Golden ragwort is spread all over the hillside here, and soft, pink-topped daisy fleabane marches up and down the ditch. Yellow buttercups, so shiny they look as if they have been painted with enamel paint, bloom hand in hand with the fleabane.
Fleabane is an ugly name for such a pretty flower, but it originated from a belief that the dried flowers could rid a dwelling of fleas. The month of May is living up to the old saying that “April showers bring May flowers.”
In the woods, where the soil is rich and brown, many wildflowers are springing up to bless our hills. Jack-in-the-pulpits seem plentiful this spring, and the trilliums have bloomed in eye-pleasing patches. Many varieties of violets are showing their modest heads, and the golden coins of the dandelions bloom beside them.
The dogtooth violet, also called the trout lily, is blooming also in rich and fertile patches. I have read that this lovely flower can be cooked as wild greens, but I could never find the nerve to use them for that. The trees are now sporting their new green leaves, and Pilot Knob is completely covered with springtime green.
How I long for the days when I could hike up Hick’s Holler. I think about the days when I used to take an annual walk there as springtime spread her arms and beckoned me to come. I would follow the creek upstream, crawl under a barbed-wire fence and make my way through the underbrush. Sometimes now, when it is hard for me to go to sleep, I relive the “days of yesterday” and ponder it over in my mind.
The field bordering the creek was a patchwork quilt of wild flowers, chiefly golden ragwort and wild geraniums. The contrast of yellow and purple was beautiful, and closer to the ground grew masses of purple violets.
As the field narrowed to a wooded glade, clumps of long-spurred, pale blue ones grew on each side of the stream. On the sloping bank of the hillside, yellow violets peeped through their heart-shaped leaves, and sweet white violets grew around rocks and tree trunks. Their perfume is exquisite and indescribable.
Deeper in the holler, it became wilder and more woodsy. No trace of man’s hand could be seen, and the only sound of civilization was the drone of an airplane high in the sky. Nearby, a woodpecker beat a loud tattoo on a hollow tree, and the cry of a crow could be heard. The babble of the fast-moving stream, running over rocks and fallen logs, made a musical accompaniment to the twitter of the songbirds in the underbrush.
I sat on a fallen log and soaked in the peaceful isolation of that secluded place. Not for the first time, I thought with longing of a little cabin tucked away in such a place, with only a footpath to the door. There was once a family by the name of Hicks who dwelt there, and an old chimney gave evidence where a house stood. As we grow older, we find it necessary to live closer to civilization and highways leading to doctors and hospitals. Sometimes we like to think on our lives, and the thought “if I had it to do over” runs through our minds.
I remember sitting on a log up that holler, and meditating upon the goodness of God. He provided a secluded spot away from the world where we could commune with nature. How blessed I am to have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a mind that can remember roaming through these woods and hills.
I recall one trip I made up that holler and found a patch of stinging nettles. I had read that they make delicious greens, and when cooked, their stinging properties completely disappear. I found that these stinging nettles are delicious when cooked properly, and they’re high in vitamins and protein.
How I wish I could get out and make a foray through the fields and hollers, picking greens and hunting mushrooms as I used to do. I’m thankful, though, for the memories, where I can go back in my mind and traipse the hills once more.
Our cold weather seems to be gone for this spring, and we can revel in the warm days that are now appearing. In spite of the pandemic that hovers over us and causes us much worry, we can still see the wondrous beauty that God has created for us, and rejoice in the fact that nothing is out of control with our Savior.
When I got up this morning and walked out on the kitchen porch, there was a little brown wren perched on the banister. Instead of flying, she seemed to look me right in the eye and sang her good morning song. She sang, “Have a beautiful day — God’s in His heavens and all is right with the world.”
Yes, we do live in perilous times. In all my 84 years, I can never remember a time as scary as this. Most of us are rooted in our homes, afraid to venture out in case we come in conflict with this dreaded virus. We need to pray for the ones who have been stricken with this, and ask God to take care of them.
I found a poem in my files, and I want to share it. It was unsigned, but really good for these times.
God and I
We’ve walked this road together, and we’ll walk along with you.
Just remember, God and I, know what you’re going through.
He became my strength and guidance, my hope from day to day.
I learned to follow close to Him, for only He knew the way.
His love will help you through this, and my love I’ll gladly lend.
He can be your strength and faith, and I can be your friend.
It was God who helped me through my trials, and it’s God who is always there,
I’ll ask Him to remember you, each time I kneel in prayer.
If you ever feel you need me, for anything at all,
You know I’ll always be there, anytime you call.
And God is just a prayer away; He’ll always be there too.
Just remember God and I know what you are going through.
(This is dedicated to my sister, Mary Ellen.)