Last Hurrah of Summer in the Shoals
By Mary Carton
Summer is winding down. Corn is in, soybeans are being combined and wheat planted over the stubble of both. What little cotton we have in the area has been defoliated and picking is starting. Usually we have a killing frost in the middle of October. This year it happened Halloween night when temperatures dipped down into the middle 20s. The last Sunday in October, Mom and I ate outside at one of our favorite restaurants when the temperature was in the 80s. The next weekend, temperatures ranged from highs in the 50s to lows in the 20s.
Before the killer frost hit Halloween night, I pulled all of my larger green Cherokee purple tomatoes for storage. We had more than 5 inches of rain that ruined any with a hint of pink on them. While wrapping them in newspaper before storing in a cool spot, it looks like I may have wasted my time. A lot of the green ones are starting to show black spots. I was hoping to have fresh tomatoes into February again this winter. I pulled three nice peppers from the one and only plant I had. My first of the season. It’s a good thing that I didn’t have to depend on my garden in order to survive this year.
Now that I’m feeling better after my bout with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, I’ve been busy trying to reclaim my yard cutting out hackberries, privet and blackberry vines out of flower beds around the garden.
I did take a little time to attend a concert by the legendary founder of Fame Recording Studio Rick Hall on mandolin and Hugh Banks on guitar at the Fame Girls Ranch Roundup. They were followed by the band that Hugh is a member of called “The KGB.” Mr. Hall has been playing the mandolin since he was 6 years old and played several songs from an album called “From Freedom Hills to Muscle Shoals.” Hugh went by Fame Recording and picked up a copy of the CD for me in exchange for some photographs I took of Mr. Hall and him. I didn’t get to go to day two of the Roundup featuring Mac McAnally, the seven-time CMA Musician of the Year, as the headliner. It is a yearly fundraiser for the ranch that was the former home of Hall and his wife, Linda. It became part of the Alabama Sheriffs Boy and Girls Ranch system in October 2009.
I borrowed this information from their website: “The Boys and Girls Ranches of Alabama have been caring for children from unfortunate circumstances within the state of Alabama for over 48 years. The Ranches have been home to more than 3,000 children. The program is constructed to provide a Christian family atmosphere for these boys and girls. Special times for family devotionals and pledging allegiance to the flag are held daily to encourage respect for both God and country. Each of the Ranches have chapels where the children and house parents attend midweek and Sunday services as well as churches in their local communities.”
“Each child has chores and duties to help teach him responsibilities and the value of the work ethic. The children participate in areas of livestock care, farm work, lawn care and vehicle maintenance in addition to keeping their rooms and houses clean. The program is designed to teach these young men and women about responsibility and the value of working and learning new skills.”
Last month, the downtown area of my hometown of Tuscumbia was hit by a tornado. One of the homes built around 1825 called the Pearsall Home, which had survived Sherman’s march to the sea and the tornado of 1874 that destroyed a lot of the town, was hit. A large 180-year-old pecan tree fell on the newer addition and then pushed the older part sideways, so it will have to be torn down.
Next I caught the morning elimination Dragon Boat races on the Tennessee River at McFarland Park in Florence. It is a fundraiser for a teaching elementary school run by the University of North Alabama. I’d never seen the races that allow adults to dress up like Vikings and pirates and other characters. My hospital had two crews in the race. Our crew from surgery came in third overall despite being rammed and overturned by one of the other boats in the afternoon races.
Next up, I take two days of vacation and take a photography trip down the Natchez Trace to Natchez, Mississippi.
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