I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. Psalm 121: 1-2
This past September 18, I met with a friend for lunch. We go back over twenty years to an awards event where Debra was chosen to read her memoir about making éclairs with her Jewish grandmother. Then, I recalled my Holiness Pentecostal granny, the countless biscuits and pies she baked and served, and longed to honor Granny as Debra blessed her grandmother.
October 9, three Mondays later, I drove south on I75 for a book tour in Kentucky and West Virginia. I cried while listening to news reports of the number of Jews/Israelis and Americans murdered by Hamas. I prayed for their families, and called Debra to confirm she and her household were safe at home in Michigan, New York City and Chicago.
Her husband answered. “Yes, we’re home. The kids are safe. Debra’s on a phone call. I’ll tell her you called. Thank you for thinking of us,” he said.
“I’m driving to my sister’s house in Kentucky. I’ll call after I arrive,” I replied.
“I’ll tell Debra.”
At last, the Appalachian mountain range opened her arms in comfort and joy. Somewhere within the vast beauty of those ancient hills, my sister Patty and her husband Mike awaited my arrival in a town named Prestonsburg.
Not far from their home, a serpentine drive within historic Hatfield-McCoy territory led to Matewan, West Virginia, my birthplace. I’d planned to save the best for last in my week-long book tour.
My sister and brother-in-law set a table with pinto beans, fried potatoes, fried corn, coleslaw, and a pone of corn bread, Patty’s specialty.
Oh, the perfect meal to soothe a hungry traveler’s soul.
And so Patty and Mike fed me every evening and morning with tempting scents such as fried apples and pot roast. And treats like Mike’s zucchini bread.
Each day, save Thursday when a migraine headache usurped my plans, Patty printed the route to my destination. There, in libraries, bookstores, and Appalachian Lost & Found in Matewan, I sowed seed with copies of Matewan Garden Club.
“What’s the book about?” a Matewan teenager asked.
“Even in our most desperate times, we’re never alone,” I said
Before dark, I parked my car on Patty and Mike’s hill and carried my Shinola book bag inside their house.
To sustain my positive spirit, I did not immerse my mind in the news reporting the Israel and Hamas war. Rather, I looked to the hills surrounding me. I read King David’s Psalms. “They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion which cannot be removed, but abideth forever.” Psalm 125:1.
Dear Reader, in those seven days driving into, through and from Appalachia, I witnessed His promise of seasons. Again, October turned the mountains from green to gold, orange, and russet.
As in the blessed season Debra’s grandmother taught her to make éclairs.
Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@ gmail.com