The last day of April dawned bright and sunny. Songbirds were warbling merrily; the purple lilac's heavy blossoms wafted a heavenly scent across the yard, and vied with the lavender azalea bush for beauty. It was a perfect spring day to be enjoyed to the fullest.
Daughter Patty called and suggested that we clean the cellar on such a fine day. By the time she got up to our house, I had another idea. "I would love to go up Hick's Holler," I suggested. It is not far from our house, and has always been one of my favorite places. I hadn't been there for a long time, due to my numerous physical problems.
Criss wasn't here (he always puts a damper on my plans, saying I'm not able) so Patty harnessed up the 4-wheeler (RV) and we piled on -- three little girls, Patty, Minnie Dog, and me. Fortunately, Criss had built a dog crate on the front of the vehicle, and two little girls rode there. Minnie Dog was squeezed between Patty and me, and one little girl hung on behind.
Hick's Holler has always been a magical place. As soon as we skirted the meadow, we entered a shaded glade that was far removed from everyday living. At one time there was a house and a family lived there, but even the old chimney is obliterated. It is a paradise of wild flowers, and numerous woodsy plants thrive there. Roscoe, our squirrel dog, had followed us and immediately treed a squirrel. Minnie was so excited that she ran uphill and down, while the little girls were fascinated by all the wildflowers. They found a dry land terrapin (which we always called a "torpin," and insisted on bringing it home.
Spring beauties were wide spread, their tiny pink flowers scattered all over the ground. This is also locally called "tanglefoot" and makes excellent early greens. Several varieties of violets grew in clumps along the little branch, which flowed down the holler-long-spurred, pale blue ones, the common blue (though I wonder why it is called "common" -- they are beautiful.) There were the delicate white violets with their exquisite perfume, and the downy yellow ones.
This woodsy little glade was crammed full of nature's beauty. Star chickweed, wood anemones (or windflowers, so-called because they tremble in the slightest breeze) and common fleabane flaunts its daisy-like flowers. Golden ragwort is rampant, not only here, but all over the meadows. It was a serene, quiet place; the silence broken only by bird song and the chatter of little girls.
I could have stayed there longer, but the girls got restless -- Lainee was "thusty;" Maddy was tired and wanted to go home. She kept calling for "Pookey" -- which is what the girls call Patty. Only Adrianna was supremely content. She announced, "The woods are my home!"
Patty found a few morels while I picked a mess of "wood" lettuce. I'm sure it has another name, but that's what Mom always called it. I bypassed the tanglefoot -- those spring beauty flowers were too pretty to uproot. I brought the wood lettuce home and wilted it with hot bacon grease and vinegar -- it was rollickin'!
Of course the cellar sat there reproachfully, but when it comes to decision to clean or forage in the woods, it's no contest. This is such a green and growing time, it's a shame not to take advantage of it. The fiddlehead ferns are already too big to harvest, and the redbud flowers are fading. These little flowers are quite tasty sprinkled on a salad. It was a fruitful day. And -- the girls found two more box turtles, which they brought home.
Poppaw will be so happy!
We've gotten a lot of good feedback from previous articles, and I need to share some of them. Gordon Parker of Elkview writes that when they lived in Roane County, he helped his mother gather dandelion greens. Sometimes she mixed them with chopped green onions and wilted them with bacon grease. The rest of the menu consisted of pinto beans, fried potatoes and corn bread. He added "I miss that!"