Reflecting on the Past

Good morning from the mountains of Kentucky! I hope your day is off to a great start! The weather is beautiful here in the mountains this morning. Temperatures were in the mid-fifties when I awoke this morning. Mornings like these transport me back to mornings that I cherish. Cool September mornings reminds me of my childhood in the mountains. I loved early cool mornings and porch sitting with my mom or grandmother. We called our grandmother, Mamaw. She and Papaw were a huge part of all of our lives, and our small community.

Enjoying a good book on a cool September morning.

While porch sitting this morning, I began to think about days of my youth. I thought of how when we were children the days seemed to last forever. Now as an adult days often don’t feel long enough to get everything on out to do list done. Maybe we’re rushing life instead of appreciating it. Have you noticed fall holiday decorations come out in the stores before the hot days of August have passed? What are you supposed to do? Do we enjoy days by the pool, a summer walk, or are we supposed bypass August and begin decorating with pumpkins?

Maybe, it’s that we don’t take time to cherish the moments in the day. Maybe we’re overlooking the smaller things that amazed us as kids. A school of minnows swimming in the creek, a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter, or the amazing web a spider so cleverly wove. Maybe, we spend too much time on social media wishing our lives were like others, or worrying too much about things we can’t fix anyway. Before we know it, we’ve been robbed of precious hours of our day worrying and wondering, instead of appreciating the simple things in our life. Simple things can be a flower bloom, a gentle breeze, a good book, an afternoon of fishing, or spending time with grandkids canning and preserving, and teaching them about family traditions.

Teaching even the youngest grandchildren about gardening.

As a young girl growing up in the mountains, September days were filled with days of canning the final vegetables from the garden. It was a time to can and preserve the final lingering tomatoes and peppers, dry the last of the beans that were left clinging to the fences, and a time of preparation, work, and family. This was and still is a time of a mixed emotions; happy and grateful for the bounty of our hard work, and also sad that the fresh vegetables will soon be gone. It’s always a time of reflection for me. Cool foggy September mornings takes me back to my youth in the mountains of Kentucky when life was simple, hard, yet a life filled with love, family, and respect.

Fog rising above the mountains.

I remember rising early with excitement to sit on the porch of Mamaw’s store with her. The air was cool, fog lingered near the tops of the mountains, and relatives were busy getting their mornings started. Papaw was usually in the garden, mommy would be working in our garden or the flowers. Customers walked to Mamaw’s store to spend a few dollars or sometimes just to share conversations or news they had to share. Neighbors passed always waving or greeting us with a howdy, hello, or good morning. All the while, we worked for hours stringing the last of the garden green beans on heavy quilting thread. The long strings of beans were then hung on the front store porch from old rusty nails near the ceiling of the porch. They hung there to dry during the later days of summer. Once the beans were dry, they were removed from the string and placed in a plastic container and stored in the old deep freeze that stood in the back of the store. They were later rehydrated and cooked as what we referred to as, shuck beans. I remember Mamaw cooking them with a piece of pork and plenty of seasonings. They were delicious served with potatoes and cornbread.

Mamaw, my aunts, and my mom were always planning ahead for cold days of winter when traveling to a grocery store was not as common as it is today. Life in the mountains in the sixties and early seventies was a simple time devoid of social media, television drama, opinionated media, and especially devoid of a lazy society. We were raised hard, but raised with pride, good work ethics, and raised to know about Jesus. Life was simple, but yet life was happy and we knew how to plan ahead for a rainy day.

Mamaw’s pickled green tomato recipe still alive today.

Life in the mountains has changed since I was a little girl, let’s face it life as we all know it has changed a lot in the past three years. However, we still have a choice to enjoy the simple things in life, take time to stop and smell the roses, rise early to greet the day, savor family time, work hard, love deeply, forgive others, help a friend or neighbor, and to plan ahead for our rainy days. With the many recent changes in our world, I am even more determined to hold on to traditions of the past. They were good traditions filled with checking on neighbors, baking a friend a cake, checking on the elderly, taking time to listen to their stories of the past, attending church on Sundays, praying for others, taking pride in our homes, working, and loving others, while also planning ahead through canning and preserving.

Fresh canned tomato juice from our garden tomatoes.

There’s something rewarding about planting seeds, watering them, watching them sprout from tiny sprout into a beautiful plant filled with a rainbow of vegetables. It’s even better to set a table for your family that is spread with a meal that was 90 percent grown on your land with love of your own labor. Yes, planning ahead for a rainy day was a tradition that I enjoy still carrying on. I also enjoy sharing with our elderly neighbors who seem to ever so quickly be leaving this life for their eternal home.

I’ve thought much about that dying generation of elderly grandmothers and grandfathers a lot lately. I miss my grandmother even more when I think of all the memories that we made stringing beans and also canning them. I miss the days of porch sitting in the afternoons, listening to my relatives stories of days gone by, laughing at their funny tales and also quivering a little from the scary stories. I miss star gazing at night with my cousins in the backyard, playing red-light, green-light in the lane beside Mamaw’s store, catching crawdads in the creek, hearing my relatives praying at night before they turned in for the night, and miss those that have passed on.

Yes, cool September mornings brings back a flood of memories. I recall happy memories, sad memories, and memories of a time when the simple things in life, hard work, our neighbors, and self was appreciated. A time when people took time to love deeply, enjoy the fun times and work through the hard times without blaming others. When respect was taught, caring for elderly neighbors was just what we did, and days that families planned and worked together planting, tending, harvesting, preserving, and enjoying the time together listening to stories of days gone by, while carrying on a mountain tradition.

Three generations picking poke salad.

After a beautiful morning of emotional reflection, quiet time of prayer, finishing a chapter in the book I’m reading… I’m off to work on canning tomatoes today. I hope you have enjoyed my reflective ramblings this morning. Have a safe and wonderful holiday weekend. For now, God bless from the mountains of Kentucky.

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