Appalachian Thursday – Take Two (the summer that wasn’t)

Man friends, I’m so crazy right now that I basically gave you a repost of one of June’s blogs today. Shoot. I even used the same picture! Well, that simply won’t do. So here’s something new. It’s been hot lately even in the often refreshingly cool mountains of Appalachia. But before you complain about the heat, let me tell you about the summer of 1816–the summer that wasn’t. The first hint of something off came on May 12, 1816. Now, the final frost date for my area in NC is May 15, but it’s a pretty rare occurrence. In 1816, the twelfth brought a heavy frost deep into the region. After a brief warm-up, the first week of June brought more cold. A traveler in Pennsylvania wrote,  “This morning was very frosty and ice covered the water ¼ inch thick. We had a brisk breeze from the northeast.” On June 6, it snowed in Albany, NY. In July and August folks saw river and lake ice in Pennsylvania. On August 20 and 21 frost formed as far south as Virginia. A newspaper in Virginia reported, “It is now the middle of July, and we have not yet had what could properly be called summer. Easterly winds have prevailed for nearly three months past . . . the sun during that time has generally been obscured and the sky overcast with clouds; the air has been damp and uncomfortable, and frequently so […]

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Mother’s Day in WV

I’m at home in West Virginia this week to spend Mother’s Day with my mom and visit with my dad. Which means you’re getting a re-post related to mother’s and daughters . . . Maybe mom and I will tackle a couple of these! I was winding down the other evening and came across an article link on Facebook with 40 things every mother and daughter should do together. Cool. I clicked. I got about 12 deep and gave it up. Several activities included drinking wine (Mom doesn’t drink). Most were expensive–spa visit, trip to the big city. And some just made me laugh. My mom is SO not doing yoga with me. So, here’s a list for Appalachian mothers & daughters. Ten things (cause who has TIME for 40?!?) they should do together. Snap beans or pare apples on the back porch. Ideally, you should have a metal bowl or a dented pie tin for the leavings. And Mom should peel her apples with a paring knife while Daughter uses a vegetable peeler because she’s “modern.” Make grape jelly. This will begin with picking Concord grapes from the vine and will proceed to a hot stove, a jelly bag, and finally to Mason jar lids happily pinging away. If your fingers aren’t purple, you didn’t do it right. Pick wildflowers in a meadow. Well, okay, in the edge of the meadow because Dad will holler if you mash down […]

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Appalachian Thursday – Lion or Lamb?

My grandmother loved talking about whether March came in like a lion or lamb. The idea being that if the month roars in on March 1 with wind and heavy weather, then the last day of the month will be calm and pleasant. I was worried earlier today, with mild temperatures and a light drizzle–hardly lionish weather. But the day has taken a turn and we’re now under a high wind warning and the temperatures are dropping. Normally, I wouldn’t be altogether pleased, but since I long for the weather to improve throughout the month, this is a welcome turn of events. My grandmother would be snuggled under a crocheted afghan telling us not to worry, “in like a lion, out like a lamb.” The weather will only improve from here on out! There are a few other March sayings–probably because March is the first time all winter we’ve dared hope spring really is nearly upon us. A dry March and a wet May? Fill barns with corn and hay. As it rains in March, so it rains in June. March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers. So many mists in March you see, so many frosts in May will be. So I guess we’d better start counting rains and mists so we’ll know what’s going to happen in May and June. Today was a rainy, misty day (until the wind blew it all away). So maybe that’s one […]

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Appalachian Thursday – Burning the Trash

I suppose it’s odd to feel sentimental about trash. Even so, I caught a whiff of burning paper the other day and was transported back to childhood days and the chore of burning the household trash. There wasn’t a trash pick-up service for a farm way out in the country. And if there had been, we probably wouldn’t have paid for it. So what did we do with our trash? Well, for starters, we didn’t make that much of it. When you harvest a fair amount of your food, there’s a whole lot less packaging to mess with. If it was glass, we washed it and reused it. If it was paper or cardboard it went in a paper grocery sack in the kitchen trash can. If it was foodstuffs, it went in a big bowl and either the dog ate it or it went in the garden for compost. Anything else went in the metal garbage can that was emptied just a few times a year. I won’t tell you where (NOT environmentally friendly). Back to that bag in the kitchen . . . that was the burn bag. Typically, my older brother got to be in charge of burning the trash. There was a cinder block trash burner beside the garden–tall in the back, mid-height on the sides, low in the front. I’m pretty sure the ashes were scattered over the garden periodically. We loved burning the trash. […]

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Just One Week Till Christmas!

Are you ready? Tree lights twinkle in the window, I’ve finished my shopping, made a pan of fudge, even sent out some actual Christmas cards . . . I guess I’m ready. Do you remember Christmas Eve when you were a kid? Lying in bed, eyes wide open, listening for reindeer on the roof or the jingle of sleigh bells? Then, somehow, actually falling asleep and waking in the small hours of the morning to wonder if you could get up yet. And finally running to the tree to find all those wonderful gifts. When’s the last time you were that excited about anything? Of course, by the end of the day I also remember being tired from too little sleep, worn out with excitement and cousins, and somehow finding my gifts–as nice as they were–less exciting than they’d been that morning. The shine always wore off . . . Maybe that’s because I’ve typically prepared for the wrong thing. It’s easy to say Christmas is about more than presents and decorations and food, but it’s hard to live that out. It’s hard to hold on to the idea of God incarnate when the world is so determined to draw our attention with all the little gods of the season. So this week–this week leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth–my goal is to prepare my heart for Christ and him crucified. Which the world would say is a […]

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