July in the Tennessee Valley

Reader Contribution by Mary Carton
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When we last visited, I was debating about a tomato growing out of my compost bin – whether it could be that bad tomato after four years. Surely not could it? I decided to let it start developing tomatoes and if it was that tomato, it would be taken for a ride and dumped in someone’s goat pen.

Hopefully my brush with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is almost over. It and the doxyclycline I was taking prevented me from getting out in sun and heat for several weeks. I finished up the antibiotic a half week before the start of the Helen Keller Festival.

I took vacation days on Thursday and Friday to volunteer as a photographer. Wednesday evening was the first event, a concert at the First Presbyterian Church, the church the Keller family attended. This church still has the slave balcony on each side of the church where servants were allowed to attend church each Sunday.

Thursday, visits to Ivy Green, the birthplace of Helen Keller, the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art, Tuscumbia Depot and then set up in the back of my truck to photograph the parade. One of our dentists in town was throwing out candy yelling, “I’ll see you in my office next week.” I was standing up in the back of my truck taking pictures and some of the candy landed on the tailgate. It was stolen when I wasn’t looking. Afterwards there was a street concert down town. There was a drone swooping down on the crowd, and it created some stress for some. It appeared again at the Saturday concerts at Spring Park.

Friday, a visit to Glencoe cemetery in the middle of a rock quarry. It is only open during the Helen Keller Festival and is the burial site of some of early Keller family members. Arts and crafts vendors were set up in Spring Park. Several concerts took place at the pavilion built as a WPA project after the great depression. The night ended with one by the band Voodoo Bayou.

Saturday early was a 5K run. I sat up just down the street front the starting line and as I crawled over the tailgate of my truck heard a creak. I checked my jeans and sat up taking pictures. One older gentleman was huffing and puffing as he ran by. I thought to myself that he wasn’t going to make it. Shortly one of the EMT’s brought him out of an ambulance and escorted him to his car. At least he tried. After going home and changing out of my old well-worn favorite jeans into a newer one, I met my fellow high school classmates for breakfast. Then it was back downtown for a car show and the local book store for a local author fair. The rest of the day was spent at Spring Park photographing the bands which came up on stage. Leah Turner and Jo Dee Messina finished up the night. I’m not much of a country music fan, but both ladies had big buses, so they must have been big names in the country music world.

Sunday, the local churches take over the park with a morning service and concerts by Christian bands. The group Kutless finished up the last day of the Helen Keller Festival to a crowded park. For the fourth and fifth, the fireworks at Cherokee and Russellville.

After the festival, I took on the job of finding my garden and yard. A lot of rain produced a big patch of morning glories in my garden. It finally dried up enough to plow the top crust down each side of the row of tomatoes, squash and cucumbers. I removed the hooligan cages and used a stirrup hoe around the plants and put newspaper down. The stirrup hoe is easier for me to use after back surgery. It’s interesting looking back through the old newspapers as they go down. Lot of times I wonder if they ever caught the person who did this or that. For the sports section, Auburn, University of North Alabama and Deshler, my high school, stories go face up. A story about that college in the western middle of the state goes face down. A thick layer of sawdust went on top of the newspapers.

Wheat harvest has started in the area, several weeks late due to the rains. Soybeans are being planted no till over the stubble. Several fields already have a new wheat crop growing. I wonder if it’s too late to plant cantaloupes here? We don’t have a frost until the middle of October usually.

The hummingbirds have really been hitting the feeders the last week or two. I still have a lot of flowers blooming and have noticed them feeding on those also. Judging from the young birds, I’ve had a bumper crop of hatchlings.

A large rat snake made the mistake of crossing the yard recently and was in shreds when I got home. I’m not sure if Patches was cut between the toes on her front foot by one of the other Hooligans or was bitten by the snake. I grabbed her and poured hydrogen peroxide on it and after that, if I even looked at her sideways, she would scattered. I thought it was cleared up and a couple of days later noticed she was licking it again, so it was the purple stuff again. For a while every time I came home she would go into hiding. While she was eating, I would grab her and spray the purple stuff. Then it got where she would grab a mouth full of food and run off. Finally to both of our relief, it cleared up.

The purple stuff of today is not as concentrated as what Dad used on the dairy. It was in a bottle and had a large round brush in the cap. If you got it on you, it would take a long time for the stain to go away. Every once in a while we would have to go to school with purple spots on us where Dad used it on us on our cuts.

The WC Handy Music Festival starts this weekend. It honors native son WC Handy. I’m on vacation, so it will be 10 days of all kinds of music from blues to rock and roll. Several of the churches are planning concerts. I’ll either be sitting in chair enjoying or photographing several of the events.

The tomato plant? It’s going for a long ride.

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