The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Trying To Understand

By Nancy B. Collins © 1990

Issue: June, 1990

We don't seem to have time to laugh at things that go on around us that is so mixed up. After the day is over and we settle down and think back over what has gone on, maybe we should laugh at life a bit. I get a laugh about what people will do sometimes to try and fool others.

I am going to tell you what a woman did to try to get a man to write to her. She had a little article put in an almanac saying if you put a little sugar in the tomato hills before you set the plant in you will have the finest crop of tomatoes you have ever had. The man wrote back and asked her how much sugar should you put in the hill. She wrote a long letter in detail of how it should be done. The man said he had the worst crop of tomatoes he had ever had. The woman wrote back and said she hoped he had the finest crop of tomatoes he had ever had. The man did not write to her anymore. He could plainly see she was just looking for someone to write to. He was married and had a family and was not looking for anyone to write to.

In about six months, someone called and said she was the woman the man wrote about putting sugar in his tomato hills. The man's wife told her the man could not come to the phone as he had passed away about 2 weeks back, which was true. I got a laugh out of the lengths she went to trying to get a man, not knowing what she was doing.

In my childhood days, I remember a man came into our country when we lived near Meadows of Dan, Virginia. Seems that he came from Richmond. He was sent by the state to tell people how to have better gardens. He was a fine looking dude, seemed too polished with some education. One day he was to speak at the courthouse.

The first thing he said was people had to prepare in the fall of the year to have a good garden in the spring. He said while the weather was still dry, they should go into the pastures and gather up all of the meadow muffins and put them in a dry place so the strength would not get out of them before spring. The farmers were dumfounded for a little while. One man finally got up the nerve to ask what is meadow muffins. The man said, "You know, cow litter." He was so polished he did not want to say manure, as he thought it might not be nice to say in a crowd. When he got through speaking, he gave the people his address and said if they had any questions, please write him. One woman wrote him and asked him to send the receipt [recipe) on how to make the meadow muffins. He finally, had to tell her that the cows made them. He said he was sorry he could not tell her how.

In a way, the same thing is happening to us today. Important literature we should know about such as insurance policies, Medicare, social security have abbreviated words and language that makes them hard to understand. This is not one of the things a senior citizen can laugh about! When I look back, it seems that things are not much different than they were when I was a child. People still try to get by without putting much effort about anything, only we seem to have more to deal with than our parents had then.

Back in my childhood days, I remember we had so little to go on. Some times were mighty hard. Most of the country people were the same way.

There was a big family of us children. Mom said she hoped to take us to Santa Claus's house someday. We would say, "When?" and she would say, "Soon, I hope." Every year seemed harder and harder for Mom and Dad to make a living for us in that mountain country. Things happened very quickly. The old house we lived in caught on fire in the attic. They managed to put the fire out, but we had to build such a large fire in the fireplace to keep the house any ways warm. They were afraid to stay on there, so we moved to Danville, Virginia. Most of the family got some kind of work to do. We had it much better. One day we were eating dinner and I said to Mom, "Is this where Santa Claus lives?" She said, "What do you think?" I said, "I believe it is." I was old enough to know more about Santa, but she said, "If you believe it, then I guess it is."

We missed the beautiful snows and waterfalls. We missed going into the woods and looking for things to make our Christmas. We never lost touch with the mountains and I would not take anything for my life in the mountains when I was a child. When I look back on the things I lived through I laugh and cry and try to understand. There have been times that I have had to lay everything down and ask God to help me because things were so hard to do and understand. I had a good husband and two fine daughters. One great thing in life is to have been respected by your family. I can look back and laugh a bit, and wonder if anyone would have missed me if I had not been born.