The Preacher for Sunday Dinner

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, Heart of Hollyhill

April 19, 1964

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Holly County. I’m out at Miss Sally’s farm again. I love it when it’s our turn to eat at their house on Sundays. You see, the church people take turns having the preacher on Sundays. They have a sign-up sheet and everything. Of course, some people sign up more than other people and I’m glad one of those is Miss Sally. She nearly always has chicken and dumplings. And never cabbage. Well, once she had this cabbage casserole but she didn’t care if I didn’t eat any. The only thing worse than cabbage is okra. And on top of that, she makes pecan pies.

But the best thing about going to Miss Sally’s house is the animals. I told you about the baby chicks a week or two ago. They’re getting little wing feathers already. Chickens grow up fast. But now she has this little calf. It was a twin. Twin calves don’t happen very often, according to Miss Sally. I guess it’s so rare the cow didn’t think it could happen either and let one of the twin calves nurse but not the other one. So it’s in a pen now and has to be fed with a bottle twice a day. Miss Sally says if you’re going to bottle feed a calf, that calf has to have a name. So the calf is Jill. She let me feed the calf Sunday night before she went back to church. I had to hang on to the bottle tight because if the milk didn’t come out fast enough, the calf was giving the nipple a hard bump with her nose. 

It was chilly today. Miss Sally claimed that was because of redbud winter. The older folks at church are always talking about this winter or that winter. Cold snaps in the spring. If there’s a chill-down in the temperatures or a frost while the redbuds are blooming, the trees get the blame. Like a tree blooming can make it cold! Then there’s dogwood winter, locust bloom winter, linen britches winter, and blackberry winter. If cool spells come along in between those, they think up other names for those “winters.” 

Dad says I shouldn’t laugh about the “old wives tales.” That I can learn a lot from the older folks at church. Could be. Like how to nap in church while pretending to read your Bible. Or how to fold a dollar bill so folks will think maybe you’ve thrown a five or ten in the offering plate. Or maybe how to pretend to be singing without making a whisper of joyful noise. 

But Dad’s right. They do know plenty too. Like how to help when folks are in need or how they show up if something needs doing at the church building. Or how they’re always helping us out by giving us stuff from their gardens. Bad thing is, I’ve seen what they’ve been planting. Lots and lots of cabbage and zucchini. I think we need to give them all strawberry plants.