Category Archives: Momma

I Love the Landscape Because It Is So Sincere. It Never Cheats Me.

“I love nature, I love the landscape, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me. It never jests. ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

from-townsend-to-cove-w

Taken between Townsend, TN and Cades Cove, TN

Most of you know me as the BamaSteelMagnolia. And, there is a reason for that. For most of my life I’ve lived in Sweet Home Alabama, a state I love from the top of my head to the tip of my toes.

I’ve gone to school here, married one guy from here (big mistake, but not because he was from Alabama), birthed a child here, divorced here, remarried a Tall & Handsome southwestern cowboy here and battle twice non-smoking lung cancer here. I’ve lived more decades than I care to share here in this state I am passionate about.

In other words, I’ve done a lot of living, losing, loving and everything in between in this place I call home – Alabama.

What you may not know: on a cold January morning I was born to two young people in an East Tennessee hospital as the Great Smoky Mountains stood silently in the background, an ever present sentinel in my early life and childhood.

cominghome-day-1-7-1954

I’m the little head peaking out in the crook of Momma’s arm. My gorgeous parents.

So, what does that mean and why am I telling you this?

Well, it’s been a rough week for me and my family as we’ve watched the Smokies and Gatlinburg burn.

I don’t care how long you’ve been gone, it’s not easy to watch the places of your childhood and childhood memories, and the places of your ancestry go up in smoke. It’s a helpless feeling. And, if you still have family living in those parts, the helpless feeling is compounded. I can’t even begin to tell you what I feel to know these fires were started by arsonists.

I spent about the first 12 years of my life in or around East Tennessee with the exception of a year or so when I was two. My daddy worked in the engineering department of an aircraft company in the Dallas area at that time. But, you just don’t take a mountain boy out of the mountains and put him on the flat plains of Texas, and, so, back to Tennessee we went.

We eventually ended up in the central Alabama area and I think it stuck for a couple of reasons. Daddy worked for an engineering company started by brothers who were University of Tennessee grads (where Daddy started his college career), the terrain is similar to East Tennessee – we all ended up living on this little mountain top in Alabama because it reminded us of our roots – and the people here in Alabama are 24K gold.

But, oh, the childhood memories I have of those times and places in East Tennessee.

Walks with my Papaw as he pointed out the name of each tree. Watching him have his faithful hunting dog do all kinds of tricks for cornbread. MaMaw and Papaw letting us dig up peanuts or pick some cotton from the garden. This gal from the burbs thought she was a real farm hand then.

Weekend trips to the mountains taking in the fall colors, wading in the cold mountain streams, picnics with the grandparents, and my Aunt Ruthie’s house in Kinzel Springs. You had to walk over a swinging foot bridge to get to her house. It sat backed up against the mountain and even in the summer time, that house never seemed hot. As a matter of fact, back then, those mountains always seemed like the coolest place on earth to be.

It was just a “hop, skip and a jump” over twisting, hairpin two lane mountain roads to Cherokee, NC where we could see a Cherokee chief. My paternal grandmother was originally from Western North Carolina and it was said she was part Cherokee. She looked the part, but we’ve never confirmed the ancestry.

My PaPaw worked at the Little River Lumber Company back in the day. He was a clerk in the company store. My cousins tell me there’s a picture of him in the train museum in Townsend. He was also the fill-in mail carrier for Cades Cove and Daddy went on that route a time or two with PaPaw.

That’s my roots on the “quiet side of the Smokies”, my Daddy’s side. My little Momma is a different story.

Several years ago I started the journey into genealogy and it’s a journey I’ve loved and wished I had started sooner. Once I jokingly told Momma she was a half-breed. She was startled at first and then I laughed and explained.

Tennessee is divided into West Tennessee, Middle Tennessee and East Tennessee. Any good Tennessean knows that. Mom’s ancestry is Middle Tennessee/East Tennessee (on her mother’s side). Half and half.

And, it is that East Tennessee ancestry on Momma’s side that carries me back to Gatlinburg.

You see William Ogle and Martha Jane Huskey Ogle are my 5th great-grandparents. Martha Jane Huskey Ogle’s cabin was the first house built in what is now known as Gatlinburg. William and Martha had 7 children and I descend through two of their sons, William “Black Bill” Ogle and Isaac “Shucky” Ogle.

A few years back I went to Edgefield, SC to get a copy of William Ogle, the father’s will. That type of documentation is like the holy grail for a genealogist. The Ogle family was living in Edgefield and William went to Tennessee to prepare for the family to move. He laid up provisions and he cut and notched timbers to build a log cabin for his family. He went back to Edgefield to get his family for the move back to Tennessee, but before they could leave South Carolina, William fell ill and died.

Martha Jane didn’t go to Tennessee at first, but she eventually did and family members helped raise the cabin using the timbers William had prepared.

