When fall arrives “Around the Banks of the Suwannee,” I am reminded of the title of the movie “Waiting to Exhale.” Most of us, sigh more than audibly when we feel that first, magical cool touch caress our skin and welcome us with arms more comforting than Grandma’s patchwork quilt. Thoughts of fall from some of my readers:
“I love the colors of fall: oranges, deep reds, gold, and broom sedge in the flat woods of home turns from a light silvery green to an amber color.”
“Football, almost a religion in the Deep South. Whether you are cheering on the local high school team, your favorite college team, spectators fire up grills at the game or ‘at home’ and enjoy the camaraderie of cheering a favorite team on to victory or ‘sticking with them’ during defeat.”
“Pumpkins and cornstalks, baked apples, fresh mustard greens, collards, or turnips simmering on the stove, cornbread baking in the oven, maybe a fresh apple cake. I love the cinnamon and fragrances, sights and sounds of the fall.
“The smell of burning leaves even brings fall to mind. I love it.”
“I love making an annual trip with my cousins to the mountains of North Carolina. We have the best time. We laugh and talk and enjoy the crisp mountain air and just the joy of ‘being together.’ We have a ball. Whether the fall color is beautiful or not; we have a GREAT time.”
“The aroma of wood smoke. I love bonfires, sitting around them, roasting marshmallows or hot dogs. In the Deep South, we call it having a ‘wienie roast.’ Cutting long saw palmetto fans and sticks, taking the fan off, trimming off the saw, teeth on the side of the palmetto stick, sharpening the end, just a bit, and using it to spear the marshmallow or the hot dog and then roasting to your liking.”
“The stories, the hypnotic effect of the fire. The joy of the fall season. Fall is the time of year our part of Florida truly comes to life. After the sweltering heat of summer, it is a most welcomed time.”
“Fall reminds me of ‘cane grinding.’ In our family, we still hold an annual ‘cane grinding’ of sugar cane. The sweetness and richness of sugar cane juice. Cooking the juice down in a syrup kettle to make can syrup, and that first, sweet, amber colored cane syrup poured over homemade biscuit.”
“Church homecomings. Folks ‘coming home’ to their ‘home church.’ This is a ‘Southern thing.’ It is like a family reunion. You see folks you haven’t seen in a while. You sing, pray, worship together, and then you enjoy some of the best food in the world. Tables full of chicken and dumplings, baked ham, fresh acre peas, and what Southern event would be complete without platters of deviled eggs. Deviled eggs are like the ‘lagniappe’ of any Southern Church Homecoming or Family Reunion.”
There are so many events that arrive during the fall, and I hope someone whispers to Mother Nature and asks nicely if she would please consider sending us a bit more rain and lower the thermostat by Trick or Treat Time. It has been, to coin a movie title “The Long Hot Summer.”
Come join us at the Virginia B. Chandler, Jasper Public Library on Thursday, Oct. 10, at 6 p.m. for the Florida premiere of a documentary by Hal and Henry Jacobs, “Breaking the Silence.” The late Lillian Smith, Jasper, Florida, native wrote many book. My personal favorite is her “A Memory of a Large Christmas,” which was definitely set in Jasper, Florida. Come enjoy this film about the life and works of a truly great Southern writer and civil rights activist.
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park will host its Suwannee Roots Revival with some great music, food, and just lots of fun from Oct. 10-13 at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. Go to their website or Facebook page for more information. You can even purchase tickets on line.
At Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, mark your calendars for the weekend of Oct. 18-20, for the 30th Annual Quilt Show and Sale. I love this event. I truly do. Quilts are pure artistry to me, and I guess being a student of history, all quilts tell a story. We have a couple of very old quilts, and I think of the ladies in my family decades ago patiently hand stitching and quilting, as they reminisced about the small pieces of material saved from a wedding dress, or a baby’s first Easter dress, or from a favorite skirt worn by “Aunt so and so”. Pure artistry, and, trust me, for a nominal price you can view some outstanding quilts at the Stephen Foster Annual Quilt Show.
On Oct. 24-27 Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park truly cranks it up a notch with “Hulaween,” which has become a major, major event. For those interested in great Halloween themed events, fabulous music, good food and a great time on the banks of the Suwannee, this is the event for you.
The annual Big Shoals Pumpkin Festival will be held at Big Shoals State Park north of White Springs off County Road 135, the Woodpecker Route, on Saturday, Oct. 26, from 3 till 6 p.m. Come in your costume or not for Halloween and decorate a pumpkin and enjoy the natural and scenic beauty of Big Shoals State Park. For more information phone 386-397-7009.
Now, a quote from Lillian Smith’s ‘A Memory of a Large Christmas,” as well as a recipe:
“Christmas began when pecans started falling. The early November rains loosened the nuts from their outer shells and sent those plopping like machine gun bullets on the roof of the veranda. In the night you’d listen and you’d know it would soon be here. It was NOT Thanksgiving. We skipped that day, at school, there were exercises, yes, and we dressed up like New England Pilgrims and play-acted Priscilla and Miles Standish and made like we had just landed on Plymouth Rock, but the truth is, the only Plymouth Rocks we saw in our minds were the black and white hens scratching round the hen house. In those days, the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving did not dent the imaginations of little Southerners, some of whose parents wouldn’t concede they had a thing to be thankful for anyway. It was football that elevated the day to a festival — but that was later on than these memories.”
Lemon-Buttermilk Chess Pie:
4 large eggs beaten
½ stick of butter melted
¼ cup of regular buttermilk
3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups of packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons of yellow cornmeal
¼ teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of lemon zest.
One unbaked 9 inch pie shell (regular)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, butter, buttermilk, lemon juice, vanilla, brown sugar, cornmeal and salt and beat with an electric mixer till well blended and smooth. Add the lemon zest and stir till well blended. Scrape the mixture into the pie shell and bake till a straw inserted the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool the pie completely on a rack. Good stuff.
Now, before closing, my belated birthday wishes to Mrs. Rosa Lee Fisher, White Springs, who celebrated her 102nd birthday surrounded by friends and family at the Springville Community Center on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. At 80, she could work circles around most folks who were half her age. Her mother was the late Queenie Fisher who owned and operated the historic Boneyard in White Springs for many, many years. In the History of Hamilton County and, in the publication written by the late John C. “Buddy” Camp and Virginia J. Daniel, Queenie Fisher’s Boneyard is mentioned. For those of you scratching your heads, a boneyard was an expanse of yard and garden. An arch was usually made from various animal bones and other bones were artfully arranged in the garden with beautiful seasonal flowers and vines growing among the bones. This was a tourist attraction and, one could tour the Boneyard, have your fortune told and maybe, too, purchase a slice of sweet potato pie or some lemonade or tea. Later, Queenie sold her vast collection of animal bones to the Museum of Natural History in New York City.
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.