Friday, May 27, 2016

A Warrior




I have fought a hundred battles
In my mind I’ve seen it all
I have raised my gun against the enemy
And seen my comrades die and fall

I have carried the armor of courage
Always wanting to do my part
On land, sea, jungles and deserts
It will always lay heavy on my heart

For my brothers and sisters that have fallen
I will always remember them well
So much sacrifice, they gave their all
In that place we all called hell

Inside, the battles are still raging
In my mind I still see and hear
Mortals, shells and the enemy
In my sleep they still appear

Yet each day I try to carry on
Although I have cried many tears
If I had to do it over again
I would shed my coat of fears

And walk straight into battle
With my head held mighty high
For the freedom I fight hard for
 I am willing to lie down and die

I will always be a Warrior
Even after I am dead and gone
Please do not forsake me
Fly old Glory proud and strong

© Susie Swanson 2016

My Heartfelt Gratitude goes out to each and everyone.
May God Bless you all!!

Here's wishing you all a nice Memorial Day Weekend. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Little Things




I learned a long time ago the little things are the most important in life and can’t compare to wealth of money or material things. When I was growing up we didn’t have much material things and sure didn’t have any money but we made do with what we had and was so grateful and blessed beyond measure.
We turned little things into big ones in so many ways. We never had fancy, store bought toys to play with. We made our own play things with a lot of imagination and a whole lot of ingenuity.

We built playhouses all over the mountain side and we never stopped till we had a grand little playhouse. We’d use old pots and pans that mama had discarded due to the holes in em or she’d let us have an old worn out bed sheet, etc. We used anything we could get our hands on when our imaginations kicked into high gear. We’d play all day if we had our chores done and didn’t realize how hungry we really were till mama hollered, “supper time.”

My brothers made their own cars and trucks out of shoe polish bottles, matchboxes, etc. When they’d get tired of playing house with us girls they could be found playing on the red, clay bank over from the house. They’d play for hours pushing that dirt and using their imagination on that bank. Mama grumbled a lot over the dirty britches and knees that were worn out but she kept em washed and clean. Clorox was her best friend and soap was our best friend, according to mama.

On Sunday afternoons we’d get a treat and we looked forward to that. In the afternoon the whole family would go on a picnic, especially in the warmer months. Daddy always planted watermelons every year and when one got ripe we’d stick it in the spring to get cold. Mama would cook a meal fit for a king and we’d carry our food in boxes, etc. and grab a watermelon out of the spring and start out walking. We’d walk way back in the woods till we found the right spot to eat. We’d spread out our food on an old blanket or sheet and we’d eat till we popped. That was the best eating anywhere. It tasted so much better on the outside surrounded by nature than at the table.
We’d explore every little hole and corner and mama would tell us not to wander off to far and step on a snake. Daddy loved to explore as much as we did and we’d all spread out in different directions and knowing those woods like we did we never had any trouble finding our way back. We always made the whole evening out of it and by the time we’d walk back home it was sundown and the animals had to be fed.

If daddy took a notion to go another direction the next Sunday afternoon we’d all jump on the back of his old truck and ride the backroads till we’d find the perfect place to stop and rest a while, as daddy called it. He’d park the old truck under a big, shade tree and search till we found the right spot to spread out our food, even if it was in a cow pasture under a big shade tree. If it was early spring we’d pick a bunch of poke salat and if we found a creek or branch somewhere we’d pick some creasy greens to take home and cook. There’s different types of creasy greens but mama always said the ones that grow near water are the best.
 When it came time to head in home we’d jump on the back of that old truck and it felt like heaven with the wind blowing against our face and skin and we savored every minute of every mile.

We’d hurry and do our chores when we got home so we could watch Wild Kingdom on our little black and white TV. It came on every Sunday evening and we looked forward to it so much. Of course, this was after we got a TV. After it was over we’d go outside and play till mama hollered, “young’uns ye better get in this house before ye get a snake wrapped around ye legs.”