It was the first house built in White Oak Flats, a place that would become known as Gatlinburg. Over time other families moved in. You saw the formations of clans with names that pop up in my family tree. If you throw a rock into a crowd of locals there’s a good chance I’m distantly related to them – including a famous country songbird who shares a common ancestor with me named Henry Bohannon, my 5th great grand-father.

My family was founding fathers of an area I watched decimated by a historical fire this past week. I never thought I would live to see anything like this. I hope I never have to see anything like this again and I pray for more rain to come their way.

I listened and watched as I saw names like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Chimney Tops, Clingman’s Dome, Newfound Gap, Wear’s Valley and others threatened and burned. And, each time my heart broke.

For me, it’s not only pride in the pioneer spirit of my ancestors, but it’s also love of the location and area. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. When I go into the mountains, my heart sings and my spirit is refreshed. I feel at home.

Just like the people, this area is resilient. They survived the Great Depression and floods after floods before TVA. It will come back and they will come back. There will be regrowth and rebirth. Mountain folk are good strong people, just like the land around them. They have learned from the land. They need our continued support and prayers.

Thoreau said it best, “I love nature, I love the landscape, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me. It never jests.”

My birthplace is sincerely hurting right now, but it will be a beautiful landscape once again – and the people will be there with it – rejoicing.

© 2016 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Birth, Cades Cove, Central Alabama, Daddy, East Tennessee, East Tennessee Fire, East Tennessee Heritage, Family, Gatlinburg, Gatlinburg Fire, genealogy, Grief, Home, Memories, Momma, Mountains, Nature, Ogle, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day

The Great Vacationless Class, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class.” ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh ~

Mother's Day roses 2013C

This morning while I was in the kitchen fixing Tall & Handsome a cup of coffee for his second birthday in less than a week, he quietly disappeared downstairs. When I came back to the bedroom I knew what he had done…he had gone to the kitchen downstairs where he had secreted these roses for Mother’s Day. There they sat in a vase with a wonderful, beautiful card next to them. That’s a great way  to start a day!

(I know you’re wondering about that “second birthday in a week” thing. A few years ago T & H lost his social security card and unbeknown to us the Social Security Administration changed his birthday by three days! So, now, officially, his birthday is three days earlier than he has celebrated for all of his life. But, once the government tells you when you birthday is, you just say, “yes, sir!” No arguing, regardless what your birth certificate says…) But, that is definitely a different story for a different time…

The last few Mother’s Days have been hard around here. T & H lost his mom in March 2011. I lost my beloved Aunt LaRue in June of 2012 so, this is my first Mother’s day without her.

Miss an aunt on Mother’s Day? Yes, she was so much more than an aunt. Friend, big sister, second mom sometimes, travel companion, late night phone companion (I can’t tell you how many place over the world she accidently called trying to call me…they always loved her Southern Tennessean accent and hated for her to hang up), fellow autoimmune warrior and the list could go one…

And, she was Mom’s last living sister. So, I know this Mother’s Day is hard for her, too. So alike in many ways and so different in many other ways, but you could tell they were definitely sisters. They were the oldest and the youngest.

But, I am blessed to have my Momma still with me this year.

Today’s quote stuck a note of familiarity with me. I am a mom and a step-mom; I have worked out side the home, and been a stay at home mom or as Anne Lindbergh said, a “housewife”. I prefer the term homemaker.

I’ve always said being a mom is the hardest, most important job in the world. As the home goes, so goes a nation…or so “they” say…

At this stage in my life, I feel like the filling in the Oreo…I’m in the middle. I can reflect on moms before me and moms coming up in today’s culture behind me. The common feature good moms of all generations share is: unconditional love and devotion for their kids.

I have a sweet young friend who is the mother of three precious young girls. My friend in her own right is talented, sweet, beautiful…an awesome person. She is like the daughter I would like to have had. When I see her girls, well, I know what an awesome mom she is. She is doing a great job! I know she has many vactionless days…but, she delights in her children…and I delight in her sweet presence…

My beautiful step-daughter is a single mom. She works incredibly long hours. And, she devouts equally long hours to her kids, supporting their endeavors and being a great mom. Yes, she is part of the vacationless class, but I know she wouldn’t trade her kids for one day of vacation. Knowing her, she’s find a way to arrange a vacation day with the kids…

Juanita, Korrine & LaRue

When I look at each of these three awesome ladies, I know how young they were and from my place in time I can look back and see what wonderful, self-sacrificing moms they are and were. And each one of them had a profound effect on my life…mainly by loving me and believing in me.

The first beauty on the left is my sweet little Momma. She raised three daughters. One still lives at home and has profound disabilities. Mom has had many vacationless days in her life. But, she impressed upon us to be classy, yet have our own brand of spirit and spunk. When the ex walked out she encourage me to move on and not let what had happened to hold me back. When I found T & H, she recognized his qualities and said he was head and shoulders over a certain someone from my past.

