April 2, 2012


"I will always have Tara". ~~~Scarlett O'Hara. The land that I always loved; never really realizing how much until it has all been sold. The last of the land that I spent lots of time on is well on its way to no longer belonging to members of my family. This land wasn't even close to being owned by me, but my aunt and uncle shared all the enjoyment the land had to offer with my brother and I. The fish pond, creek, and the hills we rode horses on. The chores of picking up the rocks and dragging the brush to the burn pile were a huge part of it, also. One Sunday afternoon we had the biggest fire going. Burning stuff was something that we thought nothing of. There were not the pollution laws then there are now. Burning was how we disposed of the cows bodies when they died. The burning of a cow was an all day job. The best way to get it to burn fast was pile tires around the body. At the end of the day there was nothing left but ashes. When my aunt and uncle bought the farm that we spent so many hours roaming we burnt piles and piles of brush, left from the clearing of the newly acquired land. The Sunday afternoon that we had worked way longer than I wanted. I had a very important church service that I wanted to attend. My uncle was in no hurry for us to stop before me to catch the church bus that evening at 5:30. At that time the little church in Rogersville was my greatest form of a social life. We had just gotten to a point that I thought my uncle was going to let us quit for the day; when his daughter threw a huge piece of brush on the fire. She had to get really close to man handle it to the burning pile. She got so close that when the sparks from the chinked fire popped up they got her hair. The hair that she had worked hard to get all one length went up in a poof. The good thing was that it just poof ed the on the ends and the hair fire was out. The oldest of our boy cousins didn't even try to hide the terror of watching her hair appear to explode. All I could do was stare in dis-belief that hair would burn like that. She was not even close to being hairless when we all rushed to her after the shock. It just got the ends and a good trimming could straighten it out. One of those times when we thought the worst and it all turned out fine. She didn't have to wear a hat or cap out in public. This land also had a big pond that had catfish that my daddy said some of the fish we caught weight eight pounds. We never did weigh them so I really don't know. I do know that you could go late in the evening and catch one every time you threw in your hook. Late in the evening was when my uncle would feed them the fish feed he got from Fuzzy Feeds. I used to love to ride to Fuzzy Feeds with my aunt. She made a run once a week for pig feed. I felt special when she let me go. Making me feel important and loved was one thing she did. I would talk about my trips with her for days; this made my brother and boy cousins think I should just shut up. They really got tired of me talking about the fun I had with our aunt. My boy cousins thought I should not feel like I was a part of any family but my own mama and daddy's. The trip to get Grandmother stuff with S&H green stamps will always make me a little mad at them. I went with my aunt and her two girls with the stamps to get house stuff for Grandmother after the fire burnt the old house down. We got her a tall vase that I see in many antique stores today. I said look what we got for Grandmother. I was told right quick by my older boy cousin that I had not gotten anything; that my aunt had gotten it. Hey, I helped lick the stamps. WTF, did it matter anyway. Maybe I was rubbing it in a bit, that my aunt helped me have fun as a kid. The things that land gave to us will forever be a wonderful part of growing up. I gathered much more than rocks and brush from that 160 acres of land. I know that this land being gone is going to stir the same feelings that the Mandy Farm and Eddy Farm being sold do in me. It is a part of life that land gives that nothing else can. There are the paths, the fences, the blackberry bushes, ponds and trees that have a beauty that only are present on the land. Tastes of what I nibbled on while strolling around the pastures will always be etched in my mind. The apples at the corner of the barn lot were tiny, but good. The persimmon tree at the edge of the fence behind the barn, made my mouth draw, but there was enough sweet to make me nibble anyway. The plums that were behind Locks Crossing church were probably the best thing I found to nibble on. Then there were blackberries all over the back side of the twenty acres at Grandmother's home place. It was all good and it was all on the land. I gathered things to eat as well as a love for what grows on the land. The creek bottom had only the muscadine vines, but I ate them too. The creek bottom was best for the creek. If it rained, it flooded and turned the muddiest brown; the water rushed and rushed. Fear of the water was something I did not have. The stronger the current the better I liked it. I would jump in the muddy flood and let it carry me along. That to me seems very dangerous; I would not have let my girls do it, but I did not drown, thank goodness. I must really have had a guardian angel to keep me gathering life along the way.

Muscadine Wine

1 quart mashed fruit
3 quarts water
6 cups sugar
Dissolve sugar in water put mashed fruit in with water and sprinkle yeast on top. Do not stir till the next day then stir every day for a week. Strain off liquid and place in a container with an air lock of some type for 6 weeks to allow fermentation to complete itself. Strain off again and bottle; cap lightly for 3 days to allow for any more fermentation to cease. Cap and store in a cool place. This recipe works with muscadines, blackberries, even apples.....makes a good tasting old fashion type wine with less alcohol than the vodka mixture.
The recipe for the one gallon jug will actually make three quarts unless after initial fermentation...when racked off to the air lock...you add the additional liquid to make the full gallon. What we used to do was use a 3 1/2 gallon pickle jug for initial fermentation and put a little extra liquid in it and rack to three one gallon jugs with air locks for final fermentation.
Makes 1 gallon of muscadine wine.

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