Tag Archives: beekeeping

“On This Hilltop” by Sue Hubbell

Before the internet and blogging, people like Sue Hubbell wrote columns for newspapers. “On This Hilltop” is mostly from those newspaper columns.

Writing a newspaper column really helps a writer learn to focus on a topic, edit the piece down to meet a word count and choose topics to interest a wide variety of other people. I know because I too wrote a newspaper column for a few years and later rewrote and added to those columns and put “Exploring the Ozark Hills” together.

"On This Hilltop" by Sue Hubbell
Sue Hubbell wrote a newspaper column in the 1970s and these are selected pieces from those. They give a glimpse into the lives of people in the Ozarks.

“On This Hilltop” was written in the 1970s and reflects the times. That is part of the book’s appeal and a good reason to read it. This was the beginning of both the women’s movement and the environmental movement.

One of the final pieces is called “Factory Women” and discusses how the coming of factories to the rural South changed so much for women. They were the ones getting that weekly paycheck. They learned to take pride in themselves and become a voice to be reckoned with instead of little more than a shadow of their husbands.

City people haven’t changed much since then. They are often a source of amusement to rural people.

The Hubbells were beekeepers. Bees are interesting creatures and figure in several of the columns. It’s strange to think that they could set up an outyard – a set of beehives away from home – for a mere gallon of honey a year.

My herd of Nubian goats waiting for me
Cities have lots of attractions like museums and stores. One thing they don’t have is my herd and that is a good reason for me to stay or return home. Sue Hubbell may not have had goats, but her Ozark home still called her back from the big city as she relates in some pieces in “On This Hilltop”.

“On This Hilltop” does have several pieces I, as a former city girl, can truly relate to. I do remember going back to the city after several years in rural Arkansas and finding the city to be another world, one in which I no longer fit. And like Sue Hubbell, I was so very glad to return to my rural home, goats and chickens.

Explore the plants, animals and natural happenings of the Ozarks in “Exploring the Ozark Hills“.

Reading “A Country Year”

I love going to library book sales as the piles of books at my house will attest. At one of them I found a book called “A Country Year” by Sue Hubbell.

I had previously found a copy of her “On This Hilltop” and enjoyed the essays in it very much. Finding another book of her essays was nice.

I looked forward to reading “A Country Year” but somehow it ended up on the bottom of a stack then shoved into a bookcase. It languished there until I went browsing for a book to read.

storm clouds over the pasture

Big storm clouds add dramatic contrast to a blue sky any time of the year.

Sue Hubbell lived not that far from where I do now in the Ozarks. She lived alone for twelve years making a living as a commercial bee keeper. “A Country Year” is about the people and her area of the Ozarks.

Some are reflections on the beauty of the area. They are walks out along and down the river bluff where she lived. The microclimates she writes about are found here as well making it possible to find a bit of spring during the heart of winter.

winter is part of "A Country Year"

A late winter snow or early spring one is normally a wet one. The snow clings to anything it touches giving everything a white coating. A hint of sunlight melts the snow on the branches leaving them stark gray against the white ground.

Others essays are about how people think and behave. One was interesting as it got at the heart of what, around here, was the terrible over reach of the government in setting up the Ozark Rivers Scenic Riverways.

The park brings in lots of tourists both good and bad. It sets regulations on how many canoe rental places can operate. It sets up behavior guidelines.

storms bring needed rain over "A Country Year"

The best rainbows come near sunset as a storm moves off to the east. This arc curved down into the far corner of our pasture. Look closely for the second small rainbow under the big one.

In town people complain about the land acquisition, the rules and government run amok. They don’t think about the jobs or the money. They don’t think about the large increase in people using the river or how clean it is now. They forget the government stepped in when they were trying to dam the river for a recreational lake.

Several essays are about keeping bees. One poor helper declares he will never have arthritis in his lower regions after one round with upset bees. Anecdotally bee stings are supposed to ease or prevent arthritis.

spring is part of a country year

A spring fed creek runs down this small ravine in the springtime. It’s a quiet walk right off the county road yet miles away as the plants close in around you. Sit quietly listening to the many birds calling, the breeze ruffling the trees and the gurgle of water running over rock ledges. Time and stress slip away.

“A Country Year” is a lovely book of essays on living out away from the city on a shoe string budget. It’s about something most people today never get the time to do, meet and understand themselves in the quiet nature provides. Perhaps this is the best part of the book. Most of the essays carry that quiet and reflection in their words giving a respite after a hectic day.