WEST VIRGINIA AUTUMN
By Chuck Reed
Sing a song of autumn;
Its Time is in the air
Nature’s coat is changing
there’s Color everywhere.
The Hills of West Virginia
puts on a painted dress
Of multi-colored shades;
meant only to impress.
Mountain leaves now shimmer
with beauty and with grace
Grapevines drape their garlands
like purple woven lace.
A miner’s favorite rocking chair;
brings long awaited rest
From all the pick and shovel work;
that puts his hands to test.
A Father’s Summer garden tools
brings Mother’s Autumn tasty spoils
With Apple cobbler’s spicy bliss
Mountaineers are born in this.
Smoking grills are everywhere
and football’s finally here
One thing that we must never forget
It’s good to be a Mountaineer.

The ghostly face of Hallowe’en is peeping around the corner of the house tonight, as the mob of little ghouls and vampires go from house to house with their goody bags. Last week’s column brought some interesting responses from readers. My friend Edna confided of how she had trouble going under a railroad trestle underpass. Seems as if she watched a movie when she was seven or eight years old, which featured a lady turning into a black panther and jumping off the top of a railroad trestle.

Marietta Grass of Milton told a story more serious. She related, “As we would sit on the front porch on cool autumn evenings, we always watched Aunt Tina walk down the road past our house. Truth was, she had died young with cancer in the ‘20’s, leaving behind six children. There were few cars then, back in the 30’s and 40’s, but when one would go by, the headlights showed nothing on the road.

Also, at the end of the cornfield on a smoggy night, light came up and danced across the bottom going up and crossing the swinging bridge. Older folks claimed this was spirits, but it has been rationalized that gas from underground caused the dancing fires that bounced and danced.

That reminds me of the “Ha’nted Lick” up Hickory Knob that was reputed to have strange sounds and weird talk that came from the Lick. Grandma O’Dell came from that area, and she claimed to have heard conversation coming from there. Daddy told us that there was gas that emanated from that spot, and it made strange fire and babbling sounds.

Be that as it may, we walked up there once when we were camping, and all we found was a water hole where deer came to drink. There were hundreds of animal tracks, so perhaps the deer found minerals that they needed. It was peaceful and quiet, and not a place to be feared. As I think about it, I can’t remember a scary place that we shunned.

I do remember one Memorial Day, or rather night, when I decided to take a bouquet of flowers to put on Grandma’s grave. I think I was just trying to prove my bravery, but carried the flowers up the hill to the cemetery. It was a dark and moonless night, but I opened the big iron gate and put the flowers on her grave. Just then, the wind caught the gate and it made a loud creaking noise. I came off the hill much faster than I had climbed it!

We can expect much cooler weather than that which we have enjoyed this autumn. When our little Jack Russell puppy, Polly, got out of bed this morning and went to the door to go out and use the bathroom, the cold air hit her and she refused. I had to force her out! She will be a year old Monday, and has been a loving animal.

Criss got her for me, but she adores him. She is on his heels every step he takes, and spends her time with him in the shop. If he goes out and leaves her behind, she mourns and cries so pitifully that I’m tempted to let her out. Having a pet, especially as a person gets older, is such a comfort. People have asked me about Rosalie, the Jack Russell puppy that I had. I’m so sorry to tell you that son Andy backed over her. He cried harder than I did.

That is one of the chances that you take in having a pet, is losing them. I still grieve over Minnie, who loved me as one of my own children. We have had many pets of different varieties, but Cousin Bobby has had a species that we have never had. I remember the skunk he had in Michigan, that I think was named Cheeto. What was unusual about this pet was he never had his scent bag removed. He was very mannerly, as were the rest of his skunk pets. He wrote me about Shadrack, which never had the personality that B. O. (a former pet skunk) had.

Shadrack’s mother was the victim of traffic, and her babies were found in a back lot behind a service station. He had nearly starved to death, and was gentle but never sought our attention. He was housebroken and occupied the half bath. He loved to bluff Penny, a gentle and loving dog who slept on a vinyl covered couch.

Shadrack would pass under Penny’s belly but he never sprayed her. He must have been making a statement concerning who exactly was territorial boss. Shadrack would then return to his bed, while Penny sought safety on the couch. Life must have been busy with these two pets.

We have had at least one dog, and usually more, ever since we married almost 63 years ago. I am glad that God created animals when he made the earth, and gave us an affection for them. Jesus himself said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God.” (Luke 12-6) If God cares for the little sparrows, should we not care for His animals?

Yes, we do grieve and mourn when we lose one of our pets. A dog or a cat can become like one of the family. Their life span is so much shorter than ours, and we can expect them to die before we do. I am reminded of the old saying, “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have to have love at all.”