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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Brrrrrr--Bolt the Door and Stoke the Fire

Brrrrrr...February is roaring loudly this evening; can anyone in the South and mid-Atlantic say EL NINO? We have been under a Winter Weather Advisory since last evening, but have had very little snow until the last hour or so. Late this afternoon the Weather Service issued a Blizzard Warning, forcasting 4-8 more inches of snow tonight across our area, with up to a foot in some places and deeper drifts at higher elevations (our house is at 3000 ft). The snow predictions are not so bad in and of themselves, but coupled with 60mph winds (with stronger gusts) and current 18 degree temperatures falling even lower into the night, this will be a good evening to stay close to the home fires. My husband will not fare so well; he will be out all night again this evening trying to keep the roads open and safe for those who need to travel, for whatever reason. May all reach their own home fires safe and sound, according to His will.

This winter reminds me of the ones we had when I was a kid; reallllly cold and snowy. For the past several years we haven't had winter as I remember it. When I was growing up we always had hams and bacon in the smokehouse curing under crusty layers of sugar and salt. The weather was cold enough so there was no worry about them spoiling; the only problem was wading through the snow to slice off a chunk of tender pink juicy melt-in-your-mouth ham for supper (in Appalachia we have supper in the evening and dinner at noon). In the barn loft in a nest of loose hay snuggled between walls of hefty bales were apples gathered in the fall from the Sheep Nose apple tree in the garden; covered with a thick layer of hay, they remained firm and juicy until late spring, by which time we had usually eaten every last one. Under the house, in a "tater hole" dug waist deep and lined with fresh hay, the previous seasons potatoes lay in their own bed of hay underneath a covering of worn quilts and blankets that had seen their better days. A few feet away jar after jar of fruits, vegetables, jams, jellies, juices, pickles and relishes stood six deep on the "can room" shelves ready to warm us from the inside out. The wood shed had been filled to the rafters with poplar "kindling" and heavy hardwood chunks of maple, oak and hickory; the corn crib had plenty of grain for the animals and the best ears of "Hickory Cane" had been dried ready to shell during cold winter evenings. I can still feel and hear the kernels sifting through my fingers. To break the monotony of the work Mom and Dad played a guessing game called "Hully Gull" with us; the person who was "it" held a few kernels of corn in their closed hands shaking them while asking "Hully Gull, a handful, how many?" The person who was closest to the right number of kernels became it. If we were really fortunate, Dad would wash some kernels and make "parched corn" by placing them in a pan of hot bacon grease and stirring them until they swelled up nice, round and toasty. They tasted about like half-popped popcorn (which we also grew sometimes). A room full of hands made short work of shelling a couple of sacks of hard white kernels which went to the mill to return a couple of days later, minus the miller's toll, as fresh-ground cornmeal. This meal, unlike the store bought variety, had to be sifted to remove the chaff and needed leavening added to it when it was time to bake a pone of cornbread (which NEVER contained sugar or egg, and was broken not cut). No matter how cold and snowy I remember it being outside, I never recall being cold. Between the wood heater and cookstove, and the stores of food "put up" from the summer; we were always warm and cozy inside.


  1. HI....good to hear from you on my blog! Interesting way to communicate isn't it. I will see Amber on Saturday! It's been a long time.
    I remember snow in NY where I grew up and playing, playing ....Boone got a blizzard today! Keep warm. Hope your year has gone well. Have to read more to see!

  2. Can't wait to read this to the boys in the morning at breakfast!


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