April has come to our Clay County Hills,
Bringing wildflowers and bright daffodils
Dandelions like gold polka dots
Brighten the lawn and each grassy spot.
Apple blossoms are showing pink,
Robin, wren and bobolink
Echo across our peaceful hills,
And just at dusk sing the whippoorwills.
Just like the flowers in springtime that bloom,
Jesus one day arose from the tomb
Leaving for us a promise so true,
Someday we’ll live on the earth made new.
Springtime is proving, yes, there is a God
Bringing new life to the earthly sod.
A hope that is reaching beyond the grave,
Our risen Lord is ready to save.
So as the flowers we’ll rise from clay
To live with Jesus forever and aye.
Never again to suffer nor die
We’ll live with Jesus someday by and by.
So–April keep spreading your beauty around,
Beautiful flowers burst forth from the ground.
Yet all this beauty can never compare
With the Heavenly home with Jesus to share.
By Eva Samples King
My Aunt Eva was an accomplished poet and writer, and her essays about “Harmony Hills” were printed for years in the county paper, “The Clay County Free Press”. I like to think that her blood runs in my veins.
April is spreading her glory once again in our hills. Redbud is blooming in masses of pink flowers, brightening the countryside in showy blooms. Like many of our spring offerings, redbud is not only a beautiful tree but offers wild food. The flowers can be sprinkled in a salad, and the “beans” or pods can be used in stir fries. They must be harvested when quite tender, or will be unpalatable. In fact, I fixed some one time that were past their prime, and they tasted like a mouthful of hay.
This showy tree is also called “Judas-tree” because of an old legend that Judas Iscariot (who betrayed Jesus) hanged himself on the related tree of western Asia and southern Europe, after which the white flowers turned red with shame or blood.
Here is a recipe using redbud pods, which can also be incorporated into a stir fry dish using other vegetables.
2 cups young seedpods, washed and well drained
1 clove wild garlic, sliced
¼ cup oil
Soy sauce to taste
Stir-fry seedpods and garlic in hot oil for ten minutes, until they begin to brown just lightly. Sprinkle with as much soy sauce as you like; serve over brown rice. Goes well with fish.
We had our first ramp dinner yesterday and it was lovely. Ramps (or wild leeks) are a longed-for spring delicacy in our home and we relish them. Some folks despise them, and it is a certainty that you either love them or hate them. Although their reputation is smelly, as a matter of fact these onion-like plants are surprisingly mild. Although I have lots of ramp recipes, we like them simply cooked with bacon and eggs. My father loved a ramp and cheese sandwich, but when eaten raw, they are pretty loud.
Spring is such a fruitful time in the mountains, with wild morels now being spotted. So far, the early black ones are the ones we have found, with the larger yellow ones yet to appear. Whether you call them “muggles” or “Molly Moochers” or even “merkles” as we do, they are one of the most sought after wild food in our hills. They are simply delicious when called by any name.
Many housewives are embarking upon another spring chore–spring cleaning. There seems to be a built-in urge to clean out the winter nest and welcome warm weather. Our cleaning chores have been simplified by modern conveniences and better cleaning aids, yet it all boils down to the same thing–rout out dirt!
I like to wait until it is warm enough to throw open the doors and windows, and let clean, fresh air circulate through the house. I remember the spring cleaning routine when I was growing up. Although our old house was an unpainted Jenny Lind affair, and our furnishings were shabby and meager, we still scoured and scrubbed what we had.
We carried rugs outside and hung them on the clothesline, where we beat them with a broom. Curtains were washed and starched stiff, and hung on curtain stretchers by many a punctured finger. Windows were washed, and sometimes new wall paper was hung on the walls. (Always Wallrite with that grey background and green ivy print or sometimes red poppies.) Mom scrubbed the old matched flooring floors with lye water, until they turned white. The crowning touch was a new oilcloth for the table. It all smelled so clean.
I was re-reading an old letter that I received some years ago from an old friend, Carolyn Knight of Marlinton. She was recounting the spring cleaning of her youth when they heated with wood. She wrote, “With spring, we took the iron cookware (skillets, corn pone pans, etc., out and put them in the furnace. I fished them out and cooled them down on the basement floor. Then we washed, dried, and oiled them. Then re-cured them with light oil in a warm oven. Only then was the furnace turned off for the summer.
“The carpets were dragged out, dust beat out of them, and cleaned with soap and water. Then they were left to dry in the sun. The old wheat straw (used as rug pads) was swept up, the floor mopped, and the wood was oiled good and allowed to dry. Remembering the curtain stretchers make my fingers hurt! The chairs with cane seats and backs were scrubbed and put in the sun to dry and tighten. Every cabinet and drawer were emptied and washed–everything in there was cleaned; new paper put in and restocked.
“I don’t remember anything being thrown out. Old worn wash cloths were cut up and sewn together with a cotton cover for new potholders. Even slivers of soap were put into a coffee can, and when there was enough they were melted down into other bars. I always liked the many-colored bars.
“Every day was work. You knew the season by the work, but you had a feeling of accomplishment. I remember sitting on great-grandmother’s porch swing on a summer night, watching the stars and fireflies. You could hear the sounds from the neighbor’s houses–swings squeaking, voices murmuring, radio shows, music played–that feeling of soul-deep contentment. Just Great-gram and I wrapped in warm contentment.”
This is something to think about while doing your spring cleaning.