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

Friday, April 15, 2016

Plenty More Left To Tell





Seek a cool, green hilltop close to the sky
Where the refreshing winds of heaven blow
And the birds spread their wings as they pass by
Seeking some destination that they only know

Then close your eyes and listen…… You will hear
Calling, calling out your name
Old voices that you once knew so dear
Calling you back to where they laid claim

Upon the mighty land they loved so well
Across this beautiful Blue Ridge they called home
There’s so many stories they are waiting to tell
Left behind for all of us, to share and carry on

Winds of time sweep many golden memories
Paths of ancestors become streets of gold
Like the tall, tall mountains born from the trees
These are the things to cherish and lay hold

They tell their stories of hard work and sacrifice
With plenty of satisfaction, joy and pride
Knowing those big fields of corn was suffice
Putting bread on the table, knowing how to provide

Riding a wagon on an old gutted out road
If we look closely the roads are still there
Those mules worked hard and pulled many a load
Can’t ye hear the Gee’s and Haw’s still in the air

And when the noon time sun was mighty hot
They snaked out wood for the winter’s cold
Always thinking ahead and on many a trot
A way of life that should never become old

The gardens were a plenty and always bountiful
Leaving a harvest of knowledge behind
Going by the signs is a priceless jewel, so beautiful
For planting and canning from a mastermind

When the fog lays stretched across the horizon
Remember a father’s feet hit the ground at dawn
His work never done, even at setting of sun
Leaving his footsteps and pathways to travel upon

 A mother’s calloused hands scrubbing the way she knew
Washing clothes on an old rub board many a day
 Toil and labor for her family only grew and grew
  Love and dedication became her reward in every way

And they set an example of people coming together
On hog butchering days everybody was akin
Neighbors helping neighbors through all kinds of weather
When sickness hit, help was just around the bend

 There’s nothing as spiritual than an old timey meeting
Many a spirit-fed soul is now walking through eternity
 Can’t you still hear those old church bells ringing
Music to our ears, food for our soul through all adversity

 And when we drift far away and travel many miles
Let’s not forget where we came from, our ancestral plan
Our great heritage will surely bring tears and smiles
If we but only go back to where it all began

Seek a cool, green hilltop close to God’s creation
Climb on up and let’s sit a long spell
Mountain hospitality needs no invitation
Believe me, there’s plenty more stories left to tell

© Susie Swanson, 2016

Sorry I haven't been around lately to visit you all but this Tormenting Disease called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis has taken over my body and my life. I miss all of you and will be back as I'm able. Blessings, ~Susie

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Older Mothers





They draw me to them
these women of old
A rare polished gem
more precious than gold

Wisdom from the wise
through the years have grown
So much certainty in their eyes
long-suffering they have known

They have prayed long
and surely learned how to pray
For everything that’s wrong
in each and every way

They are always there
through darkness of night
With each humble prayer
until the first morning light

With a patient heart
down through the years
To many burdens from the start
they’ve shed to many tears

They’ve conquered many things
with such beauty and grace
Captured what life brings
like the beauty of white lace

Such a gentle soul
and life’s most loving friend
Caring they surely do hold
on them you can depend

Many have been their days
through long countless time
They walk with God’s praise
in heaven they will shine

When their life is at end
and they’ve drawn their last breath
An angel God will send
to walk with them in death

© Susie Swanson, 2016

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Conversations In the 1950"s





'I'll tell you one thing, if things keep going
the way they are, it's going to be impossible to buy a
week's groceries for $20.00.'

'Have you seen the new cars coming out next year? It
won't be long before $2 ,000.00 will only buy a used one.'

'If cigarettes keep going up in price, I'm going
to quit. A quarter a pack is ridiculous.

'Did you hear the post office is thinking about
charging a dime just to mail a letter?'

'If they raise the minimum wage to $1.00, nobody will
be able to hire outside help at the store.'

'When I first started driving, who would have thought
gas would someday cost 29 cents a gallon. Guess we'd be
better off leaving the car in the garage.'

'Kids today are impossible. Those duck tail hair
cuts make it impossible to stay groomed. Next thing you
know, boys will be wearing their hair as long as the girls.'

'I'm afraid to send my kids to the movies any
more. Ever since they let Clark Gable get by with saying
DAMN in GONE WITH THE WIND, it seems every new
movie has either HELL of DAMN in it.'

'I read the other day where some scientist thinks
it's possible to put a man on the moon by the end of the
century. They even have some fellows they call astronauts
preparing for it down in Texas .'

'Did you see where some baseball player just signed a
contract for $75,000 a year just to play ball? It
wouldn't surprise me if someday they'll be making
more than the President.'

