Out On The Mudline
by W. P. Sissell
As I walked through the kitchen the little tape player was filling the room with sounds of that beautiful old hymn, “Silent Night.” Nannette was watching over her oven that’s cooking banana nut bread—it does smell good—and filling the air with the words of the song. I do believe that she has developed a case of Christmas fever. I’ve noticed, for the past several weeks, the door of the extra bedroom being closed most of the time. That happens almost every year.
All that carries me back many years in an extension of a trip that the two of us took last week—just before that inch of rain we got last week. We rode down to your town then out 32 to 152 and went over the mountain (hill) ridge that extends eastward along the south bank of O’tuckalofa. We were able to get down to what’s left of the old Mud Line.
May Apple Glen
As we came down the north side of that ridge (I didn’t coast to see if my suburban would go as far as my bicycle would) we passed the sign, Reservoir Boundary. That was our south boundary one time. Just past that sign there’s a culvert now. The culvert replaced a little banistered bridge. Just to the west of that bridge there was a little flat glen which was always, in the spring, covered with May Apple plants. What a sight that was when they were all in bloom.
It was hard to determine the former location of the old orange colored barn nor the one time home of Mr. Cottoner, then the Littletons and later, Sam Adams. The Good Lord has attended well to protecting that sloping land with young trees. I wonder, and I may go back and look, about the rocks that were the supports for the foundation of that old, old dog-trot house. As we followed the road we found the place where we had intended to build a home someday. The reservoir took care of those plans—but maybe—just maybe we might get the chance to redeem that whole tremendous hill—it’s the hill from which Shirley McCain and I hauled many loads of sandrock for building purposes—and put a small cabin there.
As we traveled along down the road we passed the place where I turned a tractor over—I didn’t tell Nannette about it again—substituted another about baling hay in that same field. When we got to the old Mud Line we took pictures of the brushy growth where our home and orchard once stood and the condition of the old night pasture which we called “The Flat.”
This morning, as I walked through Nannette’s kitchen and heard that music, I remembered another Christmas of long ago.
A Long Ago Christmas
Dad usually got up first and re-kindled the fires so that the house was fairly warm for the rest of the family. Usually, and this order was varied, we went to the barn and milked or we ate before going to work. This, however, was Christmas morning. As Dad worked at the fire I spied a red wagon with a bunch of “something” (I’m wavering between junk, and stuff but “something” won out) piled on it for I know now how much they cost mom and dad. All that “something” was a Tom Mix cowboy outfit—shirt, pants, cap gun, holster & belt and chaps—many of the things made by mom. But what was that other thing—there was a hat for dad in the wagon. When I gave it to him (he always wore a hat) he said, “No son, that’s your cowboy hat.” What a great Christmas that was!
It is our hope today that you have a great Christmas this year and for the years ahead along with many happy New Years.
You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606, 662-563-9879 or firstname.lastname@example.org