BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL #24 In the springtime

copy-cropped-cropped-homeplace.jpg                                    (Homeplace from a painting by Yvonne Baker Hall)

As I remember Banner Mountain in the springtime, I think of how the apple blossoms and plum blossoms greeted me as I returned from school. I might not have noticed the fresh blooms in the orchard as I left the house to walk up the trail to the Banner School. But always on my return, the orchard welcomed me back home from a day of “readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmetic” and playing with my friends.

Yvonne & Freeda Baker

Yvonne & Freeda Baker

Yvonne and I at the homeplace, standing between the daffodils and the lilac bush. With two years difference in our ages, we were inseparable. Mama said that when I started to school that Yvonne was very lonely. She’d go outside and call for our dog, named Rusty. “Here, Rust! Here, Rust!” In a couple of years, though, Yvonne joined me on the walk to school. As time went by, Rust met his fate although I don’t recall when or how he died. Another dog named Fuzzy came into our lives, and he was allowed to go with us to school. He waited around for us until school was out and he hurried along as we headed back home.  At the close of school for the summer when certificates were given to those completing the eighth grade, Fuzzy received a certificate, too. I don’t know how much Fuzzy learned but he was well-behaved and friendly to all.

The lilacs, the daffodils, and the orchard’s pink and white blooms were such a pleasant sight–the memory of which I still cherish from long-ago spring-times on Banner Mountain. ~~Freeda Baker Nichols

Bluebird

the bluebird flies purposefully

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 23 Birds

Birds of many colors
spread your wings to fly
upward to the treetops
on up into the sky.
Birds with sweetest voices
sing now across the way
begin a happy melody
in every heart today.

© Freeda Baker Nichols
redbirdMrs. RedbirdDowny WoodpeckerOld-world FinchBlack capped chickadeeTufted Titmouse - 2
bluebirddoveDSC_0308 (7)cropped-dsc_0187-21.jpgrobin-- cold morning - 1Eagle at Banner Mt.bluebird on rain gaugewoodpecker in flight

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL–School Days#22

Our schoolhouse at Banner Mountain was a white building with two rooms. In one room a teacher taught first grade through fourth grade. In the other room, another teacher taught fifth through the eighth grade.
Four of my older siblings are shown in this picture which was taken before I started to school. This photo is the only one I have of the Banner School.


(Banner School, about 1937. Mrs. Ola Griggs
the teacher, seated at end of second row.
In front row is my brother, Billy, 4th from
left. Another brother, Aaron is seated in 3rd row
behind the teacher and to her right. My sister,
Merle, is in the 4th row, the 4th person from the right.
My brother, Dean, is the dark haired boy in the
back row, 5th from the right.)

My siblings and I walked about a quarter mile to school. We walked along a trail through the woods, carrying our lard-pail lunch buckets. What am I saying? There was no such word as lunch back then. Not in my vocabulary. The lard buckets with handy little bails were dinner buckets. At night, our mealtime was called supper.

The bucket at left is the container my mother used to pick blackberries. I still have this bucket along with the 8-pound lard tin that was also my mother’s.  Our lunch pails were only half that size. My lunch always tasted good, especially the fried chocolate pies.~~Freeda Baker Nichols
Chocolate pie - 1 (2)

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL #15

The Tomato Hole was a pool of water in a little branch that ran through our pasture and across the road a short distance from our house.  The water was deep enough for us kids to swim. This swimming hole got its name from the tomato patch our dad planted each spring. While I never thought about it when I was small, we had our very own swimming pool right there at Banner Mountain. Surrounded by nature. Along with tomatoes growing nearby, delicious Muscadines hung on vines on the banks of the branch. Pines and cedars, oaks, wild cherry trees, and maples made up the forest.  Privet bushes shaped like umbrellas popped up everywhere.  When in bloom they were covered in tiny flowers.

Not only did we swim, we also caught “crawdads”. Frog eggs and tadpoles were abundant and exciting to find. And we loved playing with frogs.

frog.jpg

My cousin and I once thought my younger sister was about to drown when she was trying to get away from a snake. She tried climbing up the bank and kept sliding back into the water. We reached for her hands and helped her up the bank. Heroically, we “saved” her. I don’t remember if we told our parents, and if we didn’t, it might have been because we feared they’d forbid us to ever swim again at the Tomato Hole. And that would have been a tragic end to a magical part of our childhood. For sure!

© Copyright, Freeda Baker Nichols

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 14

BOOKS

Books have always been important to me. I still have a children’s book my first grade teacher gave me as a gift. “The Little Red Hen” I loved that story.

When I was about thirteen years old, a sweet neighbor lady gave me the gift of a young-adult novel. “Mimi’s House Party,” by Anne Pence Davis. It was my first real book. I wish I still had that book but I have no idea what happened to it. A few years ago, I ordered a copy of it from Amazon. But it came without the attractive dust jacket. It came as a used book from a library. Very plain without the jacket. Glancing through the story, I can’t say I recall even one line or one scene in the novel. I do recall being happy to have a book of my very own.

mimi's-house-party

Time went by . . .  I grew up out there on Banner Mountain. My older siblings left home to seek their fortune. The day came when I married and left my beloved homeplace, too. Said “So long for now” to my most wonderful parents and joined my husband, the man of my dreams, in his travels with the Air Force, his career choice.

Years went by . . .  each of our four children was born in a different state. When my husband retired from the Air Force, we returned to Arkansas and settled down not very far from Banner Mountain.

In 2012, I wrote my very own first novel.  My younger sister, an artist, painted the cover. One of my daughters helped me choose the title and she and my other daughter proofread and critiqued for me. Also my critique group offered many good suggestions. Creating and publishing this book has been an amazing adventure. Because I self-published, it’s not yet on Amazon. But it may be ordered directly from me. It may be ordered here.

Call of the Cadron

My novel is a Christian Romance. It’s family-oriented. I’ve had fun writing and publishing it. I hope readers find it worthy of their time spent in reading it. I’d say it’s just right for a rainy day read to lift your spirit.

Whether you order it or not, I appreciate you as a follower of my blog.  Bloggers need readers, just as authors do. Watch for my next installment of Banner Mountain Girl. 🙂