"The charm of the goldenrod" is spreading across our hills, reflecting the rays of the early autumn sun and enticing the leaves to turn yellow also. Actually, there are 29 species of goldenrod in our state and have an undeserved reputation for triggering allergies among the susceptible. The irritating symptoms are really caused by ragweed, whose pollen is abundant when goldenrod is in flower.
My favorite is the sweet goldenrod, whose crushed leaves give off a licorice scent. I have read that tea can be made from these leaves, but I have never tried it. Many fall flowers are now appearing on roadsides and meadows. Coreopsis blooms along the ditch line beside the highway, showy masses of golden yellow flowers that thrive in moist ditches.
It is the beginning of the most beautiful season in our hills in my opinion. When the leaves are fully colored, and the season of gold begins, my heart sings. I have stated that when my time comes to leave this earth, I'd like to go in October. I could go up in a blaze of glory!
This past weekend was perfect for the many events that were scheduled. The Golden Delicious Apple Festival was a huge success, with folks coming from surrounding areas as well as many different states. It is sort of a homecoming for Clay Countians who have moved to different parts of the country, and are anxious to visit old friends and tie the bonds of friendship a little tighter.
There were several high school reunions planned during this time, and my own 60-year reunion was held Sunday. It was heartwarming to see the ones we graduated with so many years ago; in fact, we attended school for 12 years with some of them. I will have to say, time has made a change!
I was sitting in a folding camp chair at the Festival, when I noticed an older (??) lady making her way toward me. She was a stranger, and sure enough she was headed right at me. When she got closer, she braced her hands on the arms of my chair and looked me right in the eye. (I still didn't recognize her.) About that time the leg of my chair collapsed and she fell in my lap.
My grandson-in-law, Doug was sitting beside me and he jumped up and pulled the strange lady to her feet. Then he untangled me and pulled me up. When we were face to face, I screamed, "Mary Frances!" Yes, it was one of my classmates that I hadn't seen for many years. We had a giggly reunion!
We also had our annual Samples family reunion, which was a sweet and warm affair. The aunts and uncles are all gone, but cousins that grew up together (and were almost like brothers and sisters) had a wonderful time reminiscing and reliving old times. We are the present generation who will step off the "stage of action" next. It is a sobering thought. Cousin Roy Grose, at 90 years of age, is the oldest living grandchild of Abner Jehu (Grandpa Hooge) and Laura Alice Dodd Samples. Cousin Virginia (Ginny) Boggs is next at 88.
We had a visitor from Charlottesville, Va., (our "adopted" son Scott Bazzarre) who commented on the fact that reunions seem so important to us. Well, I think that those folks who are born and raised in the hills can't get the country out of their blood. They have to come home ever so often to reaffirm their roots and renew their kinship with the hills.
Mom used to say that if you ever drank cold water out of one of these mountain springs, you would always come back for more. Maybe there are some who moved away and never looked back, but the majority of folks that I have talked to always express a longing for the hills of home.
I am one who never left. I have lived most of my 77 years right here in the same spot where I grew up. If God wills, I will be here the rest of my life.