“Some things will never change. Some things will always be the same. Lean down your ear upon the earth and listen.
“The voice of forest water in the night, a woman's laughter in the dark, the clean, hard rattle of raked gravel, the cricketing stitch of midday in hot meadows, the delicate web of children's voices in bright air — these things will never change.”

— From p. 40 of Signet Edition of Thomas Wolfe's “You can’t Go Home Again” (1940)

Some things will never change including the anticipation of children, school personnel and parents at the beginning of a new school year. How do I know this? I am still privileged to be a part of it all, teaching, learning, encouraging, public education has been and “is” a huge part of my life.

Young children, for the most part, are eager and enthusiastic about going to school. Young parents of young children are more likely to shed more tears than the children. I have seen parents wet a “bed sheet” with tears the first few weeks of school. An event hosted by one school years ago was a “Boohoo” Tea.

The centerpieces on the tables at the “Boohoo” Tea were boxes of Kleenex, and each place setting had a small packet of Kleenex. These were to dry the tears of many of the parents.

Tears, we shed them when we are happy, sad, excited, and, well, emotion brings them from our heart to our eyes. Nothing is more precious to most parents than the child they are entrusting, many times, for the first time, to someone with whom they may be unfamiliar.

Those first days of Pre-Kindergarten or Kindergarten is such a big, big step. I have seen parents who wanted to spend the day with the child. I have encountered parents who wanted to look into the teacher’s window during the day. I held the hands of parents in my office as they cried, because they were unsure about letting go. Sometimes, not all the time, the parent has a harder time with dependency than the child. The parent or parents, may have become so dependent on that child being with them that it’s, well, hard, for them to allow their child to take steps towards independence. This is just an observation; no judgments here at ALL. Our minds may tell us “all will be well,” but, at times, the heart is another matter.

My advice, for what it’s worth, is this: Be sensitive to the tears of those who are shedding them, as their children take that first step towards independence and try, in a gentle way, to help them take, and, no pun intended, “baby steps” in order to arrive at a place where they can loosen their grip and feel better about “letting go.” Remember it’s a process and may take a little while. Patience is one of the fruits of the spirit, and sometimes, patience takes effort.

Another thing that remains unchanged, the sweetness of scuppernongs. I think of them this time of the year; as they are ripe. Oh, that sweet juicy explosion of rich flavor in that first bite into one. Our dear, lifetime friends, the late Clyde and Gloria Hunter, who lived north of us on the Woodpecker Route, closer to “Belmont” and Prospect Primitive Baptist Church where many of their loved ones and mine rest beneath that sandy soil, had a huge grape “scuppernong” arbor. Jerry Lawrence and I spent many happy times with the Hunter “girls,” now grown ladies, with children and many with grandchildren of their own, Amelia, Jan, Cindy, Clyda and Gretchen, eating those scuppernongs until we could eat no more. Those are sweet memories, as sweet as those scuppernongs; we called them grapes. I didn’t find out until I was nearly shaving they were really scuppernongs.

Here are major differences between Scuppernong Vs Muscadine: Muscadine is a wide category of grapes that includes many varieties of black and bronze fruits. Scuppernong is a variety of Muscadine. That is why, it is said that all Scuppernongs are Muscadines, but not all Muscadines are Scuppernongs.

The term scuppernong can apply either to one particular cultivar of muscadine grape, Vitis rotundifolia “Scuppernong,” or to all bronze varieties of muscadine. Named for the Scuppernong River in North Carolina, they are descended from wild grapes and thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 to 10. Although pest and disease resistant, the vines frequently suffer from a magnesium deficiency. You can prevent that problem from scuppernong your scuppernongs with an application of Epsom salt, which is actually magnesium sulfate.

Remember this as school begins, and this is free of charge: “Children may not always remember what you taught them, but they will always remember how you made them FEEL.”

Before closing this week, here's a recipe for Scuppernong Pie:

Ingredients:

  • Pastry for a 9-inch double-crust pie
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups Muscatine or scuppernong grapes (about 2 pounds), rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

Instructions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9-inch pie pan with crust, leaving a 1-inch overhang.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and salt, and stir with a fork to mix well. Set out a medium bowl and a medium saucepan.

Squeeze the grapes over the saucepan, dropping the pulpy, seed-filled grapes into the pan and placing their thick, sturdy skins, or hulls, into the bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of water to the saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil and cook the grape pulp until softened and shiny, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked grape pulp to a strainer and place it over the bowl of grape hulls. Press the grapes through the strainer, pushing the softened pulp into the pan with the hulls while extracting the large, round seeds. Use the back of a large spoon to get as much pulp as possible. Discard the seeds, and transfer the hulls and pulp back to the saucepan. Cook them over medium heat to soften the hulls, about 5 minutes more.

Add the sugar mixture and lemon juice to the grapes and stir to mix everything well. Pour the filling into the piecrust. Sprinkle the small bits of butter over the grape filling, distributing it evenly. Wet the rim of the bottom piecrust to help seal it.

Roll the remaining dough into a 10-inch circle and cover the filling. Trim away the extra pastry extending beyond the rim of the pie pan. Crimp the edges firmly, or press them down with the back of a fork, working your way around the edge of the pie to seal the crust well. Use a sharp knife to cut 8 slits in the top crust, to allow steam to escape and fruit juices to bubble up as the pie cooks.

Place the pie on a foil-lined baking sheet to capture any drips, and place it on the lower shelf of the 400-degree oven. Bake 10 minutes, and then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake until the crust is a handsome, golden brown and the grape juices are bubbling up through the crust, about 40 to 50 minutes more. Place the pie on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes one 9-inch double-crust pie.

From the Eight Mile Still on the Woodpecker Route north of White Springs, wishing you a day filled with joy, peace, and, above all, lots of love and laughter.

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