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BACK TO SCHOOL - News From The Hills

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August always seemed to me to be the tail end of summer, but the season seems to be hanging on. The garden is at its peak, while the housewife rushes to get it all canned and frozen while it is ready. This is the busiest time of the year for us, but when the canning season is over and the youngsters are back in school is welcome relief. No wonder that autumn is our favorite season!

I've heard mothers say that they hated to see their children go back to school, but it would be hypocritical for me to say that. Of course my children are grown up and flown the nest, but we once had six in school at one time. We endured two rush hours—getting them all off to school, and bath time and putting them to bed.

I still have nightmares about trying to get them on the school bus without leaving someone behind. Then, too, we had one bathroom for all eight of us. (Now we have two bathrooms for the two of us!) Criss installed a shower stall in the wash house and the boys took their showers there. That was a life saver!

On top of that, we had a total of 17 kids (counting ours) who had a 20-minute wait after the contract bus ran until the school bus came. Some of them grabbed a biscuit as they went streaming out the door to catch the bus. We only had one prodigal; a little girl who hid in the culvert because she didn't want to go to school. Do I want to do it over? I really don't think so!

I still get a pang though, when I see the great-grandchildren boarding the school bus for their first day of school and I realize how the generations seem to evolve faster. Still clear in my mind is my first day at the Hagar Grade School—I was thrilled and excited. It's hard to believe that it's been 73 years since I trudged up the hill to the old school house. Do I want to do it over? Again, I don't think so!

My cousin Bob (Frank Samples) sent me an original poem which describes the plight of us older folks. I think he hit the nail on the head!

SONG OF THE OLD
I awaken too early and struggle to rise
The stiffness and pain an unwanted surprise.
I wonder just what that I have done wrong
And the answer, I think, is living too long.

I head to the bathroom with a stumbling gait
And hope against hope that I'm not too late.
I know some people (they've all been my friends)
Who won't start a day without their Depends.

My mate will then ask, "Is anything wrong?"
And gives me the reason for writing this song.
I bend for my shoes and the back gives me fits
For the longer I stay here the worser it gets.

Now there's a few things that make it worth trying
Like senior discounts for the things I am buying.
And the young folks that I occasionally meet
Who help me, protesting, across busy streets.

I guess that I'm lucky to be here this long
When I see all the things that could have gone wrong.

But there is one thing as our long life's sun sets,
The longer we stay here the worser it gets.
By Frank S. Samples

I'm sure this was written "tongue-in-cheek" as neither Bobby nor I am that old—though he is a little older than I am! We have passed our Bible allotment of three score and ten, but there's plenty of life left. That reminds me of something my late brother Mark once told Mom. She had just given him a whipping (probably deserved) and he was half-crying and half-laughing and said, "Don't let that gray, graveyard color fool you—there's plenty of life in the old hag yet!"

Childhood is fleeting, and it should be enjoyed to the fullest. It makes me sad to see parents pushing their young children into grown-up roles when they should be taking advantage of their childhood. It doesn't last long enough at the very most. I love the scripture in Ecc. 12:I which says, "Remember now Thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them." The evil days come soon enough.

I found a poem that was sent to me some time ago which describes childhood so well.

TWILIGHT TIME
By Vivian Hill
The shadows fell so lovely
As evening passed away,
My thoughts turned back to reminisce
On all my yesterdays.
So many weary years ago
When I was but a child
Then life was sweet and carefree
As I sat and dreamed awhile,
Of that barefoot girl who roamed the woods
Gathering ferns and flowers,
And listening to the songs of birds
I spent those precious hours.
I'd place some bits of broken dish
On a huge and lovely rock,
A smaller stone I'd make my chair
Beside my table top.
My pumpkin doll, in her ragged dress,
Was close beside me too.
In the quiet wood I'd talk to her,
As I guess all children do.

Many folks have an abundance of tomatoes, and I found a good recipe for canned spaghetti sauce. It was sent in by Kitty James of Newville, who says she has used it for years.

SPAGHETTI SAUCE
½ bushel tomatoes, chopped
3 green peppers, chopped
4 onions, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil or parsley flakes
4-12 ounce cans tomato paste
1 pint vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup salt
Combine and cook for two hours, and then can in sterile jars.
This is the basic recipe, but Kitty added that ingredients can be added or subtracted to your taste. She says that she always added two or three bay leaves, a little hot sauce and a dash or two of celery seed. It can also be cooked longer to make a thicker sauce.

I found a quote by John Burroughs that sums up my thoughts—"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. The longer I live, the more my mind dwells upon the beauty and wonder of the world."

 

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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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