Mad Max,” also known as Larry Maxwell, and his wife, Anita, sent me a month of cards. He was the former coach at Parkersburg South High School (hope I’ve got that right!), and although I’ve never met him, I feel a kinship with him.
I have a lot of email friends, which I have never met — yet I love them! Thank you for all the birthday greetings!
It seems that my birthdays come closer and closer together. It is not that I dread getting older, but it makes me aware of time passing faster and faster. (I don’t know why I am complaining — I have a friend in Putnam County, Mrs. Katheryn Fay, who will be 103 next month. Her mind is sharp as a tack and she is a joy to visit.)
I like what the Bible says in Psalms 39-4:5: “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, Thou hast made my days as a handbreadth, and my age is nothing before Thee; verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity.”
I will always remember asking Daddy one time, when things were so hectic and it seemed that I would never catch up with all the things that had to be done, if time slowed down as you get older. His answer was, “No, it just goes faster.” I have found this out for myself, although time stopped for him when he had a massive stroke, and ceased to have any meaning.
While thinking about my age, I came across a poem that I’ve had for some time, and it does fit! It was written by Ellen S. Bosanquet at the age of 82, and given to her sister-in-law, Rosalie F. Bosanquet, on her 80th birthday.
The Irresponsible Eighties
Oh — isn’t it fun to be eighty!
You travel ‘first class’ without blame.
The guard will be courteous and matey —
The ticket collector, the same!
They give you the front seat, by right,
In a car, for the whole of the run,
Though the youngsters are packed pretty tight!
Oh, yes! Being eighty is fun!
Oh — isn’t it fun to be eighty!
Your wisdom, unquestioned in age!
The lightest pronouncement is weighty;
Your nonsense confirms you’re a sage!
The ‘chestnuts’ that yesterday slighted,
Are rare ‘candied chestnuts’ today!
The young ones repeat them, delighted!
Oh, yes! Being eighty is gay!
You may wear what you like when you are eighty!
There is no one to check you and say,
“That gray is depressingly slatey —
The blue is still worse than the gray!”
In youth, you had learned to be thrifty:
Insolvency, fear, and disease!
You save and you diet at fifty --
At eighty, you do as you please!
So come! Join the ranks of the eighties!
You will find compensations galore!
And, we grow proud what the date is,
Passed over in silence before!
In the “Harbour of Eighty” I meet you —
Our traffics and turmoils are done!
Let an Octogenarian greet you —
Today and singing “EIGHTY IS FUN!”
So to everyone that are now in their eighties, let us thank the Lord for the time that He has given here on Earth, and look forward to a more wonderful time that He has prepared for us.