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NEWS FROM THE HILLS

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ALYCE FAYE BRAGGSummer:

I heard the katydids tolling your death knell last night. In fact, the lonely haunting dirge has sounded out for weeks now. They are singing of change, and cold, and a white, creeping death that will come to Summer and singer alike.

You don't look as if you are dying, Summer. In the midst of your lush, green fullness, it seems absurd to speak of death and decay. Yet, there are unmistakable signs that your days are numbered. There is an air of decadence hovering over your gardens now, with dry and withered corn stalks entwined with wreaths of gay morning glories.

Your mountains are still dressed in full, flowing robes of green, but here and there is a tinge of yellow at the borders of your garments. There is almost an imperceptible difference in your night air, and the morning mist seems to linger a little longer each day. A streak of yellow goldenrod is appearing in your tresses, and you will have to admit that you are changing, Summer.

I remember those early days when you first came into my life. You were so young and tender, and full of promise. Spring had left, and I was ready for you. You were bursting with new life, and eager to begin each day. What beautiful times we had together! Remember how we explored the woods and fields, reveling in the teeming new life that was evident everywhere?
You showed me the robin's nest, cleverly hidden in the lilac bush, with the tiny, naked birds, their wide, yellow bills agape. You pointed out the intricately woven nest of the vesper sparrow, with its wee white eggs spotted with brown, almost completely concealed in the tall meadow grasses.

You brought me the first roses of the season—masses of pink and red rambler roses tumbling over fence and trellis, and the brilliant tea roses that perfumed the air with their fragrance. Summer, you have brought me so much—but you have been so unpredictable.

You brought much joy into my life, but you almost overpowered me with more than abundant rain, and sweeping thunderstorms. I never doubted your intense feeling for me, but there were days when your hot, passionate sun was almost too much. You were generous with your garden crops. You presented us with a bumper crop of sweet corn, and the tomatoes seem to have outgrown an earlier blight and are red and juicy.

You have given freely of your wild flowers that still enhance the fields and roadsides. Orange butterfly weed flames amid the frothy beauty of Queen Anne's lace, while goldenrod brightens every corner. You are still beautiful, Summer, yet you are leaving me.

When you first came, I knew you couldn't stay. Yet with your serene days and balmy, quiet evenings, I was lulled into the false security that you would last forever. Now you are showing signs that tell me you will truly go . . .

I have noticed that your songbirds no longer sing so lustily at daybreak, and at evening I see clusters of them moving bout sort of uneasily. Even their daytime song is almost drowned out by the mournful song of the crickets that sing all day long. I find myself wishing that you could stay, but you never promised that to me—not even from the beginning.

I know that when you leave, you will be taking so many things with you. The green from the trees and meadows, the flowers that bloom by the wayside, the hot sunshine and birdsong—these things you will pack and take. The garden crops that I have labored in—what is left of these, you will claim also.
There were times when you seemed almost cruel in your treatment of me, with the tornado-like winds and flooding waters. Yet I will never forget you, Summer. You have been quite an experience.

You will linger awhile longer, though. There will still be hot days, and calm evenings together when we will sit in the porch swing and enjoy each other's company. It will be bittersweet, however, since the knowledge is there between us that you cannot stay . . .

You won't leave me bereft, though. It makes my heart race to know whom you will be sending to take your place. I love her so much—your sister Autumn. She will bring a riot of color to replace the green that you will take, and her very presence will be a balm to my soul. I find myself no longer able to keep up your hectic pace, Summer. When you take the garden crops, Autumn will give me tranquil days to enjoy her beauty. Already I am getting anxious for her arrival.

God sent you and I have loved you, Summer. When you behaved your worst, I still appreciated the opportunity to enjoy your days. I have had eyes to see your loveliness, ears to hear the song of the robin and cardinal, and a heart to appreciate the things you have given.We will enjoy these last days we have together. This summer will never be again.

But oh, I can hardly wait for Autumn.

We are searching for the lyrics and music to a very old song, "Beautiful Lights along the Shore." Some of the lyrics goes like this, "Beautiful lights/shining so bright/guiding my bark the waters o'er. If in God the soul is anchored/we shall see beautiful lights along the shore . . ."

This is a request by Arbra Beckelheimer of Milton, who wants the song for her children—and for herself also. If anyone is familiar with this song, please send it to us. Thank you so much.

We received a recipe from Betty Lou Pickens of Dunbar, just in time for the last few vegetables left in the garden.

END OF THE GARDEN SALAD

1 cup sliced cucumbers
1 cup chopped green peppers
1 cup chopped cabbage
1 cup chopped onion

Soak overnight in ½ cup coarse salt and 2 quarts of water.

The next morning, drain the above and add:
1 cup chopped green tomatoes
1 cup chopped or shredded carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green beans

Cook 10 minutes in this solution:
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 tablespoon mustard seed
2 cups sugar
2 cups vinegar
2 tablespoons turmeric

After ten minutes, put in sterilized jars and seal.

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Alyce Faye Bragg
About This Author
She writes the "News From the Hills" column. Born and raised in the country, and still lives on the same farm where she was raised. Has a sincere love for nature and the beauty of the hills. Began writing in 1981 & currently has three books published.
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