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NEWS FROM THE HILLS : FLOWERS

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ALYCE FAYE BRAGGThe nostalgic fragrance of lilacs drifts through the house, as the last sprays are salvaged and placed in a vase on the table. This old-fashioned flower brings back long-ago memories of Grandma in her long white apron and sunbonnet. She would break off sprigs of this purple flower, place them in a Mason jar of water, and put them on the kitchen table.

She loved her "piney" roses (peonies) and the heritage rose that she called the "graveyard" rose with its sweet-smelling, fragile blossoms. She had brought a start of that rose from Nicholas County when they moved to this area, and we've tried to keep it in the family since then.

It's funny how some flowers remind us of different people. When I see cosmos blooming, and smell its distinctive fragrance, I think of Mom. We lived in a small house across from Grandpa and Grandma, where the creek gurgled and rippled behind it. Mom planted cosmos, with its variegated blossoms, around the border of the little yard. The warm sunshine would bring out the scent of the flowers and it was the perfume of my childhood.

Daddy loved all flowers, but he was fond of rambler roses. Even today, their fragrance brings him vividly to my mind. We had the red and pink ones, and he built a square trellis to support a showy cascade of red roses. Our old house, with its gray, weathered exterior, was decorated with rambler roses that covered an outside wall. One of my warmest memories is waking up in the summer, and smelling the scent of the roses coming through the open window.

Water honeysuckle (wild white azalea) will forever remind me of the loved one we lost in Korea so many years ago. We had been down on Big Laurel Creek, where those rare white flowers with their unforgettable scent were blooming all along the creek banks. Word came that he had been killed, just a few days before he was due to come home. That flower will always spell heartbreak.

Liddie Coon will always be remembered by the spicy marigolds that she planted all along the garden path and bordered around her house. She was our next door neighbor when our first three children were small, and she was like a grandmother to them. Our houses were separated by the garden between us, and Kevin wasn't old enough to walk.

Her husband Bud worked in the oil fields, and she cooked supper early for him. Kevin could smell the good food simmering on the stove, and he followed his nose. He would crawl down the garden path, pausing to eat a few marigolds as he traveled. He then crawled up the kitchen steps and scratched at the screen door. Liddie would take him in, perch him on her knee and stuff supper into his willing mouth.

No wonder the kids thought she was their grandma! Patty used to say that she had three grandmas'. She had Liddie of course, Mary Brown who lived just below us, and Opal Jarvis who ran the general store. It is such a blessing to live in a small neighborhood all your life—your neighbors really do feel like kinfolk!

These three grandmas' are all gone now, but they have left good memories behind. Just as flowers leave their remembered fragrance lingering on after they are gone, so do our loved ones leave behind a sweet aroma. I feel pity for children who are brought up in an impersonal atmosphere, where next door neighbors are virtually strangers, and they have no opportunity to build close relationships that last a lifetime.

Neighbors are so important. In fact, Jesus answered one of the scribes in the New Testament, when he asked, "Which is the first commandment of all?" Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is this, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is One Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

"And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." (Mark12:29-33) Most of us are familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan who showed love and compassion to the man who fell among thieves, when the priest and the Levite passed by on the other side. To me, your neighbor is anyone who needs help and you are in a position to help them.

Thank the Lord; we have always had good neighbors. Our neighborhood is like a close family, and we share our burdens and concerns as well as our joys and triumphs. The world would be a better place if all neighborhoods were like ours.
My cousin, Charlotte Steed sent in a request for a friend for the recipe for Bonnie Tweed cake. We've had two replies (identical recipes) from Evelyn R. Smith of Charleston, and Carol Kerns of Bethany Beach, Delaware. It sounds lovely, especially the frosting.

BONNIE TWEED CAKE
Bake at 350 F. for 25 to 30 minutes
Makes two 9-inch layers
All ingredients should be at room temperature.
Sift
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
Cream
1/2 cup shortening; add gradually
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
cream well
Blend in
2 eggs, one at a time.
Beat for 1 minute.
Add
3 ½ squares (3 ½ oz.) semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely grated
2 tablespoons grated orange rind
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Combine
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Add alternately with dry ingredients to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
Blend thoroughly after each addition. (Low speed on mixer.)
Pour batter into two well-greased and lightly floured 9-inch round pans.
Bake
350 for 30 minutes. Cool.

FLUFFY ORANGE ICING
Combine 1 ½ cups sugar, 6 tablespoons orange juice, ¼ teaspoon of tartar, 2 egg whites, 2 teaspoons grated orange rind in a double boiler. Cook over rapidly boiling water, beating with rotary beater or electric mixer until it is thick enough to spread. Remove from heat; spread between layers and over cooled cake. Combine ½ square (1/2 oz.) melted semi-sweet chocolate with one teaspoon melted butter. Pour slowly over cake, allowing chocolate to drip down sides.

Happy Baking!

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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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