The storm came suddenly in the night, when we were awakened by the sound of rain coming in waves across the roof. Thunder and lightning soon followed, with loud booming that resounded through the house. The rain went on and on as we drifted back off to sleep. This morning we got up to saturated ground, and the roaring of the creek. It was full to the banks and muddy.
We are so much more fortunate than the poor residents of Spencer who had their homes inundated by muddy flood water just days ago and are being saturated again. High water has never been much of a problem here, although once in awhile the creek will overflow the road for a few hours. It runs down quickly, however. The only time I can remember was when we had a cloudburst in the Belcher Holler and a thunderstorm that came down the creek at the same time.
That was the year a lot of gardens were washed away, and a trailer at the mouth of the holler was moved off its foundation. When the creek covered our bridge and got up to our front steps, I was ready to head for the hill back of our house. With each flash of lightning, we could see objects being carried downstream -- a doghouse, a basketball bobbing along on the surface and big logs. We got just a glimpse of what it would be like in a real flood.
Fortunately, the storm moved away, the rain slacked up and the creek began to abate. It was more than a little scary. We didn't lose anything, other than a doghouse. For some reason I had untied Matthew's coon dog, Mighty Samson, from his doghouse earlier that day, or he would have been washed away, also.
Living here in the hills, we have been protected for the most part from the severe weather that occurs in the flatter states. The derecho of last year that cut a massive swath through our state did affect us, but that was unusual. We had a tornado-like wind that came up our creek several years ago and left a lot of damage. My granddaughter, Jessica was just a little girl, and when the wind rocked their trailer, she ran hysterically through the house screaming, "You said the hills would protect us, Mommy! You said the hills would protect us!"
I have always felt protected by the hills. One visitor to our fair state felt threatened by the hills. She stated, "I feel like the hills are smothering me!" On the contrary, I feel a nurturing presence from our hills. I realize however, that the only real protection we have is from our Savior. Psalms 125:2 says, "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people henceforth even forever."
Even if you perish, you are still under His protection if you are one of His children; God will just take you on home. What better protection could you have than to be in His presence forever?
I have always been thankful we live in a state where there are four definite seasons. The calendar says summer is making its way to the hills, but summer weather has been with us for a while. It has seemed like dog days here lately, with high humidity clogging up the saltshakers and a film of moisture on the tile floor. Still, summer is a delightful season with lots of goodies to offer.
We had our first yellow squash from the garden today. There is nothing as good as vegetables picked fresh from the patch and hurried into the pan. There are green beans and corn on the cob, not to mention those sun-ripened tomatoes that are in the offing. There are barbecues, picnics and family reunions.
We used to look forward to the old swimming hole, with its clear, clean water. I'm afraid that's a thing of the past, but we have municipal pools and backyard pools -- but they can never compare with that old swimming hole of my childhood.
My favorite place was down on Big Laurel Creek, where the stream ran clear and cold. There were very few families who lived along the creek then, and it was isolated and woodsy. Mountain laurel grew along the banks, and in the summer, their waxy, white blossoms dipped into the water. The air was fresh and clean, carrying the scent of the big hemlocks that grew in profusion. White water honeysuckle, with its unforgettable perfume, grew in the water's edge.
It was a child's magic playground, and we spent many happy hours there with lots of cousins. Alas, there have been many changes, and I'm afraid this enchanted place is gone forever. It will always live on in our memories, though.
It was the small pleasures we enjoyed. There was a patch of wild, white strawberries that grew up in the pipe yard, and Mary Ellen and I would pick them almost every day. We noticed strawberry vines growing on the bank above the chicken house, and to my surprise, they were the same tiny, white strawberries of our childhood. I still appreciate the small pleasures!
How blest we are to live and raise our children in this beautiful state! The sun beams down today on hills that are covered with verdant green and the sweet smell of summertime surrounds us. I am content in our hills.
THE WEST VIRGINIA HILLS
By Ellen Rudell King
Oh, the West Virginia hills!
How majestic and how grand,
With their summits bathed in glory,
Like our Prince Immanuel's Land,
Is it any wonder, then,
That my heart with rapture thrills,
As I stand once more with loved ones,
On those West Virginia hills!
Oh, those hills, beautiful hills!
How I love those West Virginia hills,
If oe'r sea or land I roam,
Still I think of happy home.