And then there was the little creek and all its glory. We had one particular spot that made for a big pond and it was called The Old Mill Pond. It was named after the gristmill my grandpa, daddy and uncle had operated so many years earlier and was located just up the creek a piece from where the gristmill sit, or what was left of it.  You talk about having a blast, we did. We’d play at that pond till sundown and we got so hungry and tired we’d almost crawl in home for supper. Mama would give us a good going over for laying in the creek so long, as she called it. But you talk about cooling off on a hot, summer day, there was no better place to be found than that cold, icy creek. The water stayed just as cold in the summer as the winter. We made many happy memories there and till this day when I step in that cold creek that happens to be located behind my house It takes me back to my childhood and those long ago days we all enjoyed so much.

We had the best time of our lives running through the thickets, woods or playing in the creek.  It’s a wonder we didn’t get snake bit but snakes never crossed our mind. We were to busy being a young’un and living the good life and loving every minute of it.

I loved it when families all came together and something as small but yet so big like sitting down at the table come mealtime was the natural thing to do. I can’t remember a time we didn’t all sit down together to eat and that table full of a delicious bounty we grew in the gardens or big bowls of gravy and hot biscuits hitting the spot each morning. Mama always took time to cook a big breakfast for us before we went to school each morning even after she went to work on a public job.

I miss those days even more now since I’m grown. In this fast, paced life we’re living in, folks ain’t got time for nothing anymore. It makes me sad knowing all those little things are still there wasting away.


 Our childhood and imagination was our best friend and the little things were big things in that long ago place where time stood still and all was right within a childhood world. I just wish I could ride the back of that ole truck one more time with daddy going five miles an hour, what joy it’d bring.

                                        © Susie Swanson, 2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Country Side

                                   



                                   The Roses of time
                                   bloom around me today
                                  The honeysuckle is prime
                                   in its sweet,fragrant way

                                  The wild rhododendron
                                   is putting on a show
                                   Soon the ivy will come
                                   the rhododendron will go
                             
                                   He loves me, he loves me not
                                   the daisies are here
                                   Black-eyed Susie's hit the spot
                                   and make my heart cheer

                                   Blackberries are on track
                                   plenty of blooms in sight
                                   The whipper wills are back
                                   I here them every night

                                   The turtle doves are soothing
                                   to my heart there's no end
                                   The red cardinals are singing
                                   and being selfish again

                                   I've been watching the creek
                                   for wild ducks to swim
                                   Today I took a peek
                                   I saw a woodpecker on a limb

                                   My garden is green
                                   a summer's bounty will be
                                   Tall sunflowers in between
                                   the birds are waiting patiently

                                   Each day I look around
                                   there's so much to see
                                   I'm waiting for lightning bugs to abound
                                   it's a treasure to me

                                   Oh the beautiful country side
                                    so much living I've sown
                                    To live else where I've tried
                                    but there's no place like home

                                        © Susie Swanson, 2016

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Down An Old Dirt Road






Old country roads remind me of walking to church come Sunday morning and walking back come Sunday night. They remind me of walking to the little country store with mama's list in hand. Those early morning walks to catch the school bus and walking back in home at end of day, stopping long enough take our shoes off and wade across the little creek come warm weather, is priceless.

The fresh morning smells of honeysuckle, wild roses, mountain laurel or crabapple blossoms drifting in the spring time air, or walking in those big snows that were knee deep in the winter, rolling in the snow and throwing snowballs at each other along the way.

Taking refuge under a big tree come a hard, summer's rain and still takin a wetting and loving it to no end. Then we ran through mud holes with our bare feet, busting em wide open, never thinking about getting the toe itch till it was to late.

Ahhhh, how can I forget the huckleberries and that sweet taste. We knew exactly where they came up and picked em fast as they ripened, along side the road.

And those delicious blackberries we picked for mama to can and looking forward to that fresh blackberry cobbler, all the while eating more than we picked. Never thinking twice about the chiggers or poison ivy till it was to late.

Climbing over barbed wire fences and ripping our clothes to pick poke salat for mama. She didn't take to kindly to the ripped clothes or the dangers of getting snake bit but the poke salat changed the subject really quick.

  Riding an ole, rusted bicycle around every curve and bend, with nary a brake knowing we'd hit the ditch or the creek. It's a wonders we hadn't broke our neck or worse.

