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Monday, October 17, 2011

No. 76 "The Seasons of My Youth" by Ralph Louis Hancock, born 17 Oct 1928

The Seasons of My Youth
Ralph Hancock

The cold and rainy days of January give way to the signs of spring in February. Everything is bleak - no fish in the sound. Boats swing at their stakes and moorings with no place to go. Suddenly a warm spell, and hard-shell crabs appear at night.

In March, sea mullets begin to appear at the Cape as the warm south winds blow. Early in the morning, very high above, a loon can be seen flying north.

April brings more evidence of spring. More fish are now at the Cape and warm days suggest summer is not far away. Easter is here - new dresses and white shoes for the girls.

It's May now - school will end soon. All summer - an eternity to enjoy before school starts again. I caught some soft-shell crabs just yesterday. Big sea mullets, blue fish, and sometimes a sturgeon appear. Big shark holes mysteriously are found in the nets.

Sometimes hot days - other times fresh north winds reverse the season. The fish are gone - nights are cool. Only for a little while - winds swing to the west and become calm. It's summer again - waters show signs of fish. The clear waters of winter now become colored as when fish are swimming in the sound. The first pony penning of the year is in June. Hog fish in that first hole in Cab's Creek. Maybe someday we'll catch those three mullets, those wild ones up at the next landing. Maybe there will be some shrimp next week, when the tide makes better.

It's the Fourth of July - maybe if we go to the landing, we can see the fireworks from Atlantic Beach.

The warm winds of August blow across the banks and the smell of salt water fills the air. Clamming causes my back to ache, but I feel great after catching my first bushel.

Old Pa wants to catch those mullets at Ephraim's Camp Bay. The grass makes the lead lines roll, but we'll catch more next time. Old Pa's "Ole Ben" had to be bailed out. Someone took the centerboard stick and it's so hard to step the rudder with the sails up.

By the smell of the pines and feel of that northeast wind, it must be September. School begins soon - where did the summer go?

It's October now. I'll get to wear my new shoes and jacket to school.

It's November - and it's better to stay in bed this cold morning. I hear Mama and Daddy starting a fire in that old three-legged stove. The kitchen will be warm soon. That light bread smells good - maybe we have some mullet roe left.

Christmas comes this month. I hope those orders from Montgomery Ward and Sears get here in time for Christmas. The lines are long at the post office window.

The tree is up in the corner of the living room. Those red and green rope-like decorations hang from the ceiling. A big red ball hangs from the center of the room. The smell of Christmas pies make me hungry. I got a cap pistol and a box of fireworks from Spencer's - smell that powder, see that flash - that one almost went-off in my fingers.

There is a Christmas party at the church. Santa will hand out bags with fruit and candy. We'll have ham and eggs for supper. It think it's Daddy's favorite. Christmas is so much fun. The "Silent Night" feeling makes me feel so good. I can just see the Christ Child and the Three Wise Men on that quiet night, with that big beautiful star up above.

All the seasons of my youth were good ones. I loved my people and I know they loved me. My family was the greatest and Mama and Daddy made me feel good just to be near them.

(These writings are dedicated to my parents, brothers and sisters, relatives, and all the good people of my youth. RLH)


  1. Thanks Joel for remembering your brother and our dad. We miss him. He would love to read your blog if he were here. Do you think they read blogs in heaven?