May departs, and June floats in with billowing garments of varied green, with rose petals in her hair and daisies at her feet. She brings warm, pleasant days and balmy evenings, brides and roses, and summer. When I see the bright-eyed daisies in bloom, I feel that warm weather is truly here to stay.
The daisies herald that school is out! Oh, that heady feeling in the knowledge that there’s no longer any homework, or early rising to catch the school bus—just warm summer days stretching out before us. I read a book in grade school called “No School Tomorrow,” and it was charming. It was all about a child’s adventures during summer vacation.
How well I remember that sense of freedom that I felt when I woke up the first day of summer vacation. The window would be open, and the scent of rambler roses drifted in on a light breeze. Songbirds would be chirping a cheerful morning song that lifted the heart in gladness, and we could hardly wait to begin our summer adventures.
We had no television set, but it was unthinkable to stay in the house when all outdoors was calling to us. The woods were waiting for us to roam, trees were calling to be climbed, the creek beckoned with its minnows, crawdads and lizards. We were never at a loss for something to do. And the playhouses—we built them all over the place. Daisies would be rife, and we used them lavishly. They made perfect fried eggs, and their crumbled centers garnished many a playhouse salad.
We picked the “beans” from the redbud trees, and served them proudly for our “make-believe” dinners. There was a seam of gray clay mud in the creek bank that furnished fabulous pies and cakes. We spent hours fashioning our elaborate creations. We had a mock wedding one time, with Janice Carole as the bride and my brother Larry as the groom. With an old filmy window curtain as a veil, she made a lovely bride.
I made a delicious wedding cake with clay mud, completely covered with pink and red rambler roses. Just as the minister (me) was ready to pronounce them “man and wife” Larry suddenly reneged and ran away. It made me so furious that I threw the wedding cake on the ground and stomped it. Thus, a lifetime of happiness was squelched right in the beginning.
The creek was our play ground as well as the woods. There was a cleft in the Big Rock that made a natural aquarium. We kept it well stocked with tadpoles, minnows, crawdads and penniwinkles. We also caught lizards and salamanders, but I drew the line at hellgrammites. I could not bear to pick up something that threatened to pinch me with both ends! After each summer rainstorm, the creek would rise and wash out our collection of marine life. It kept us busy keeping our aquarium stocked. The creek seemed bigger then, or perhaps it was because we were smaller.
As the days grew hotter, we were drawn more and more to the cool recesses of the creek. We began early in the spring begging Mom to let us go wading. Finally, she gave us permission to go wading only, with a strong admonition not to get wet all over. Invariably, we fell down in it. Then, after we were already wet, it was a shame not to take advantage of it. We usually spent two or three hours wallowing in the creek before we went to the house to tell her that we had fallen in. It was amazing how four of us at one time managed to fall in accidently, but she didn’t say too much. Perhaps she was remembering when she was a little girl herself and she and her sisters would wade Big Laurel Creek to the tune of “knee-deep, knee-deep!”
Yes, June was lightening bugs and hide and seek played in the gathering dusk. It was the piercing-sweet cry of the whippoorwill, and Mom’s voice calling us in at bedtime. It was the carefree days of youth, never fully appreciated until too late. You cannot go back and live it again.
June always brings blushing brides, along with the daisies and honeysuckles. Our oldest great-granddaughter Morgan was married in a lovely lawn wedding to Aaron Tyler Williams. And the generations go on … It’s hard to believe that I am now the matriarch of our family, with many descendants following after me. When Grandpa Andy and Grandma Leta Ellen (Mullins) O’Dell came to this same farm, they brought Great-Grandpa Hugh and Mary (Bailey) O’Dell with them. I’m sure they would be astonished at the number of descendants now!
Although many things have changed, some things remain the same. The daisies and honeysuckles still bloom, and the whippoorwills sound their clear, piercing call at dusk. People get married, babies are born, and the old ones die. It’s God’s plan. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecc. 12-13)
SERMON IN A STOCKING
By Ellen A. Jewett
The supper is over, the hearth is swept,
And in thewood-fire’s glow,
The children cluster to hear a tale
Of the time so long ago.
When Grandmamma’s hair was golden brown
And the warm blood came and went
O’er the face that could scarce been sweeter then
Than now, in its rich content.
The face is wrinkled and careworn now
And the golden hair is gray,
But the light that shone in the young girl’s eyes
Has never gone away.
And her needles catch the firelight
As in and out they go,
With the clicking music that Grandma loves,
Shaping the stocking toe.
And the waking children love it, too,
For they know the stocking song
Brings many a tale to Grandma’s mind
Which they will hear ere long.
But it brings no story of olden times
To Grandma’s heart tonight;
Only a ditty, quaint and short
Is sung by the needles bright.
“Life is a stocking,” Grandma says,
“And yours is just begun;
And I am knitting the toe of mine,
And my work is almost done.
“With merry hearts we begin to knit,
And the ribbing is almost play;
Some are gay colors and some are white,
And some are ashen gray;
But most are made of many a hue,
With many a stitch set wrong,
And many a row to be sadly ripped
Ere the whole is fair and strong.
“There are long plain spaces, without a break,
That in youth are hard to bear,
And many a weary tear is dropped
As we fashion the heel with care.
“But the saddest, happiest time is that
We court, and yet we shun,
When our Heavenly Father breaks the thread
And says that our work is done.”
The children came in to say goodnight,
With tears in their bright young eyes,
While in Grandma’s lap, with a broken thread,
The finished stocking lies.