And trying to outrun the others to get the mail every day and stumping our toes along the way. They never did have a chance to heal. When cold weather settled in and we had to wear shoes we'd still hobble down those ole roads.

I couldn’t count how many trips we made to and fro carrying gallons of milk from the neighbors when we were between cows, hungry for some good cornbread and milk to go along with supper, sometimes making a complete meal out of it.

 And how can I forget takin a few poufs off of a cigarette butt after snatchin it outta the yard when daddy threw it down. Ahhhh, the sickness and turning green that followed, I'd sure like to forget and is still a reminder today. I said then and there, "never again.” Whewww.

It didn't matter the season or the weather, we made memories to last a lifetime and those ole dirt roads paved the way.


There's so many memories that still linger. I go back quite often and listen to the echoes of a childhood full of many seeds that's been sowed. How can we ever forget an old dirt road.

                                               © Susie Swanson, 2016

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Mother's Love




A mother’s love reaches across the miles and years
It can touch a heart so strong and stretch across the sea
Her prayers can lift higher and calm the deepest fears
Uttering still, so tender yet brave throughout eternity

God grants her voice the bravest song of cheer
From cradle and after death in the music of the wind
The same sweet song she sang when she was here
A craving reminder, our most enduring friend

We hear her voice like some far beckoning hope
And smell her perfume in the fragrance of each flower
So often when the wind is blowing down some steep slope
We feel her loving arms around us with a mighty power

When God designed her he placed a heavenly crown
To shine with splendor and love straight from above
To prove that she is so worthy of and heaven bound
What more can we ask for or need than a mother’s love

© Susie Swanson, 2016

Happy Mother's Day to each and everyone!!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Planting Forty Acres




Every year when spring time rolls around, my thoughts take me back to daddy and how he loved planting his gardens. When I say gardens I mean forty acres. That’s what mama used to call it. He’d start planning his planting and looking at the signs early as February. If it’d been a mild winter he’d have the taters, onion beds, cabbage, lettuce, etc. in the ground by the end of February. If it was a harsh winter and late spring he’d be chomping at the bits to get it all in the ground, especially the taters. Mama would tell him, “ye need not fret, them taters won’t come up none till the ground warms and ye know it.” And the signs had to be dark nights before he put the taters in the ground or he’d say, “they’ll be all vines and no taters.” That meant no full moon or new moon. So he’d wait it out till he got the chance at it. And he’d stay right with those gardens, nary a weed was allowed to grow.

 My oldest brother helped him plow out the patches and it’d take em forever to get em plowed. Daddy had an old mule at one time but when he graduated to a tilter he didn’t know how to use it. My brother caught on and he mainly worked the tilter after that, especially after daddy started showing his age. But that didn’t stop him none. He kept on wanting those patches planted every year and the more the better. He’d plant enough to keep an army going, as mama used to say.

We all helped with the planting and harvesting. I remember many a day planting that corn and beans and anything else for that matter. I always dreaded it when it came time to gather the corn out of the field. Man, I hated getting stung by those pack saddles, it hurt so bad.

He always said there were good years and bad years for everything. For example, if the cabbage didn’t do any good he’d say it wasn’t a good year for it. That meant the weather wasn’t just right or etc. He always watched the signs and made sure it was a good time to plant anything. He was like mama when it came to her canning and pickling, especially pickling or making kraut.

When the cabbage came in and the signs were good for making kraut, that was an all day job. We chopped that cabbage with a cream can that daddy would take the top off and sharpen it really good with a file or sharpening stone. We’d pack the cabbage in jars after we chopped it fine enough and for every quart we’d add a teaspoon of pickling salt and a teaspoon of sugar. Then we’d add warm water straight from the kitchen faucet to it as we stuck a butter knife down in the middle and around the edges of the kraut till the water filled to the top of the rim. Mama always said the sugar was for keeping it white and she always wanted her kraut to stay white. When the cans were ready we’d help daddy carry them to the smokehouse cause they had to be put in a cool place to work off.

He always planted patches of early corn and beans and late corn and beans. They all kinda straggled in and we’d break and string beans in the summer till late into the night. Mama didn’t have anything but a hot water canner and having to can on a wood cook stove she’d save the hot water bath till morning.

