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Alyce Faye Bragg: Nothing like a fresh harvest from a country garden

July is leaving us, making room for the month of August to begin soon. It is hard to believe that the year is more than half-gone, with late summer approaching. Country gardens are producing now, with tomatoes ripening and cornstalks offering their ears of tender corn on the cob. Corn is one of summer’s best food, and it is especially good when pulled straight from the garden and plunged into a pot of hot water.

Corn that is pulled for very long loses its sugar, and is not nearly as good. We like to put water on to boil, then gather and silk the corn and put it into the kettle of boiling water. Butter may drip off your elbows as you eat it, but it is worth it.

I think most garden vegetables are better cooked immediately after being gathered. The only exception is a ripe and juicy tomato eaten right in the garden. Take a saltshaker with you and pick one that has ripened in the sun. It is the ultimate in summer eating!

We freeze our corn cut off the cob, after it is shucked, silked and cooked for about five minutes in a kettle of boiling water. Then we plunge it into a picnic cooler of cold water and ice, until it is cold. Drained on heavy towels, it is ready to be cut off the cob. My sister Mary Ellen gave us some good advice to freeze it on the cob. She said to make sure the cob is completely cold, and the ear is dry. After it is sealed in freezer bags, it will taste like fresh corn out of the garden.

I like to make pickled corn out of the nubbins that are left after the main crop is finished. Of course, that is when fall approaches and the weather is cooler. Fall seems to come faster each year. It’s hard to believe that stores are featuring back-to-school wear already. We just got used to summer! It won’t be long until the songbirds will be leaving our hills, seeking a warmer clime for cold weather.

Right now, however, they are crowding the bird feeder and consuming vast quantities of birdseed. We have been overwhelmed with huge flocks of mourning doves, which we once called “rain crows.”

We thought their cooing sound was forecasting rain, and viewed them as feathery weather forecasters. My bird book says that the Yellow-billed Cuckoo is the bird that has earned the moniker of “Rain Crow.”

I really like these plump little birds that crowd the bird feeder, and also scatter much of the seed on the ground beneath. Our Dominique hens love them, too, as they congregate beneath the feeder and eat the scattered seed.

I researched material about doves, and it is fascinating reading. I know that in many places they are hunted, and eaten. I hope that I never see one killed. The dove is a symbol of peace, and also a symbol of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the disciples of Jesus Christ today.

As they mate for life, they are also a symbol of chastity and fidelity in love. When a mate dies, they mourn for their spouse. It would be a good example for us humans to follow. I love all our feathered friends, and I’m grateful to our Heavenly Father for providing them for us.

My cousin Frank (Bobby) Samples sends the words to a song from Florida that is warm to my heart. He says, “In my youth [some years ago] many of the boys in our small community frequently had BB guns. I don’t know how many of those kids actually shot at birds and chipmunks, but I heard a miner’s son sing an old mountain song. I only heard the song once, and don’t know if it was ever published, but it had a lasting impression on me.”

A Brown Bird

I used to hunt birds in my boyhood —

Robins and sparrows and wrens.

I hunted them up on the mountain,

And followed them down in the glen.

One day when I was out hunting,

I spied a brown bird in a tree,

Merrily whistling and singing,

And happy as a brown bird could be.

I lifted my gun and I fired,

The course of the bullet was true,

For a moment the little thing fluttered,

Then off to the bushes it flew.

I followed it quickly and softly,

In shame, I then bowed my head,

For close to a nest full of young ones,

It was lying there bleeding and dead.

Thinking back, we never allowed our four boys to shoot at birds. If they did, they were sneaky about it. Criss would not permit any of the neighborhood boys to do it either.

We now have a nest of baby wrens in the azalea bush right outside the window here, and this seems to be the third brood that the mother has raised in the same nest. I can see their little yellow bills sticking up out of the nest, waiting for the succulent worm that the mother brings.

I don’t know how they have survived the heavy thunderstorms that have come our way, but they are lively and chirping for food. The mother wren must have built the nest under a branch that protected them.

I can remember my father lifting us up high to peer into a bird nest containing babies. “Be careful now,” he would caution. “If you breathe on them, ants will come to the nest and destroy them.” So we would hold our breath until we were blue in the face, and never breathe or touch them in order to protect them. I love to feed and watch them now, and we have many male and female cardinals that decorate our lawn.

I love the Bible reference to sparrows. In Matthew 10:29 it reads, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father.” Verse 31, “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

There is a song with the line saying, “For His eye is on the sparrow; and I know He’s watching me.” What a beautiful promise! And I can claim it for myself! May God bless all of you.

Contact Alyce Faye Bragg at alycefaye@citlink.net or write to 2556 Ovapa Road, Ovapa, WV 25164.

Funerals for Saturday, August 24, 2019

Barron, Dennis - 11 a.m., Airborne Church, Martinsburg.
Baylor, Elizabeth - 1 p.m., Snodgrass Funeral Home, South Charleston.
Bonds Jr., Patrick - 1 p.m., King of Glory International Ministries, Charleston.
Burgess, Corey - 5 p.m., Aldersgate United Methodist Church.
Burns, Helen - 11 a.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation, Inc., Grantsville.
Caldwell, Gary - 6 p.m., Long & Fisher Funeral Home, Sissonville.
Casto, Carroll - 1 p.m., Raynes Funeral Home, Eleanor.
Casto, Roger - 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Winfield.
Duty, Fred - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.
Fisher, Bernard - 2 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.
Gwinn, Lloyd - Noon, Church of Christ, Craigsville.  
Habjan, Nathan - 1 p.m., Wilson-Smith Funeral Home, Clay. 
Hall, Daniel - Noon, Witcher Baptist Church.
Hinkle, Ethel - Noon, Church of Christ, Craigsville.  
Hoffman, Bruce - 2 p.m., Foglesong - Casto Funeral Home, Mason.  
Kinder, Siegel - 1 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.
Kyler, Virgil - 11 a.m., Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Reedy.
Palmer, William - 1 p.m., Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home, Charleston. 
Raynes Sr., Steven - 1 p.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Oak Hill.
Truman, James - 2 p.m., Newton Baptist Church, Newton.
Turner, Keith - Noon, Full Gospel Assembly,  Huntington. 
Webb, Antoinette - 11 a.m., SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Oak Hill.
Wilson, Greg - Noon, Roach Funeral Home, Gassaway.
Withrow, James - 1 p.m., Cooke Funeral Home Chapel, Cedar Grove.