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Celebrating beautiful days, thinking of blessings

By Peggy Walker, R.D.

Today’s Special

Thank you, Veterans, for serving, sacrificing and for living with the hardships you’ve endured.  American Veterans… from today back to 1776 made America great.  You have never let us down and we are forever indebted.

DW and I have walked the freedom trail in Boston. We walked through the front door of Paul Revere’s house and past the church where his midnight ride began, and stood in awe of his lasting presence at his grave site.  And as many Americans have, we’ve seen Freedom Hall in Philadelphia, gazed upon the Liberty Bell and respected Betsy Ross’ Old Glory.

Our nation’s freedom was hard fought for by thousands of brave men and women so on this day I’m honored to say thank you. You have earned an indelible place in our nation’s history and set America on the course of greatness.  God bless America and thank you for the freedoms we all hold dear, as this “experiment in democracy” continues.

It’s also time to celebrate a very lovely fall.  We could not have custom ordered any better weather for the first two weeks of November!  Even though 80-degree weather in November brings a few quandaries, like how to dress, I’m not complaining.

For our families’ fall retreat, I chose layers and rubber boots. Back in October we had plans for a fun free-wheeling day down in Yalobusha County, but a late season hurricane pushed our gathering into November.  And we were glad it did. Saturday was absolutely perfect.  We loaded up the kiddos, coolers, our rides and headed down into Mississippi.  DW’s brother met us there, not one to be left out of a good time “on the place.”

We spent the morning riding the trails while taking turns holding Uncle Benny’s new lab puppy.  It was a very merry time.  I rode with Benny, usually with one or two grandchildren between us and a wiggly black puppy.  He told family stories of how his grandparents farmed the rich bottomland around Tillatoba Creek with 125 mules, rotating half at a time. Imagine the upkeep of that many mules and how they managed to provide for a family of 9 on only $169 a month.  Neither his father or grandfather served in the military because they were farmers, but they worked hard to keep everyone fed and America’s agricultural economy strong.

With Zachary leading the way, we headed into the woods. We saw beaver dams and the pools their lodges created. Puppy Otis instinctively jumped right in as the ducks flew.  More trails and deer sightings as our meandering continued. The little girls had been worried about bears and I had been concerned about snakes, but we saw neither, thankfully. And as expected we began to shed our layers as the day heated up.

We paused at the top of a levee where a lake was created back in the sixties to help control flooding in the Delta, one of our favorite sights.  Benny put it in 4-wheel drive and drove us right on up the steep incline as he has done hundreds of times before but this time with the grands and me holding on to each other and the puppy.  The others walked up the levee to enjoy the view of Chestnut Lake and the little ones enjoyed a good grassy roll back down…memories made.

James rode with DW as he narrated and pointed out places along the trails.  James was keenly interested in the Walker family history on his first trip down there. Laura and Mack (when he wasn’t holding the puppy) rode along on Nicholas’ 4-wheeler. Mack’s eyes opened wide when it looked like they were stuck with tires spinning and mud flying, but that’s part of the fun. Laura knew what to do and got them out. Nicholas had taught her well.

One lone sandstone chimney and the outline of the stone foundation are all that’s left of the original house.  DW and Benny pointed out the indention where the root cellar was and Zachary and I searched for moss covered sandstones to take home.

In the spring hundreds of daffodils bloom around this old home they remembered.  All along the way Zachary identified the fall foliage…. native witch hazel which was blooming, hackberry trees (wild blueberry), beech trees, ancient oaks, blazing yellow hickory trees…the fall colors were as glorious as the sun was bright.

For lunch James roasted hot dogs and Kristine made s’mores as the kiddos played, needing a break to stretch and burn up some energy. And, I, being the grandmother, taught the little girls how to use the natural “facilities” for a potty break, which they had never done before.  What an educational day we had in the woods.

I pushed off my rubber boots and slid my sweaty feet into my waiting flip flops as we loaded up and departed for our homes…hot, tired, dusty, smelling like a puppy but satisfied. The children and Otis didn’t make it back to the main road before falling asleep, I think I even snoozed a little but it was sweet sleep and the end to a fun, family day. I was thankful for these dear people, the land and its history, the beautiful autumn day and for those I never knew who had made this day possible for us to enjoy.

Next week I owe you double the recipes for more gifts from the kitchen!