She encouraged individuality, creativity and along with Daddy, education. Both my parents are voracious readers, so I had my own “library” before I could walk. We were never “baby talked” and my parents swear I started talking in sentences. T & H loves the fact that he has a wife that not only knows how to cook, but does it well…and he owes that to my Momma who found a way to teach me to cook and make it fun. Momma was the “artistic” sister.

Momma was like a lioness when it came to her “babies”…she would have fought the devil himself for her kids. So, any “time off” Daddy could talk her into…she has deserved.

My Aunt Korinne is the second beauty in the picture. She was an elementary school teacher and every little boy fell in love with her. She was a single mom in an era when there weren’t many around and there was very little support for single moms. That is really vactionless times! She had a son she was devoted to, yet she had time for her oldest niece…from the day I was born. I spent at least two weeks every summer with her once I was about middle school age. We had great fun. She took me to see Gone with the Wind at a theater, took me to my first pizza parlor, stayed up late night talking to me like a best friend, encouraged my writing and warned me about the wrong type of guy…I wish I had paid more attention on that last topic…

Of course, the last beauty in the picture is my Aunt LaRue.

I tend to agree with Anne Lindbergh. She seems to have been a wise woman. If you are a mom there are carpools, fevered headed, meals, groceries, laundry, diapers, school and everything else that goes along with raising your child. Even then you will never stop worrying, never stop caring and never stop loving…even after they are grown…

No, there is no vacation from being a Mom…ever…we are the great vacationless class…but, we have really big pay-off…

It’s called love…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Aunt LaRue, Aunts, Children, Family, Kids, Momma, Mother's Day, Mothers, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Roses, Tall & Handsome

Gerber Daisy, by Beverly Hicks Burch

gerber daisy

While my little Momma has been sick and in the hospital Daddy and I have had tending and watering duty for Mom’s various green thumb projects. She’s been sick for some time now, so there’s not quite as many as there normally would be. Tall & Handsome and I made sure she had a few herbs for the deck nearest to the upstairs kitchen. So, we brought her mint and basil.

Daddy has shuttled back and forth from the house and hospital until Mom could come home.

The Gerber Daisy was looking sort of puny with a lot of dead leaves, but I promised Daddy if we kept it watered it would perk up. Sure enough in a few days there were new green leaves and beautiful, happy, bright red blossoms.

They were also shouting, “Shoot me! I’m beautiful!”

So, I obliged…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Alabama, Backyards, Daddy, Family, Flowers, Gerber Daisy, Horticulture, Momma, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants, Tall & Handsome

Picture of the Day

Momma’s been taking pictures again…this time of Day Lilies…

Mom's Day Lily

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Filed under Day Lilies, Momma, Photography

Another Morning in Northeast Alabama, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Another Morning in Northeast Alabama

By Beverly Hicks Burch

It’s been about a month since I first posted the pictures my little Momma, Juanita Hicks, took on a very early February morning. She had been out snapping pictures on a crisp, cold morning with a digital camera Daddy had bought for her some time back.

Well, last night I had a friend over. As we were designing a quilt for her on my new EQ6 software, my cell phone rang. The minute it rang I knew it had to be Momma or Daddy. ESP? Nope. When family calls my ring tone is “Sweet Home Alabama” :). (What else would THE BamaSteelMagnolia™ deem worthy for her family?)

Momma was excited…and she had a right to be. She had been out again early yesterday morning taking more sunrise pictures…and they are breathtaking. Just to refresh memory, Momma and Daddy live on a little mountain northeast of Birmingham.

You can tell from the pictures the seasons are changing. Just last weekend we “sprung” forward to daylight savings time. I’m sure that affected the lighting a bit…making ol’ Sol at a different position in the sky, thus giving a different effect. That is the beauty of our glorious seasons…they’re wondrous and different.

Earlier this week I wrote a little about small miracles in a blog called Lonesome Dove. Momma and her pictures are another example of those little miracles we can find on a daily basis with astounding surprise. If you recall any classical music history you’ll remember one of the masters, Beethoven, was deaf when he created some of his greatest work. When you look at Momma’s photography I want you to keep in mind the fact that a few years ago she was diagnosed with macular degeneration…a condition that could eventually cause her to loose her vision.

That makes these beautiful pictures all the more special, wondrous and, yes, miraculous….

Hope you enjoy another sunrise on a northeast Alabama mountain top…

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

Sunrise 4 on Simmon's Mountain 03 11 09

Sunrise 2 on Simmon's Mountain 03 11 09

Sunrise on Simmon's Mountain 03 11 09

Sunrise 3 on Simmons Mountain -3 11 09

© 2009 Juanita Hicks Photography. All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Macular Degeneration, Momma, Photography, Sunrise