Contributed by Columnist Fannie Moore
A few days ago, Hubby and I decided to go to Mitcham’s Peach Orchard near Ruston to get peaches for the freezer. We had not been there in several years, but since our regular source of peaches did not produce this year, we planned to go back to the Mitcham Farm.
It so happened that same morning, we saw Rick Rowe’s story on the flags flying in Homer. It also happened this was on the road we usually took to the peach orchard, so we thought this would be an ideal trip, providing a change of scenery to enjoy along the way.
The 550 flags are displayed at the former Gladney farm, which is now the home of Dr. Sam Abshire and wife, Camille. The lovely white house sits on a hill with its spacious yard slanting down to meet a pond at the bottom.
There, blowing in the morning breeze, in all their glory, stood the rows of beautiful flags, in neat, straight rows. (And on our return trip, there were people out by the road, taking pictures of the flags.)
If you want to see a magnificent display of the red, white and blue banners, simply travel to Homer and take LA 146. It is just a short distance from town and would certainly be worth the drive.
We marveled at the flags, reminding us of the display at Sarepta a few years ago, erected by Coach Tony Mullins, which he provided for several years for people to enjoy. Then we continued on our journey to the peach orchard.
We drove slowly, enjoying the beautiful countryside. After crossing Lake Claiborne, we saw acres of green pastures, interspersed among acres of pine forests. There were several small streams and farm ponds along the way, adding to the landscape. The terrain was hilly, and became more so as we got closer to the orchard.
There were many abandoned houses along the way with overgrown weeds and bushes. It saddened me to think of the people that had lived there, making homes for their families. What happened to the children and grandchildren? Just like in so many other rural areas, the occupants had probably passed on and the children chose to move away for jobs and a better way of life. I tried to imagine what they did to make a living, and concluded that the way of the small family farm was no longer viable and therefore there was no way to earn a living for the families.
As we got closer in to Ruston, there were many beautiful new houses sitting on the hills among the tall pines, with lovely landscaping. One could surmise there were children and active families here as swing sets and other toys indicated this.
We soon arrived at our destination, purchased our peaches and began our trip back toward Homer. When we got in town, we came upon a truck holding watermelons and cantaloupes for sale. We stopped and made a purchase, our first melons of the year. Seeing all those watermelons, both red and yellow, reminded me of the days as a child, when we had an abundance of them growing every year. We had all we wanted to eat, and probably ate some every day, but Daddy also sold watermelons in town, along with butter beans, peas, tomatoes and other vegetables.
At that time of my life, I could never imagine a time when I would be one of those women who purchased fresh vegetables instead of going out and gathering my own.
But, time changes things and that is one of the changes.
I am thankful, however, for those hard working farmers who continue to make these available for us.
And, tomorrow, I will be enjoying that watermelon even more. And I might even be peeling those gorgeous peaches.