Category Archives: Neighbors

2015 Day 30: The Tale of the Water Witching

Have you ever heard of a water witching? Do you have any foggy idea of what this means?  Well, in 1978 when we were looking for some property so we could build a house, I certainly had no idea of what this was about or even anyone who did this. Well, let me tell you–I have been there and seen it in action.

We found some property that was pretty close to town but not in a subdivision. We had this idea we wanted to live without neighbors. We wanted to be in the woods. Our kids were excited because they liked the idea of a country life, too. First of all, you need to know that just because you find some property, it doesn’t mean that the said property has modern conveniences-like electricity, cable television, natural gas, sewage, trash pickup or water. Now some of those items are easy to arrange. Electricity was not a really big deal. There was a line pretty close to our land and all the power company had to do was to extend it over the hill to our house. Whew! Natural gas was a no go. No lines in this area. So we went with propane gas. I had never used propane before but my mother-in-law had used it for years. So it was not a big deal. We had to find a propane gas company and get a tank and fill it up and we were in business. Check that off the list! Cable was a no go. We would have to pay for the lines and it made cable out of reach forever. So we did something else. Check that one off. No sewage lines? Just get a sceptic tank and field lines. Check again. Telephone? Ahh-run those lines under the power. Check again. Trash pickup? Well you just put the trash in your truck and take it yourself to the dump. I recycle a lot so we don’t really have much garbage-maybe one bag a week.

Let’s see. What did I not mention? Water. Yep. WATER. The life force for drinking, washing, cooking, flushing——WATER is very important. To run water lines to our house was only a little less than the national debt in 1979. What would we do? At that time, our neighbor and friend, Johnny, stepped up to the plate. “You need a well,” he said. “And I can help you”. How could he help was what I was thinking. He said he would help us on Saturday and we decided on a time. Saturday came and we met at his house. We started walking to the property when he made a little detour. He went to a peach tree and cut off a very specific kind of branch. It was like a capital Y. He told us he would use this peach branch to find where our well should be drilled. I plastered a smile on my face although in my heart I was a total non-believer in his method. Let me say for all of you reading—-this is crazy! He began to move over the property walking slowly and looking at his branch. He told us that when the branch dipped down, he had found a water source. We kept walking and watching. As he neared the place where we planned to build our house, the branch dipped down. It was a trick-I though. He marked the ground and then handed me the stick. He had me walk away from the area and then turn back. Oh my goodness, I felt a tug and the branch dipped down again. Even though I fought the dipping, the branch pulled down. The look on my face must have been priceless because he laughed at me. Then he showed my children how to use the stick to find water.

Well. We have a well at our house. It has been there since 1979 and has provided us with excellent water. And the way we found where to drill was determined by our friend Johnny using the peach tree branch and his skill as water witch. You know, sometimes things happen and you can’t explain it. You just go with it. And thus ends the tale of the water witch!

Day 9: Signs of the Moon

I remember growing up in a quiet little neighborhood. There were about 24 families on our street. I didn’t know all of them. I only knew the ones that had children close to my age that my parents considered appropriate playmates. For example, if the parents drank beer, I was not allowed to play with them. Our neighbors on one side had two girls who were a little younger that I played with.  Our parents were great friends. Our families frequently cooked out together during the summer and early Fall.  The men would cook and talk. The women would sit in the swing and talk while the kids played freeze tag. After dinner, we would catch lightning bugs. We would always save our bugs in old mayonnaise jars. By then, our dinner had “settled” and we would either roast marshmallows on sticks over the coals or eat homemade ice cream.  Sometimes Mrs. W would make a chocolate cake. No one could make a cake that was as good as hers! It was a wonderful evening!

Mr. W  was “the” official griller. My dad was the helper. They would go together to purchase the meat several days before the cook-out. Sometimes we had hamburgers. Sometimes chicken. But my all time favorite was grilled ribs. They were scrumptious! Mr. W was a stickler for perfect ribs. So at the grocery store, he always asked to see the head butcher so he could have exactly the right ribs to cook. My dad didn’t mind the questions. Well-except for one! Mr. W always wanted to know the date the pig was killed. It had to be killed under a specific sign of the moon or he would NOT purchase them! The head butcher at the store we used was from our church and my Dad was always embarrassed by this sign of the moon question. But the butcher generally was able to come up with a date and then Mr. W would decide whether to get the ribs or not. I am not sure if the date was really correct but the men would go with what was said.

When ribs were going to be the  star at the cook-out, the two men would gather in Mr. W’s kitchen to make the sauce. No one was allowed in the kitchen during this time. It was a secret. Then the ribs were massaged and covered with a secret rub. Then they rested in the refrigerator all night. And the special sauce spent the night in the refrigerator so the spices could marry.

The day of the cookout started early.  The two men would head off to the “ice house” to get a block of ice for the ice cream freezer. In those days, our town had an ice house. There were no bags of ice. The men would make the ice cream base and start churning the ice cream. They would drink coffee and take turns turning the handle. Although we made several different flavors of ice cream, vanilla was the most requested. Next the charcoal had to be reduced to the just right kind of coals, before placing the ribs on the grill. The next period of time was critical. The ribs must sweat for a bit so they would be tender. Then came the secret sauce. By this time, all of us kids would be sitting at the picnic table waiting for the feast ahead.

When I was in ninth grade, Mr. W had a massive heart attack and died. I  was so sad for his wife and children and for my dad because they were best friends.  I will always remember him as that gentle soul who loved his family and who had a special place in my heart, too.

And frankly, ribs have never been the same for me! But then it might be because I didn’t check the signs of the moon first!