Echo From the Hills – June 18th, 2014
Last night I wandered around in the halls of yesterday, with shadowy, long-ago ancestors floating around me and forgotten names and dates running through my mind. I guess I could blame Joshua, my grandson who has taken on the task of researching his family tree. I had neglected to tell him that this hobby is something that will captivate you, and make you a slave to old-time census records and documents yellowed with age.
Several years ago, I started to pursue this fascinating project, and soon my husband was complaining that the breakfast bar and dining room table was so cluttered with mountains of papers and documents that he couldn’t find a place to eat. When I began my writing career (so-called!) this project got shoved in the background and almost forgotten. I began digging out the old records and the genealogy bug almost bit me again. Who else has an ancestor named “Thankful Louella?”
These long-dead people are just pen and ink on paper now, but once they were flesh and blood people who lived, loved, cried, laughed and had families. I told Josh this morning that I would like to go back in time and mingle with these people and learn their lifetime stories. Genealogy can give the dry facts, but there is so much more we will never know. A notation on one of Criss’ ancestors reads, “Killed by a rebel.” What a story must be behind this!
Meanwhile, we are making our own family history for future generations. It’s hard to imagine that in just a matter of time, we will be just a name on a genealogy list. Of course our grandchildren will remember us, and some of the great-grandchildren possibly could, but after that, later generations might be told that they had an ancestor who was a little weird and liked to write.
It is a wonderful thing to know that our names are written down in another book. In Malachi 3:16, it reads, “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. Verse 17, “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”
When the Apostle Paul was nearing his own death, he wrote in ll Timothy 4:6-8 these words, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing.” Earth’s records will perish, but the Book of Life shall endure forever.
Although it is not summer yet on the calendar, summer weather steams into our hills bringing sticky, humid days and a profusion of summer wildflowers. Day lilies march up and down the highways and byways, hailing summers’ return with a toss of their orange heads. The black-eyes Susans’ stare brazenly at each passer-by, while the frothy blooms of the elderberry bush promise black fruit to come. Summer flowers are bolder in color and take the place of springtime’s more delicate blossoms.
Our gardens are beginning to produce the fresh vegetables that we eagerly look forward to each year. We have had a mess of tiny new potatoes, creamed with milk and butter, and eaten with a bowl of fresh lettuce laced with green onions. The green beans are putting out vines, and yellow squash is almost ready to harvest. Summertime eating in the country cannot be surpassed!
Wild food promises to be abundant in the hills this summer. The blackberries were heavy with bloom, and now some of the green berries are turning red. Wild raspberry vines are putting forth green berries, and the elderberry crop looks promising. Our hills are rich in these delicious wild foods which are ours for the gathering.
Lamb’s-quarter greens are coming up in abundance now, with their mealy, whitish underside. They remind me of spinach, and are full of vitamins. They don’t have to be parboiled, but can be put directly in a heavy skillet with the water that clings to them after washing. Put on a heavy lid, and they will cook in just a few minutes. They are very good.
I found a recipe for these greens that sounds delicious. Here it is:
LAMB’S-QUARTER IN SOUR CREAM SAUCE
(Lamb’s-quarter is one of the mildest of wild greens; the sour cream in this recipe makes just the right piquant statement.)
3 cups of lambs-quarter greens, washed and drained
¼ cup water
1 cup dairy sour cream
¼ cup milk
2 T. dry white wine (optional)
Wild chives, diced (optional)
Steam greens until just tender; drain well. Meanwhile, gently heat sour cream and milk; add wine (if used) after taking the sauce off the heat. Pour over greens and top with a garnish of chopped chives. I am anxious to try this recipe as soon as I gather the greens.
I really relish day lily buds—those flaming orange flowers that grow abundantly along roadsides and highways. The opened flower can also be used when dipped in an egg batter and fried in hot oil. I favor the unopened buds, simply steamed in a little water and drained, and then seasoned with salt, pepper and butter. They remind me somewhat of tender green beans. I learned the hard way that it is better not to eat too much of them.
There are so many wild foods that I want to try. Catbrier tips, anyone? These are also known as green briers, but dressed up with orange sauce sounds so appealing. My daughter-in-law Jennifer told me once that just because these things are edible doesn’t mean that you have to eat them! But I think—so much good food; so little time!
As kids, we roamed all over the hills and fields, sampling almost everything within our reach. We ate mountain tea leaves and the red berries, chewed sweet birch bark, nibbled on tender sassafras shoots and spicewood twigs. I can’t remember eating anything that hurt us.
School is out for young folks—summer and the hills are waiting!