'I never thought I'd see the day all our kitchen
appliances would be electric. They are even making electric
typewriters now.'

'It's too bad things are so tough nowadays. I
see where a few married women are
having to work to make ends meet.'

'It won't be long before young couples are going
to have to hire someone to watch their
kids so they can both work.'

'Marriage doesn't mean a thing any more, those
Hollywood stars seem to be getting divorced
at the drop of a hat.'

'I'm afraid the Volkswagen car is going to open
the door to a whole lot of foreign business.'

'Thank goodness I won't live to see the day when
the Government takes half our income in taxes. I sometimes
wonder if we are electing the best people to congress.'

'The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice
weather, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on.'

'There is no sense going to town anymore
for a weekend, it costs nearly $15.00 a night to stay in a hotel.'

'No one can afford to be sick anymore, at $35.00 a
day in the hospital it's too rich for my blood.'

'If they think I'll pay 50 cents for a hair cut,
forget it.'

Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

We Walk In The Midst





We walk in the midst of beautiful flowers
They will return again come another spring
Though winter’s breath has quietly stolen
There is promise of new birth in everything

We walk in the midst of deep and darkened days
Of some that has become each our very own
The sun will shine through and return again
There will be another break of dawn

We walk in the midst of century old lands
As old fields do through storms and question why
Beneath the blinding sun and bitter rain
We too, should draw new strength as the years pass by

We walk in the midst of grassy hills, so green
Where the mighty winds of heaven blow
Straight from the breath of God, cool and clean
As anything the soul of man can know

We walk in the midst of memories and reflections
From another place and more simpler time
Hung upon the walls of many forgotten days
Are pictures of our ancestors they left behind

We walk in the midst of much anger and hatred
A thousand words can not describe
The soul is barren without peace and love
Hatred should never be inscribed

We walk in the midst of tears and heartache
Where pain, grief and suffering has no name
Without wings against the wind we tremble
For what else may come or still remain

We walk in the midst of blurred eyes and weeping
Crying out with hunger and homelessness
In a land where milk and honey flows
There should always be plenty and never less

We walk in the midst of wars and rumors of wars
Fulfilling the Bible more each passing day
The mercy of God is the most powerful sword
If we but only turn to him and daily pray

We walk in the midst of patience, trying to understand
And wonder how good is material things of earth
When we are gone, all of these will still remain
Just as it is from birth to death, what is it’s worth

We walk in the midst of each upturned prayer
Though agony may be to great for tongue to say
Even the unvoiced prayer he surely answers
If not in our way, in some better way

We walk in the midst of a troubled and lost world
Dying more and more with each passing day
Waiting for someone to unlock the chains
That someone is here, the stone has been rolled away

 © Susie Swanson, 2016

Please help me pray for Brussels Belgium. Alot of people say this old world is getting more wicked each day but it's the people that live in the world and God will take care of it all soon. We are in the End Times. ~Susie

Friday, March 18, 2016

My Heart's Already Home






                                                      I can see it in the distance
                                                      sitting so humble there
                                                      an old childhood home
                                                      with springtime in the air

                                                      Children are laughing and playing
                                                      over the hills they roam
                                                      enjoying those simple pleasures
                                                      the best they've ever known

                                                      Oh it must be laundry day
                                                      the clotheslines are hanging full
                                                      quilts are blowing in the wind
                                                      there's sure to be an armful

                                                      The gardens have been plowed
                                                       there's potatoes in every row
                                                       soon everyone will gather
                                                       and each will have a hoe

                                                       The bounty will be plentiful
                                                        like that little, green onion bed
                                                        my goodness those onions are good
                                                        with a big piece of cornbread

                                                        Those chickens sure are happy
                                                        I bet there's nests everywhere
                                                        there'll be so many little ones
                                                        the hens will flog for sure

                                                        That old barn looks inviting
                                                         in that hayloft I'd love to play
                                                         while the cow's in the pasture
                                                         this pretty springtime day

                                                         I can see those old grapevines
                                                         they're still hanging over the creek
                                                         it'll soon be the first of May
                                                         time to go barefoot at the retreat

                                                         Maybe it'll help with the chiggers
                                                         come blackberry picking time
                                                         of course there'll always be plenty
                                                         and scratching if so inclined

                                                         It'll soon be time for supper
                                                         I can smell it in the air
                                                         cooked on that old wood stove
                                                         the best eating anywhere

                                                         There's so many things to enjoy
                                                         I could never get my fill
                                                         my heart's already home
                                                         like that old, rusted wagon wheel

                                                         The cherry trees are blooming
                                                         dogwoods are white as snow
                                                         oh what a blessing
                                                         to go back where I did grow

                                                               © Susie Swanson, 2016