Monthly Archives: April 2023


Years ago I loved to browse in the shops along the Savannah waterfront while Charles was in veterinary meetings. On one such occasion I strolled into an antique store just to look at the treasures people had let go. I was intrigued by the exciting smells of furniture wax, a burning candle, and mysteries galore. Right away I spotted her, a beautiful golden-haired doll dressed in green velvet wearing a hat to match sitting all alone on a marble topped dresser. Had she been abandoned by some little girl who outgrew dolls?

Now I’m not the doll lover my sister has always been. Mamma used to tell me to play dolls with Suzanne when what I wanted to do was read a book. I did have some dolls. One of them I named Mary. Instead of cuddling her or dressing and undressing her in different outfits I used her for a ball and tried to see how high I could throw her and then catch her. Sometimes I didn’t catch her which wasn’t too good for her. Somehow, over the years, I lost track of Mary. I don’t think she survived.

Yet here I was a grown woman with grandchildren at home struck by that blonde doll, almost as if I’d known her somewhere else. Maybe she was the doll I’d always secretly wanted–golden curls, blue eyes, and that green dress. I picked her up, and her piquant face took on life right before my eyes. I walked around the store holding her as if I were going to buy her, then carefully set her back on the dresser where I’d found her. She seemed to follow me with her sweet gaze as I left the store.

I explored a candle maker’s shop and bought a bite of caramel fudge at the candy store, strolled down by the river to see the statue of “The Waving Girl,” then meandered back toward our hotel. Suddenly I found myself right in front of that same antique store. Should I at least go in and see her again?

When I walked in the store I saw her smile as if to say “Please, don’t you want me?” I promptly bought her and named her Savannah as I walked back to the hotel.

Savannah has been part of our household ever since. Some children who had seen the movie “Dolls” were afraid of her at first and pretty much avoided her. In fact, when they spent the night, they didn’t want her in the room with them. But gradually they warmed to her and now she’s become quite the social lady. She sits in my office most of the time with that serene, happy look on her face. But we think she likes it best when there’s a tea party. She’s always invited and usually is in the middle of everything. The kids drag out the tiny tea set, and make sandwiches the size of a butterbean just for Savannah, then argue about who actually gets to eat them.

I smile when I find Savannah sitting askew on the daybed with her hat dropped on the floor. I know she’s been having a really good time. Maybe she’s just a doll. She has no ability to be sad or truly happy. But in the imaginations of a grandmother with her grandchildren Savannah has become a character with feelings and aspirations. Like a puppet or a mask, she helps us create fun and healthy drama.

I think about Savannah sitting in that antique store so lonely with no little girl hands to tinker with her hair and no one to care whether or not her hat was straight, no opportunity to lose her little black shoes, and certainly no chance to cause giggles and conversation over tiny cups of hot tea. I’m really glad I found Savannah that day on the waterfront and rescued her from a life of boredom. If she could talk, I’m sure she’d say she’s glad too. It was relatively peaceful and safe in that store. But I think she loves the helter-skelter of a household of children so much better.


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Hunting Mushrooms

When my sister sent me this picture of a boleta mushroom she knew it would make me smile. She knew I would immediately remember those days when our mother sent us with a basket or a lard bucket to hunt for mushrooms on Firewood Heights.

Firewood Heights was not the steepest hill on our place called Pinedale. But it was a big hill, a thickly wooded hill, a good place for cutting sturdy oak saplings for the den fire and the kitchen stove. And it was a good place, after a long soaking rain, to find mushrooms.

Dad had taught us all how to distinguish the good mushrooms from the bad. I never saw a book around our house on how to tell which mushrooms were edible. I don’t know exactly how he knew so well which ones to look for. He said he had tested them, breaking the caps open to see if they changed color (those that turn blue are very, very bad), even putting his tongue briefly to a broken stem to taste if it were bitter, another bad sign. He showed us the elegant Caesars with their rusty red rooftops as well as others that looked like Caesars but were poisonous instead. He showed us the perky Boletas with their puffy rounded tops the color of red clay and also other mushrooms which looked similar but were very bad. There were certain puffballs that grew in the pasture that were safe and delicious, and an odd ear-like lichen growing on rotting logs. But our favorites were the boletas.

Mamma, too, knew her mushrooms and had taught us well. So when we went to hunt for mushrooms on Firewood Heights we knew what to look for. She knew just the kind of day that might be good for mushrooms so usually we were successful.

Mushrooming was one of our favorite jobs. We loved tramping around in the woods anyway, and there was something very invigorating about having a goal, enough mushrooms for supper. We learned how to hunt along fallen logs, yet also to have sharp eyes for open leafy areas where boletas could be found standing like fairy gazebos just waiting for us to spy them or sometimes in friendly groups of three or four. It was a game to see who could find the most or the prettiest ones just popped up that very morning from the sodden leaves, or the biggest ones, Caesars with their wider rooftops that might have been there the day before.

Anyone who has had the joy of hunting Easter eggs amongst the lilies would know how much fun it could be to find a small stand of youthful boletas or a Caesar hiding behind a tree. The rush of excitement is similar to when one pulls branches apart to reveal a robin’s nest of three perfect blue eggs. Sometimes we shouted with glee when we found the mushrooms. Other times, if our own basket were almost empty, we might pluck the mushrooms up hurriedly before making any announcement.

We loved walking in the back door with our baskets or buckets well laden. Mamma would smile in delight. She, and sometimes Dad, would carefully inspect the contents of our baskets to be sure we’d harvested good mushrooms, not poisonous ones. And that night for supper, along with other things, Mamma would fry the mushrooms in an iron skillet. Nothing ever tasted better.

