A Look Back: Preparing for Fall with Verna Mae

Verna Mae Slone is a well-loved writer here at Hindman Settlement School.  You may know her for her work What My Heart Wants To Tell.  In the archives we have several files related to Verna Mae, but just last week I came across some that give us a closer look into the mind of this Knott County treasure.

Over three decades ago, Verna Mae Slone had a column in the Troublesome Creek Times called “Now & Then.”  She shared all the wit, wisdom, and life lessons that a mountain woman could have in her weekly column.  We are lucky to have a small collection of those and I thought I would share one here today.  Below is an excerpt from Verna Mae Slone’s “Now & Then,” published October 6, 1982.  The article was titled “Don’t flick your Bic by dried flowers.”

“We sure are having an early fall and that speaks of a cold winter.  I haven’t seen enough wooly worms to get their opinion yet, but the crickets sure are singing the lonesome cold winter song and the shucks on the corn are thick and stiff, a sure sign if I ever saw one.  

Our hills are so beautiful it makes my heart ache.  I wish I had some way of capturing this beauty so as to share it with those who can’t see it.  The many colored leaves on the hillside reminds me of how much they are like sin.  Seen from afar, they are so pretty, yet up close, seen one at a time, they are all wormy, rotten, ugly, wrinkled, and dying.

Soon folks will be gathering the dried grasses, goldenrod tassels, wood vine, cattails, reeds, etc., for dried flower arrangements to brighten their homes this winter…

… You can also dry almost all the garden flowers.  Cut when in bloom, tie in small bunches and hang them with their heads down in a cool dark place where the air can circulate.  Another way is to preserve them in glycerin and water.  Borax can also be used to make the stay pretty for a long time.And all the children know how to melt candles and dip the flower heads in and let dry.  Almost everyone has pressed flowers between the leaves of large heavy books.  Glue them to a piece of paper and they make pretty bookmarks, placemats, or cards.  Why not put one in your next letter to a shut in friend or someone who lives in a place where they can’t see these flowers growing outside?

Crab apples are pretty in a dish, will stay green for weeks and smell wonderful.  And many of the so-called weeds that grow in the garden or yard, make pretty houseplants and many will grow and stay green all winter.  Some will only last for a few weeks but they give a look of summer on those cold winter days.

Some of you will say, why go to all this trouble when you can buy a bunch of plastic flowers for a few pennies.  Well, everyone to his own taste.  I love best what God created to make this old world beautiful.”