Drinking coffee at the breakfast table in my pajamas and a duster, I was invited to go with Gerald on his Gator to see the sunflowers. For some reason, the deer have been extra kind to them this year. Hurriedly finishing my coffee, I left the house as I was and climbed in for a ride around the farm. Going past our garden and then the neighbor’s test plots, we reached a back field. Rows and rows of sunflowers were abloom in their full circled golden glory with an infrequent blue morning glory to add an extra bit of color. No wonder the electric power line down our driveway is filled with doves these days.
Over across the country road to yet another field, we next traveled on the strip still in the Conservation Reserve Program. We appreciated driving beside the thick tall corn in the field that had come out of CPR. Along a waterway filled with large rocks, I asked Gerald where those huge boulders came from. Oh, the Sullivan boys from Goreville hauled them for us probably 20 years ago, he answered. It is exciting to see what his conscientious conservation has accomplished. Occasionally, Gerald would interrupt our ride to hop down, grab his spray, and give a lethal dose to kill a rare but unwanted piece of Johnson grass. Getting rid of Johnson grass has been a career-long effort for him.
Sweet corn and now tomatoes are part of many of our summer menus these days. That make meals easy to fix. And peaches, plums, melons, grapes, and sweet red cherries from the store or fruit stand make an easy summer dessert—sometimes mixed in with the bananas that are always on our table to make sure we have the potassium needed for meds and prevention of leg cramps.
Summer company is another pleasant addition to our lives. Last week it was an unexpected but most welcome visit from Sandra Henry from Indiana. Her mother, Shirley Jones Henry, was my second cousin. Shirley was a childhood companion in summer when we both lived in hilltop farm houses with a rock-bottomed creek between. We would holler our signal and meet up for hours of play in that beautiful creek. Years later, Shirley’s grandfather, who was my great Uncle Sam Martin, moved up from his home in Sleepy Hollow to our farm named Mount Airy Farm by my aunt Myrtle when she was a girl growing up there.
Sam’s home in the hollow on farm land bought a few decades ago by the government had been built by my great grandfather following his return from the Civil War. The house is probably crumbling now, but the nearby cave used as a tool shed would still be there. The road down is no longer passable. My cousin Doug and his son David came from California over a decade ago to see it, and they are the last I know to hike down that over-grown hollow. They came back covered with ticks, but feeling accomplished.
Sometime after Uncle Sam’s death, Shirley and her husband and children moved into the house at Mount Airy. As the oldest child, Sandra vividly remembers living there and the smell of Sam’s tobacco when they moved in. Sandra loves to tell me how my daddy—always the teacher—would tell her big words as they rode horses together and would encourage her to learn to spell them. Sadly, the house burned down (another of her vivid memories), and their family moved onto Marion. Not too much later, Sandra lost her daddy. So it was only at a couple Martin family reunions over a decade ago that I met Sandra as an adult with some of her family at Ferne Clyffe Park. But a love of her mother and our love of Mount Airy Farm binds Sandra and me together.
We have carried on some correspondence about family history, and she discovered not only a wonderful story about Uncle Sam’s false imprisonment and consequent release but also a mysterious secret that my very special Uncle Oscar had a son named Hebron who disappeared from Johnson County census records after our great grandmother’s death. Sandra traced him to Missouri, his service in World War II, and finally to California. Sandra could not stay long at Woodsong as she had come down from visiting two of her brothers in Jacksonville and was on her way to decorate her parents’ and great grandparents’ graves at Cedar Grove Cemetery down in Happy Hollow. And she was able to catch up with her mother’s first cousin Lowell Martin in Goreville for a brief visit there too.
Our grandson Sam (no, not named after my great uncle but for the Biblical Samuel) was out again for a few days, and other family members have been in and out. More are expected this week, and we are excited about that. And the next week the younger cousins are planning to gather in before school starts again. So they will be enjoying sweet corn and tomatoes with us.
New arrivals every day - Items have been coming in daily at the shop. Its like Christmas around there, opening packages and finding things I forgot I ordered. Why did I wait so l...
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