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Summer heat turns to fall coolness

I’m glad to live where there are seasons, although as much as I love the sun on my bare back, I admit I would not miss football practice in such heat as we are having right now. Our first game against Greensboro each year was always heated, in more ways than one, but then coolness stepped in, the way it does not seem to do these days.  Coach Golden even issued us long baseball socks one year against Eutaw it was so cold.

I don’t know that my Linden teammates appreciated it all that much, but during timeouts it was not unusual for me to wander over to the other team’s side, and visit with friends like Hurley Knott of Greensboro, or Billy Cobb with Demopolis.  Laughed with Jinks Singleton in Sweet Water and Cousin Frank Thomas on the Thomaston squad.

I am thinking about replanting my muscadine arbor at the end of the yard this winter. I think about the muscadines across the street grown by Frank Jones, Tommy Mack’s daddy, back in the 50s, and he’d share them with us neighborhood boys and girls.  I miss my own now that they’ve died out.  Had to know how to eat one of those bronze beauties.  You’d bite into that fruit, swallow the juice, chew some more to capture the last drop, and then spit the whole thing, seeds, insides and peeling, to the ground for the ants and wasps to enjoy after we finished our feast.

Yes, and that summer fruit, round about October each fall, was replaced by our Stuart Pecans in the front yard. That pecan tree did a heap more than just load us down with those special eating and candy making nuts. It provided shade to the front porch, a sturdy limb for a yard swing, and perfect steps of limbs for me to climb to the tip top, and survey the neighborhood. I can’t be sure any farmers’ instruction manual ever printed anything about urging a pecan tree to produce a good crop of nuts, but Daddy believed that it was scientific to fire off a load or two of leaded six shot out of a shotgun into the tree trunk every year or so. I am reminded of about 25 years ago when Alice had a lady from Saltwell come in to help around the house once a month.  They commenced to discussing the lack of flower blooming on the wisteria bush in the front yard one day. Alice was advised that it was standard practice to cut a couple of switches, and beat the dickens out of that bush, which they did … and blooms appeared pretty soon thereafter.  That wisteria still blooms mighty well without getting another whooping. 

Then came winter time, and it was colder in the 40s and 50s than now, but I reckon heat and cold have fluctuated in this old world off and on for a heap of centuries.  Got winter memories of hunting with Daddy and Billy in some rough weather. They liked for me to go along not on account of I was near ‘bout as good a hunter as they were, but I was called upon to haul out the deer that they killed.  Shucks, what I recollect most about walking through the woods in the winter time is climbing up tree saplings, swinging out, and riding that sweet gum to the ground. Robert Frost knew his business when he penned the poem about “One Could Do Worst Than Be a Swinger of Birches.”

Speaking of trees, how I love to look up, and see spring buds on the trees, and little flowers peeking their heads out of the now warming ground.  Can’t wait to plow up that spring garden of fresh dirt. I’ve often said I would like to be buried in the springtime, but then I’d miss that season. Well, whenever the time comes, it will be the right season, and I reckon I can be sure that after all the years I’ve been allowed, I’ve helped produce some pretty good fruit, nuts and vegetables … in all kinds of weather …. and I’ve loved it all.

— Tom Boggs is a columnist for the Demopolis Times and a native of Marengo County. His column,“Days Gone Bye,” appears weekly.

(This column originally appeared in the Wednesday, August 21 issue of the Demopolis Times.)