Mamma and Dad taught us about mushrooms and about a lot of other things. It was important to them that we know the good from the bad, not just concerning mushrooms, but about so much more.

So, yes, Suzanne, I did smile when I saw your picture of that perky boleta standing so erectly amongst the leaves like a lone soldier on guard.


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The First Brown Thrasher

The brown thrasher splashed in the bird bath yesterday as if he were having the most glorious time. He hopped up on the edge, sat there a few seconds as he looked all around, then flopped back in to splash again. He just couldn’t get enough water play. I watched him several minutes fascinated by his auburn feathers and speckled chest but most particularly his joy in splashing water. When he flew away to dry in a nearby camellia bush I noticed how, even wet, he looked so regal. I wonder where he came from and why he doesn’t stay here except during nesting season. He is the Georgia bird, after all, and we are in Georgia, albeit almost as far south as one could go. We wondered at breakfast why at least his children wouldn’t stay with us. But every year when the babies learn to fly, off the whole family goes to other regions.

Purple iris are blooming under the maple tree. The white ones have bloomed and left, like prophetic angels preparing us for the purple royalty.

A squirrel fusses loudly about some affront. Cardinals cheerfully sing and titmice do their chirping thing as they flit back and forth to the feeders. Red, the turtle, has been for a visit on the porch. More than once we’ve driven into the carport to find red eyes of a possum looking back at us. The mulberry tree is bright with hundreds of green berries and the birds are having a mulberry festival. As we do every year, we find great joy in watching birds, sometimes a dozen at a time, flock in and out of the loaded branches. But usually the squirrels, too, would have come by now to start their acrobatic feeding on the berries. Are they waiting for the green fruit to turn purple?

I watched from the front porch as Charles cut dead wood away from the hibiscus so its green leaves can grow unimpaired. Later, its blooms of peach, watermelon red, and even yellow will inspire us.

Along the outside of the back porch tubs and buckets hold new plantings of herbs: mint, rosemary, thyme, lavender, and sage. Charles has planted a wee garden toward the green barn: squash, peppers, sweet potatoes and okra. There’s something so encouraging and hopeful about a spring garden. New beginnings! A fresh start!

The sun goes behind a cloud and a light rain scents the earth.

Everywhere I look I’m reminded of The Resurrection. From the brown thrasher to the new garden, from the purple iris to the mulberry tree, everything is waking up and shouting “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”

James 1:17: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.


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April Fool

The phone rang about 4:00 that morning. I answered it, hoping it wasn’t bad news or that Charles would have to go out to deliver a calf or treat a horse with colic. We were planning to go to my home in north Georgia later that day. Surely nothing was going to stop us!

It wasn’t bad news at all. It was very good news! My brother Charlie drawled, “Suzanne had her baby.” “Well, is it a girl or a boy?” I asked, thrilled that my sister had finally had the baby. She’d been so big she could hardly sit down at the table. Charlie sounded half asleep as he answered. “It’s a girl.” “Well, what did they name her?” I was irked that Charlie was making me drag everything out of him.

“They named her Fairlight Suzanne.” I squealed with delight that Suzanne and Bill had named their baby for her mother and for one of our favorite characters in Catherine Marshall’s novel, Christy. “Oh, what a beautiful name,” I said. “How much does she weigh?” Charlie was slow to answer but finally said he thought the baby weighed about two and a half pounds.

I was alarmed then. Two and a half pounds? Suzanne had been so big. How could the baby be so little?

Then Charlie, sounding drowsy, said, “Yes, I think the baby weighs about two and a half pounds. She’s a fine baby, though. They’ve named her Rebecca Jesswyn.”

“Wait a minute! What? You said her name is Fairlight Suzanne.”

Charlie started laughing. “The first one is Fairlight Suzanne; the second one is Rebecca Jesswyn.”

I gasped in amazement. Twins? Wow! No wonder Suzanne was so big! “We’ll be up later today,” I told Charlie. “I can’t wait to see them. Twins! The first in all our big family.”

I was too excited to sleep any longer but I crawled back in bed to tell Charles the good news. Before I could even get started he began laughing. “You know your brother Charlie and you know what day this is–April Fool!”

This was before cell phones so I couldn’t call as we traveled up the road. All the way to Clarkesville I jabbered with our two children about the twin cousins they would see soon. “Or maybe no baby yet,” Charles kept throwing into our conversations.

I guess you could call it an April Fool’s joke turned upside down. Because Suzanne indeed did have tiny identical twin girls. Everyone except Suzanne herself was astounded that there were two babies, even the doctor. He had assured Suzanne over and over that there was only one heartbeat. She argued with him that she felt more than one set of legs kicking her and that she was positive there were two heads. She says the doctor just shook his head. She began to wonder if she was having a deformed baby until just before midnight on March 31 when the doctor in amazement delivered a second little girl.

Fairlight and Rebecca have been a huge blessing to their immediate family, their parents and an older and younger brother, as well as to our big extended family. Our children loved having a baby each to hold when we visited. Over the years the girls enjoyed teasing their aunts and uncles by switching names and playing each other’s identity. Now both have families and are imaginative and enthusiastic teachers. At one time they taught in the same high school and found it handy every now and then to switch classes, confusing their students.

As you might imagine, this is my favorite April Fool story, the one that really is true. Wonderful things do happen! On March 31 “our” twins turned 47. Happy Birthday, Fairlight and Rebecca!

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