Memories of Old Country Stores

Someone posted a photo of an old country store on Facebook that reminded me of two stores that you just don’t find many of anymore. They are the old wood frame buildings with a wooden screen door. I guess if I ran across one these days, I’d probably feel like I was in a movie.

The last one I remember was in the 1990’s. We had hiked a trail in the Big Thicket called The Woodlands Trail. On our way home we stopped at a little store in a small community by the name of Dallardsville, if I remember correctly. It felt like we were sharing our childhood with our three sons as we went up to the door and went inside to get sodas and snacks. I usually got a root beer after hiking the Thicket.

The other store was in a tiny town by the name of Fred. If Fred wasn’t on a hill you could probably see the back of the sign that says ‘Fred’ on the southbound side of the highway while at the same time, standing next to the sign that says ‘Fred’ on the northbound side. I loved going to the store in Fred to get the Sunday paper when my grandparents lived up that way back in the late 60’s and on into the mid-70’s.

This was a really cool old store. Of course, the floor was made of wide wooden planks. The owners had a cat that hung out inside the store, just like it was a normal thing. I guess it was. There were comfortable chairs up front, close to the counter so that customers who were of a mind to could sit and visit with the owners while the cat listened in. Several of my friends have heard me tell of the day I went there with my grandma and we sat in those chairs and shared a bag of pork rinds while she visited. I can’t hardly eat pork rinds now without thinking of that little store in Fred with the comfortable chairs, the wooden floors and the cat.

You know, next time I head up that way I think I’ll see if that store is still there and stop by for a visit. I’ll have to get some pork rinds while I’m there.

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Hiking the Kirby Trail

My husband and I took a walk on the Kirby Trail today. It isn’t too far from home and it isn’t too long, especially if you walk the inner loop (less than 2 miles). It was a little warm, but not too hot, and that is what I’ve been waiting for. Here’s a short report on what we saw.

Right off we noticed a lot of undergrowth has really thickened up. This trail has a variety of trees including pine, cypress, oak, water tupelo, magnolia, beech and many more. Hurricane Rita took out a lot of tall trees back in 2005, so the under-story plants are getting more light and growing quite well. I was happy to see many smaller trees that will one day be tall trees. Nice recovery.

It’s muscadine time! My grandpa used to make wine from those grapes. If I had my tomatoes canned (the ones waiting in the freezer) I might see if there are any muscadines at the farmer’s market next weekend. Jelly would be nice. Maybe I can get those tomatoes done this week…

Now for critters. We saw a Blue-tailed Skink. Well, that’s what we’ve always called them. They have stripes and a blue tail. I think they are really pretty. When I looked for a photo, I found this article, which is where I learned that when I see one with a blue tail, it’s a young ‘un. And technically they are called Five-lined Skink.

Also, saw a brown frog, or toad, that was about the color of the dirt. My husband wanted to know how on earth I could see him? He moved when he was in front of me, or I probably wouldn’t have. There were birds and evidence of squirrels (pine cone bits all over the place).  And armadillos have been tearing up the ground in search of groceries.

Because of the drought, the sloughs were dry. You can tell they have been dry for a while, too, because vegetation that wouldn’t normally be there is beginning to grow among the cypress knees. Village Creek is way down. If someone were to try to canoe  through the part of it we saw, they would have to carry the canoe quite a bit because of low water and logs.

Because of the scarcity of water there was a scarcity of mosquitoes. I only had one buzzing around me. It was probably the only mosquito in the whole Big Thicket. I say that because I’m mosquito bait. My husband said if there was one mosquito and me, I’d be found.

The pine beetles have been busy and there is a lot of damage from them. They cause the bark to separate from the tree then it falls off and the tree dies. Everything has to eat though. We’ve seen this before and it will be OK.

Overall, we really enjoyed our walk. There is just one thing that drops my jaw. I picked up two Marlboro cigarette butts on this beautiful trail. We passed by the burned out remains of a forest on our way to the Thicket, plus part of the Turkey Creek Trail, which connects to this one just opened back up two days ago. It had been closed because of fire damage this past spring. It’s not like forest fires, burn bans and drought haven’t been in the news lately around here. What knuckle-head – or two – would risk burning down the forest by smoking while walking in it?