Echo From the Hills header

Our hills are locked in ice and snow today, while the land is held in the frigid grip of an arctic blast. There is not much movement, except for the feeding frenzy around the bird feeder. The earth is having her long winter’s nap, while she is storing up strength for another growing season.

The month of January has made a slippery exit now, and February has come to take her place. January really was a month reminiscent of some of the old time winters we used to endure, with lots of snow and frigid temperatures. I remember one winter when I was in grade school that we had deep snow on the ground—so much that we were out of school for two weeks.

Poor Mom! With seven youngsters underfoot for two solid weeks must have really tested her endurance. We have had very little school since Christmas, and mothers are undergoing the same thing. The only difference is—now we have electronic toys, computers, television and a number of things to keep the children occupied. We played a lot of board games then, worked jigsaw puzzles and played outside. (And dragged in snow and wet coats, boots and sundry other items.)

This winter, most of the time, has been too cold for the children to play in the snow. It’s hard to get enthusiastic about snow now that we’ve had a steady diet of it, but Nancy Brown of Williamson sent me a poem that puts a new light on it.



By Mary Anne Martin


Quietly as new life stirs in the womb

Quietly as the beautiful flowers bloom,

Quietly as the clouds float in the blue,

Quietly as prayers are said in a church pew,

The snow came.

Quietly as God places the rainbow high above,

Quietly as He showers each of us with His love,

Quietly as He gives us strength to face tomorrow,

Quietly as He comforts us in our troubles and sorrows,

The snow came.


While we are still housebound, we can organize papers, sort out old clippings and rearrange our files. I’ll never get done. It has taken me half a day to go through one file, for I keep reading the clippings that I have saved for years. Some bring a chuckle of amusement while others bring sad memories and a tear or two. These yellowed clippings are really a chronicle of our life down through the years. Pictures of newborn babies (some of these babies are in their 30’s now) wedding pictures, obituaries, school honors, scribbled notes from the grandchildren and snapshots.

It is a chronicle of our lives lived in the holler, on Summers Fork, Clay County, West Virginia. I have been wading knee deep in memories today. It’s not just our family that is recorded there. Some of the clippings date back to Mom’s family and life on Big Laurel Creek.

I found a poem by my late Aunt Addie written several years ago that I would like to share.



By Adeline Samples Dawson


Warm corn bread and fodder beans

Salt side-meat and wild field greens,

Sassafras tea; dried apple pie,

That’s real farm grub; me, oh, my!


We were young and happy, but very poor,

Back in the good old days of yore.

That sort of eatin’ grows real strong bones,

Now don’t mistake me for Grandpa Jones.


I’m a country girl that used to hoe

Them corn and beans, row after row.

Now the green corn fields are not around,

The old turn plows have rusted down.


Trees now grow where we dug and sweat

And fought sweat bees, I remember yet.

Now I’m too old to stand the heat,

So I go to the store and buy what I eat.


She also included some memories of her younger brother, Gene, and that brought back memories to me. He was born Eugene Garland Samples, and was the youngest one of the family. He was Mom’s baby brother, and all her life Mom felt motherly toward him. He was only nine years old when they lost their mother. He suffered some type of a serious bone infection when he was just a baby (they called it TB of the bone then, now it is called osteomyelitis) and was bed fast for a long time. Grandpa had bought him a little pair of boots that sat on the dresser, and he never got to wear them.

What I remember most was about Uncle Gene was his patient suffering. He was lame in that leg, and had undergone many surgeries. When he was at the CCC Camp, he injured his leg and was sent to Walter Reed Hospital for 18 months. When he was discharged, he was never very well and suffered so much.

However, he married and raised a family of four boys and four girls, all healthy. I loved going to visit them when I was a youngster as there was nearly always a baby to rock. Uncle Gene and Aunt Maycle raised their children up in the Lord, and as time went by his leg grew worse and he suffered terribly. What I remember most was that he never complained.

He developed cancer in his eye, and still he suffered in silence. In later years when we visited, he would sit in his rocking chair and play his guitar and sing. I remember him singing, “It’s Me Again Lord,” and I can still hear him singing, “It’s me again Lord, I’ve got a prayer that needs an answer/It’s me again Lord, I’ve got a problem I can’t solve . . “

The Lord in His tender mercy took him on home where his leg and eye are well and whole again. These memories are bittersweet, but that is just the way life is. The young make memories, and the old remember them.



February ushers in Ground Hog Day, and for some reason I always felt that spring was near when that day rolled around. February is a short month, but usually very muddy and sloppy. Of course when I was young, the road here was a dirt road, and when it froze and thawed again, it was a mess. We were always glad for the March wind to dry up the mud.

We need to be thankful for each day the Lord gives us—cold, snowy, rainy, muddy or sunny and warm. Remember—“This is a day, which the Lord hath made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

I have received so many beautiful cards and letters since my fall, and I wish I could answer every one of them. They are loved and cherished—and reread. Thank you, my friends, and God bless each of you.