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NEWS FROM THE HILLS

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It is a tranquil day in May, with the sun beaming down upon hills that are covered with green. A refreshing breeze laces through the sunbeams, bringing relief from the heat and fluttering through the fresh, new leaves on the trees. It is a day to reminisce and daydream about such days in the past.

The first daisies appear along the road banks, and it always brings memories of the end of the school term and the beginning of summer vacation. It seemed that daisies always appeared just as school went out, and was a symbol of freedom and long days of fun.

For one day, I would like to be a child again, to feel the joy of summer vacation with all responsibilities suspended. Let us go back in memory one more time...

We gather up all our books, possessions, and report cards and tell a relieved teacher goodbye for the summer. We erupt out the double doors, and race down the steps with whoops of joy. Some of us pause long enough to take off our hot shoes, tying the shoelaces together and slinging them across our shoulder. Some of the boys are chanting, "School's out! School's out! The teacher wore her paddle out!"

Was ever the sky so blue, the grass so green, the heart so light? The grass feels like velvet under our feet with daisies sprinkled liberally along the path. The girls pick a few, to pull out the petals and begin the age-old ritual of "He loves me, he loves me not, he'll marry me, he'll marry me not!" The boys look down upon such a silly game and chase each other like puppies let out of a pen.

(I am reminded of a line in the poem, "Somebody's Mother" that says, "Down the street, with laughter and shout, glad in the freedom of 'school let out' . . .") There is no feeling to compare with the last day of school when you are a youngster.

We trudge up the dusty road to home, throw our books down without regret, and look forward to days of play. After supper is over and our chores finished, we can play until bedtime. We play "Hide and Seek" in the gathering twilight, counting to one hundred and calling, "Bushel of wheat, bushel of rye, who's not ready, holler I!" Then we yell, "Bushel of wheat, bushel of clover, who's not ready, can't hide over—I'm coming!"

The clear call of a whippoorwill pierces the air, and we hear Mom calling, "Come on in, kids—it's bedtime." We straggle in, tired and dusty, to wash off in a wash pan and get ready for family devotions. Daddy reads from the Bible while we listen in varying stages of attention. We all kneel at the couch, chairs and footstool while Daddy prays.

(Back then, the little ones would drift off to sleep, and some of the older ones would also, still on their knees. I am afraid we took Daddy's prayers for granted most of the time. Still, many of the phrases and expressions he used still ring in my ears. I can hear him say, "As we go down this little journey we call life, we pray that you will be with us every mile of the way." How I would love to hear him pray again!)

Now it is off to bed, the boys in the junk room on a feather tick, and we girls tucked into double beds in our own bedroom. Almost instantly we fall into a deep, dreamless sleep, to be awakened the next morning by birdsong coming through the open window. It is a delicious feeling to realize that we don't have to get up and get ready for school.

The summer stretches before us, with the biggest decision we face is deciding what to play that day. Today we will explore the creek, which has warmed up and is ready for wading. The silvery minnows (we call them minners) dart through the water, and crawdads scuttle backward and hide under rocks. There is a deep cleft in the rock here, and we will make an aquarium with the minners and lizards and crawdads and pennywinkles.

Tomorrow we will build a playhouse in the corncrib, which has been emptied of corn. After it is cleaned out and swept, we are ready to furnish it. (Mairlis Edwards, you can come up from Hurricane and play with us. Bring your flowered feed sack to use for a tablecloth, and your doll. We will find a box to use for a table, and pick some spring flowers to put in a Mason jar.)
Ah—those were the sweet, innocent days of childhood, when it seemed that summer lasted forever. It was filled with whippoorwills and lightning bugs, twilight games and pure happiness. The passing of the years has turned us into grandparents and great-grandparents, yet the remembrances of those childish days linger . . .

The same God that watched over us then and heard our prayers is the same God who watches and cares for us now. We have aged, but He is ageless. From everlasting to everlasting, He is God.

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