Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Small Town News


 I love small town newspapers. When we moved here I could hardly believe that the paper only cam e out once a week. But now I understand. There is no National or even regional news reported in a small town paper. For that you buy the paper from the nearest big city. And in a small town, there is not enough news to report more then once a week. By the time the paper comes out, it’s usually old news anyway to more then half the people in the county. Baby’s births are listed months after the occurrence and hopefully the obituary is posted before the funeral, but doesn’t really matter because anyone who needs to know where the funeral is being held will anyway.

So then what big news is reported in the small town paper? Front page this week: Santa leads the Christmas parade on Sunday afternoon, anyone wanting to participate can. Young boy chasing a buck, bags a coyote instead, saving both his life and the deer’s.  Hunting violations, national Wild Turkey Federation assisting feeding the hungry, and local calendar events. All ten pages cover births and deaths, sports, ads fro cars, restaurants, real estate, farm notes from Farm Service Agency, a history article and news articles from each little corner of the county that entertain and inform everyone who visited whom and who to pray for in that locale. 

That little news article from the four corners of the county are one of my favorite parts of the paper. Of course I don’t know who everyone is because I’m not a native, and won’t ever be one, although one of my children has a chance of slipping in someday because he married a home town girl, and my grand children may one day be considered natives inspite of their out of state grandmother. But I still enjoy the local facts. One week it was about the spook that history says lives in our county-we have our own yeti tale. Sometimes it’s about mountain sayings- which helps me translate some of those meanings. Of course, after almost 15 years here I don’t’ hear the accent anymore and I usually know which way is up(south). For example, this week the writer from Sugar Grove informs us how to enjoy living in the country:

“Y”all is singular. All Y’all is plural. All Y’all’s is plural possessive.” Now that clears some things up.  “Don’t be worried that one doesn’t understand anyone. They don’t understand one either.” I’m relieved. “It is not a requirement to spit, scratch or chew. Neither is it necessary to pick one’s teeth with hay, wear coveralls, or a cowboy hat or hitch up your britches. Please wear a belt instead of a rope. There are no outhouses.” Really, only some people are like that, not all. 

“The cars in front of a house are operational. People walk slower here.” Yes, but my personal experience is that they make up the time they spend standing around talking on the road. Most drive much faster on these twisty mountain roads then any sane person would, but that changes too, the longer you live here. “Do not bring your winter wardrobe out until November. If there is a prediction of the slightest chance of even the most minuscule accumulation of snow, one’s presence is required at the local grocery store.” Not just for the bread and milk either but for the gasoline to run the generators when the power goes out. And of course to discuss what the chances are we will actually get the snow and to reminisce about the last 100 years of snow fall and forecasts.

So whatever you need to know for living in your small town, can be found in the small town newspaper. Many people who move away still subscribe to their small town paper. It’s the best way to keep in touch with the news, all ten pages of it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Is Santa Claus Real?

Do you believe in Santa Claus? Do you teach your children to believe in Santa?

Well, I was brought up believing in Santa Claus. I tell people when Santa brings you a horse for Christmas, you had better believe
I was 7 years old and wanted a horse for Christmas. I told everyone who would listen that all I wanted was a horse, and that if I couldn’t have a horse, I didn’t want anything. Christmas morning, there was no horse tied outside the picture window, as close to underneath the tree as I could imagine. There were other presents for me, so I thought there was no way there could be a horse. I joined the family opening gifts, but I guess my disappointment shone through, for when were finished unwrapping everything under the tree, my father asked me what was wrong. I said that he knew what was wrong, that I didn’t get my horse. That’s when the fun began.

He asked if I had checked the barn. No, our barn was still under construction, but I grabbed my coat and boots and went to see, hoping and expecting to see a horse. No horse. I returned back to the house, disappointed anew. Then Dad said well, maybe Santa left it somewhere else since our barn wasn’t finished. So the family piled into the car and drove to the neighbor’s farm where my sister boarded her horse. Again, no horse. But my father was not finished. He asked if I knew anyone else with a barn where Santa may have left the horse. So we drove to my Aunts where my brother lived in the tenant house, and there was a paint waiting for me. 

So I was one of the lucky kids in the world to get a horse for Christmas. Many children at age 7 are starting to doubt Santa’s existence, but not me. 

When my own children went through the stage of doubting, I told them about the Santa we traditionally visited to tell him what they wanted. This Santa was actually a woman and was so good at her job that she was portrayed in an article in a famous lady’s magazine. Every year a local business sponsored her location. She had a young very small lady play an elf; she wrote a long list of what children wanted, had photos of her reindeer, and as the years progressed, really remembered children’s names. But the thing that made her such a phenomenal Santa is that on Christmas Eve she visited under privileged families in the county, providing trees, Christmas dinner, and of course toys. She allowed us to participate in this too, as we could give her new or lightly used toys to help other children. My favorite personal story of this is the year my niece asked for a doll house for Christmas. She was almost too old for such a toy, but that is what she wanted and we had her name in the family gift exchange. By the next Christmas she was no longer interested in the toy and had played with it very little. The gift was given to Santa to find a new home. After Christmas Santa wrote a letter to tell us that the gift went to a little girl confined to a wheel chair and it was the perfect table top toy for her. We had the joy of giving that gift twice. So I told my children that the Santa they visited every year was a real Santa. To this day, my oldest of 32 says he still believes in Santa.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Muontain Living Intro

The West Virginia Mountains
I would never have considered myself a mountain person. I grew up vacationing at the beach; my family had a summer home on the bay and I love the water.  More than 10 years ago I crossed the Shenandoah Mountain from Virginia into West Virginia and my soul had a sense of home coming. Later my husband shared that he had that same feeling that Sunday morning. We were looking for an affordable place to farm and West Virginia stole our hearts.

West Virginians are proud of their mountains. Our state motto is “ Montani Semper Leberi” which means “mountaineers are always free.” I know we sometimes have had our name smeared with negative labels such as “hillbilly” and “redneck”, but that is not our true nature. The flip side of that coin is a simple lifestyle, old fashioned values, and a down home wisdom from years of “makin’ do.” Where life is slower, things are sometimes clearer. That’s not to say we don’t live in the modern world of busy schedules and things fighting for priority in our lives. We are still human and fall to the temptations of more is better and the newest thing is the thing to have.

Something happens to me however when I raise my eyes to the mountain tops. As my eyes go up, so my spirit lifts. I am reminded that my life is short and the stuff I accumulate is temporary. My thoughts turn to our creator as I view His magnificent world. 

So I thought I would share with others the things I have learned living here in these mountains, from others, from experiences, and from mistakes. Farming here is not what I had imagined. I love John Denver’s songs and we claim his Almost Heaven West Virginia as our own (even though he’s got his geography a bit confused), but I think if I had him here I would shake him silly for singing that line “life on the farm is kinda laid back”.