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Cold brings memories of life on farm

Liberty lore

POSTED: January 21, 2014 11:00 p.m.

Last Tuesday and Wednesday were extremely cold in this area. It was cold enough to kill all the ouside plants.
The official low the morning of Jan. 7 was 15.5 degrees, taken about a mile from our home at the official weather station. The blue dawn flowers still were blooming Jan. 1, but not anymore. Several of our pink and white camellia bushes were in full bloom, but now the flowers are all black and brown. The nandinas still are grinning and showing off their big bunches of bright red berries. I do not think anything bothers them. They are excellent plants to have in beds scattered all over the woods. They are a bright sight in the winter, when other plants are bare.
On Monday night, the wind wreaked havoc on our Liberty oak heritage tree that we set out about 10 years ago. It was a gift from the Hampton Island owners and had grown to about 30 feet tall. A large pine fell and took about 10 feet off the top. This Liberty oak supposedly was grown from an acorn picked up in Midway from the large oaks and grown in a Florida nursery. Heritage trees are expensive. My husband, Gene, pulled the pine off the oak and carefully trimmed the broken parts. Hopefully, it will grow pretty again.
Another pine split our largest fig tree, taking two-thirds of it down to the ground.
That cold weather brought to my mind the ice storm we had in Long County in March 1960, I think it was. I recall putting on Daddy’s large overcoat and going outside in the woods around the log cabin. Boy, how I wish I had a nice camera back then! I looked on the absolutely beautiful winter wonderland and felt the frozen ground crunching under each step I took. The different shapes of the icicles were amazing. All the trees were white with ice and many small saplings, under so much weight covered with ice, were bent over, their tops touching the ground.
Years later, the trees were still bent.
Our electricity was out about three days, but it did not affect us too much. We heated with one fireplace and cooked with wood in the old iron stove. We still had plenty of kerosene lanterns. There certainly were no electric blankets to crawl under when we went to bed, but instead a thick pile of cold heavy quilts!
We could see the frost on the underside of the tin when we looked over our bed in the morning. There were no waterlines to worry about freezing. We just had to make sure we had extra buckets of water inside to heat and thaw the hand pump.
I have several birdfeeders filled with black sunflower seeds and placed so we can watch the birds from the sun porch, where we stay most of the time when we are indoors. We saw many bright-red cardinals coming back to feed and a bunch of little sparrows. One sparrow flew close to the window, and I noticed a clump of feathers or something about half the size of my thumb sticking out from its breast. I could not see well enough to make out what it was. The next day he came back, and it still was there. I have seen him several times and I now have a pair of binoculars ready to see him better if he appears again.
Lucky, our black cat, loves to sleep under the bench near the birdfeeders. A few times during the year, I find a bunch of red, blue or brown feathers in the yards where he had lunch. I wish he would catch some of the numerous squirrels that like to rob the birdfeeders. I dumped some fresh water on top of the solid ice in the bird bath so they could drink.
Gene gets “antsy” when he has to be cooped up inside while it is extremely cold or raining. He loves to be outdoors, building, working on wagons, walking in the woods, tinkering with his tools or just checking things out around the farm. He has been busy the past few months building small bridges in the swamp along his walking trail so he could ride the gator across the little waterways or crosswalk without getting wet. It was a lot of work, but he had made some pretty little bridges.
The morning I am typing this, he once again is going between the small showers of rain to destroy their fancy dam work. I suggested that he write a note and put it on the tree so they could see it.
When I am forced to stay inside, I do a lot of reading and searching on the computer. I never will catch up on reading, as I have about 2,000 books to choose from. I really enjoy the historical-fiction books or novels. I just read “The March” by E. L. Doctorow about the Civil War. When I finished it, I felt as if I had fought the whole war. It begins with Sherman going through Georgia, then South Carolina and North Carolina. Even though it is fiction, it is filled with many true historical happenings. No matter what I read about that war, it still had to be a terrible one for this part of the country.
And then I read “The Damned Don’t Cry” by Harry Hervey, published in 1939. It had been out of print for 40 years but now has been reprinted. It is the story of a little girl growing up in Savannah where the Pirates House now is located. It describes the scenes and history in old Savannah in vivid detail and the areas around it. It was a superb book.
I always enjoy looking at the Liberty County history books again and again. Just the other day, someone asked me if I knew anything about “Sweet Land of Liberty” by Robert Groover, published in 1987. Why, yes, I have almost memorized it as I have looked in it for information so many times. Groover died Feb. 21, 2000, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. It is out of print and hard to find, and if you do it will cost a bundle! However, the Liberty County Commissioners still have a good supply of “Liberty County A Pictorial History,” which sells for $30. This is a fantastic book filled with many pictures and the history on all parts of Liberty County. The cover is a lovely picture of the old Midway Church and the cemetery.  I think this book is one of the county’s best-kept secrets!
Go by the Liberty County Courthouse Commissioners’ office and pick up a couple — one for yourself and one as a gift for someone who wants to know more about the history of the county in which they live.

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