Author: Ramos, Jean


Regina Bartlett recently submitted her first regular welcome column and chose to give her monthly contribution a name; “Harmony Road.” I was trying to think of something clever if I was to name my column; something that would reflect the theme of most of my articles. It turns out that mine are a pretty eclectic mix of subjects so I decided that “Succotash” would best describe my columns and let’s face it, the word “Succotash” just has a cool sound.

As a child, I lived in a very rural area with few modern conveniences. With all the relatives, neighbors and friends living at the same economic level, I was not aware that we were considered poor by the standards of the day. Many of the families in our village lacked electricity or indoor plumbing. We all had wood heaters and cook stoves and carried our water from a nearby spring. It seems that most of our life consisted of trying to survive off the land.

My mother always planted a big garden every year. We also had fruit trees. She always said that a person would never go hungry if they were willing to work. We raised chickens, beef and hogs and had a milk cow. The rivers and creeks were teeming with fish at various times of the year. Deer and other wild game were plentiful.

The fall of the year was a very busy time for us. There were wild grapes, huckleberries, hazelnuts and acorns that we gleaned from the land. Everyone in the family did their part to put food on the table. The harvesting and preserving was all completed by the time the November rains began.

Autumn has always been my favorite time of the year. I love warm clothing; soft cozy sweaters, fuzzy jackets, and fur lined boots. If you were to look in my closets, you would think I have a weakness for coats and jackets and you may be right. I think it’s because as a kid, I usually had one coat to my name. Being number four in a family of eight kids usually guaranteed that you wore hand-me-downs.

The fall of the year means that I don’t have much yard work to do. It’s the season that I do what others call their “spring cleaning.” The house is now all prepared for the holidays and visits from family and friends. It also means, I can sit back with a cup of coffee and a good book and do some “guilt free” reading. Best of all, it’s a good time to learn some new songs, practice my guitar picking and fiddling.

There are many songs written about the fall of the year. Ken Orrick’s November Rain comes to mind. There’s a song that I love to hear Armando sing called; The Leaves Mustn’t Fall. I also learned a beautiful song from Jerry Pujol called Fallen Leaves; it was done by Seldom Scene. I love the sentiment of that song which seems very fitting for the holiday season:

Fallen leaves that lie scattered on the ground
The birds and flowers that were here cannot be found
All the friends he ever had are not around
They are scattered like the leaves upon the ground

Lord let my eyes see every need of every man
Make me stop and always lend a helping hand
Then when I’m laid beneath that little grassy mound
There’ll be more friends around than leaves upon the ground

Some folks drift along through life and never thrill
To the feeling that a good deed brings until
It’s too late and they are ready to lie down
There beneath the leaves scattered on the ground

To your grave there’s no use taking any gold
You can’t use it when it’s time for hands to fold
When you leave this earth for a better home someday
The only thing you take is what you gave away

Thinking back once again to my childhood, I’m recalling an old man named Doc who lived across the field from our place. He was a very hard worker and would earn money by doing odd jobs for people, jobs like clearing berry briars, shocking hay, digging potatoes, etc. He had no relatives that we knew of so one year when it was his birthday, my mother decided to bake him a cake. We all sat around and sang Happy Birthday to him and you could tell he was very touched by the gesture. Doc wore dentures that didn’t fit him very well and would click and clatter when he talked. We all held our breath when it came time for him to blow out the candles. My mom asked him how old he was and he replied (with those loose fitting choppers), “slickty slicks.”

I’m writing this column on my birthday, the day before Thanksgiving. It’s a very special birthday indeed. Today I am “slickty slicks.” Did I refer to Doc as an old man? Well, to a kid, I guess sixty-six sounded old.

I hope you all have had a blessed Thanksgiving and will enjoy the rest of 2010. Remember, every season is a season for giving. The most meaningful gifts don’t come with a price tag; a sincere compliment, a pat on the back, a smile, and a kind word, a small deed done in secret, a wild flower, a love letter, or a song. Let’s see how creative you can be with your “gift giving,” I think you’ll find that you receive the greater blessing with the giving.

Posted:  11/28/2010

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