Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Winter arrived way too early

So far we've had three nights in the 'teens in November, and today the forecast is for a warmup of sorts -- all the way up to 31 F.   Well, take 'em where you can get 'em. We've had lows at 17, 13 and 14 at night recently, and all day yesterday the digital thermometers struggled to get to 24, so 31 looks positively balmy. Take a peek at Mabry Mill over on the Parkway, from this morning:

We had a little bit of warning this was coming. Our young'uns out West told us of foot-deep snows and frigid temps sweeping south and east, so last week we dashed to the garden and pulled the last of the broccoli, chard and kale.  We polished off the broccoli Sunday and took care of the kale last night, so we've pretty much consumed the winter garden's bounty.

The garden was a great success this year, and not just for the little critters and birds who got the eggplant, the okra and the corn. By the time we figured out how to tighten up the bottom of the new fence, we had so many peppers, tomatoes, potatoes that we were having to think up places to put them.  The squash was fantastic -- yellow and green and good.  The asparagus patch as usual put out hundreds of pounds, and the blueberries were enormous.

After we pulled up the last of the fall garden, we hauled mulch and compost to the asparagus patch to help it through the winter and jump-start the spring.  In about eight weeks we'll go into the blueberry patch and start pruning the insides of the bushes, and also the outsides.  They've badly overgrown, making it hard to pass up the row to pick the high stuff, and we're trying to bring some order to the patch. We also plan to transplant some more rabbit-eye blueberries from down near the creek to the patch on the western slope, where we hope there will be more blue and less green than we've been getting on the eastern slope.

And sometime in late winter or early spring we'll put in another half dozen apple trees somewhere -- perhaps on the same western-facing slope where the blueberries thrive.  We'll be watching the mail for the first of the garden catalogs and plotting where we'll plant what -- something to look forward to in what evidently is going to be a long, cold one.  We're burning our way through the first cord of firewood at a pretty rapid clip, so unless there are some long thaws, I'll be in the woods scouting up the deadfalls and standing locusts to help get us through.  Winter in the Blue Ridge has arrived here at the Rocky Knob Tractor & Yacht Club.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembering Uncle St. Clair, lost in the War to End All Wars

This flag hung on the front door at 805 S. McDuffie Street in Anderson, South Carolina, for several years a century ago.

It's a Gold Star Mothers Flag.

The Gold Star was for Anderson Machine Gun Company Private Victor St. Clair Minor.

He was a Blue Star until early on the morning of Oct. 17, 1918, when he went over the top and disappeared in a bombshell explosion somewhere near the border between Belgium and France.

My grandmother, Olive Patterson Cochrane Minor, sewed the Gold Star over the Blue Star when word came down from the Army that St. Clair had died in action.

She had sewn on the two Blue Stars when both her sons went in and over there.

The top one was for St. Clair, the bottom one was for Charles S. Minor Jr., her older boy.

Charlie was in the cavalry, and came home from the War to End All Wars.

Years later, St. Clair's few remains came home, too, and he was reburied in Anderson.

So on this Veterans Day 2014, I remember Uncle Charlie, who lived into the 1960s, and I think about Uncle St. Clair, who died 28 years before I was born, and I send them my thanks, my respects, my admiration and my salute.

Spec. E-5 John M. Betts Jr.
RA 12816683
U.S. Army Signal Corps, 1969-72