It’s difficult to really enjoy summer, July and August, when you are longing for autumn.
I am counting on history repeating itself and with the first week of September we will enjoy “harvest season.” Surprise lilies (also known as amarillas) have come and gone, moon flowers opening, golden rod soon to be history.
In McDonald County we have so much for which to be grateful. A neighbor cut down a huge sycamore in order that he could have a better view of our branch of Big Sugar. My grief at the loss of that beautiful tree was tempered when two days in a row I startled does and fawns that had sought shelter in the downed limbs.
“River” is low this summer, lower than it has been in my lifetime. I look forward, also, to the autumn rains, sometimes lasting a week or more, cleaning out the Big Sugar bed, leaving clean water, so clean that even from far above I can see the river bed.
When the creek began to shrink, it left islands, a pair of geese created their nest and it was there they hatched their gosling, what a gift they shared, to be able to witness that miracle. Now the deer. Red bud is dropping their seeds, dogwood, sassafras and sumac are changing into their autumn wardrobe.
Nights are a wonder behold as the mating owls share their love songs and the lightning bugs fade away.
The carport, attached to my home, has a tin roof and the walnut tree shading it is dropping walnuts that startle and sound like fireworks. One more indication that summer will end soon. My pecan trees and walnut trees are loaded this time of year.
Euell Gibbons, in “Stalking the Wild Asparagus” informs me that “The common elderberry, known to botanists as sambucus canadensis, is one of the most abundant, most useful, most healthful and yet most neglected of our native wild fruits. The white flowers of June and July “are followed by great umbels of purple-black berries which weigh down the stems and are just asking to be snapped off and dropped into a pail. Locate your foraging ground while the attractive bloom makes the plant conspicuous, then return in August or early September to harvest the fruit. The elderberry has recently been investigated for its nutritional qualities and it was found that here was one of nature’s richest sources of vitamin C. It is far richer in this most-needed vitamin than citrus fruits or tomatoes.”
He tells us that “to make the jelly, take three cups of elderberry juice and three cups of crabapple or grape juice, or mix them any way that suits your taste, as long as you use at least half of the pectin-rich juice. Add 6 cups of sugar and boil until the jelly test tells you it will jell when cooled in the glasses.”
We are blessed with so many healthy, nutritious and palatable natural roots, bulbs, stems, fruits, seeds and leaves, surely the Garden of Eden could have offered little more.
As for today, I will watch for the does and their babies, If I am lucky, maybe a beautifully horned buck, and I will endure, as I await that first day of September. My best to you and yours.
I would like to invite you, today, to come to Pineville, the county seat of McDonald County, come when the historic old courthouse museum is open on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or Sunday, from 1 to 4 p.m. You may visit us online at the McDonald County Historical Society Facebook, or call and leave a message (P. O. Box 572, Pineville, 64856) at 223-7700.
Alberta Anders writes a weekly column for the Daily News.