A lot of the beans were pickled with corn and put in churn jars to work off when the signs were just right. We’d mix them all together and put em in the churn and add a cup of pickling salt for every five gallon of water. Those beans had to work off for nine days and we’d take em out and put em in a big pan on the stove and get em hot through and through and put em in the jars. Daddy and mama loved that stuff but I never did like em myself.

Daddy’s favorite corn was hickory cane and he’d plant a whole field of it so we could cut it off the cob and cream it. Daddy loved that corn with a big slice of tomato. We liked it too, but he wanted it every meal. The hickory cane corn was the best pickled with the beans also.

Since mama didn’t have a fancy corn cutter she and I used a knife. I’ve laughed so hard at her when I’d look at her glasses and how speckled they were. Of course, we were both covered in corn and the whole kitchen as well. It even got on the ceilings.

When the summer bounty started coming in it was overwhelming to say the least. There were so many things that needed canning or pickling and a lot came in when the blackberries, strawberries, etc. got ripe. I helped mama many a day stand over that wood cook stove filling cans fast as we could. The heat was suffocating but as mama used to say, “it’ll beat a snowball any day.” Of course this would be after we’d hit the blackberry patch at daybreak. There’d sit the buckets of blackberries to put up as well. She’d can a lot of them to make cobblers but she liked to have a few cans on hand just to drink when someone got the sick stomach. They sure do settle the stomach and I know firsthand.

After we got a deep freezer the rest of the berries would be put in the freezer till time for jelly and jam making. Mama liked to wait and make it in late summer or fall. She always said it would thicken better when the humidity wasn’t so high. She never had any trouble with it thickening anytime best I remember.

All that good bounty sure did taste good come cold weather and like mama said it sure did beat a snowball. I look around today and see so many patches empty compared to back then and it makes me sad. A lot of folks still plant gardens and we try to put a little one out but as for forty acres it’s hard to find them anymore.


I bet daddy and all of his old buddies are planting forty acres in heaven again this spring and enjoying every minute of it.
                                             
                                              © Susie Swanson, 2016

I found the pic above on here but it reminded me so much of daddy that I just had to use it. Happy May Everyone. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Is It Time Yet?





Is it time yet mama, can I go barefoot? That was the number one question come spring. We’d see the dogwoods in bloom or the redbud trees and always commence to pull our shoes off. The older people always said wait till the first of May or you’ll catch ye death of cold. I know for a fact my daddy never pulled his long johns off till the first of May. He still wore his long sleeve shirts till mama made him change to short sleeves. He always said he was afraid he’d take cold. It didn’t matter if it got ninety degrees in the shade and in his older years he had such bad circulation that we might see him put his overcoat on in the middle of the summer.

As for going barefoot, when the shoes came off they stayed off all summer long till school started. When we hit the door in the evening, off came the shoes. We’d toughened our feet so and stumped our toes off so bad it was hard to put on a pair of shoes and wear em all day. We walked the paved road so much going to the store or getting milk from the neighbors that we stumped our toes till there was nothing left but a stub.

It wasn’t that we didn’t appreciate a new pair of shoes when school started we just couldn’t stand wearing em and it hurt our stumped toes and calloused feet. We knew we had to make them shoes last as long as possible cause there was no money to run back and forth to the store buying a new pair. The boys were more rough on their shoes than me and my one and only sister which happened to be a lot younger than me was the biggest tomboy to ever come along. She wore out as many pairs as the boys and had her head stuck in something all the time.

We run through the thickets and brairs till our feet were tough as a pine knot. Those mud holes just about did us in. We’d bust every one of those suckers dry and that toe itch was a killer. Mama would say, “don’t complain to me, ye know what did it.” That never stopped us none cause those mud holes were hard to resist.

I never see or hear of a young’un anymore going barefoot and it’s a shame. I even admit in my older years my feet are so tender I can’t stand to walk on the ground to save my life. I walk around barefoot in the house all day long but I gotta have an old pair of flip flops on when I go outside.


I sure do miss those days of going barefoot even if we wore our feet out and the joys of running through those big, grassy fields will last a life time.  And every spring I still hear those words, is it time yet mama, can I pull my shoes off ?

                                            © Susie Swanson, 2016