Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Hunting Ginseng

Image result for ginseng plant photos

Shewbird Mountain towers in the Southwestern corner of Clay County, NC.  The name came after the shape of a flying bird.  Others think the mountain was named for a Cherokee chief, Shewbird, who lived in a cabin on the ridge.

My father and his family lived at the foot of the mountain in the Matheson Cove.  At one time, Great-Granddaddy Dallas Matheson owned the entire 600 acres of Shewbird Mountain and raised an apple orchard above the frost line.

Each spring the Ledford family hiked to the top of Shewbird Mountain and had a picnic.  They could view both Georgia and North Carolina from the ridge line.

After their picnic on Shewbird, the girls would write notes to boyfriends and leave them between the boulders at the Devil's Post Office.  That was a cave located on the mountainside.

My father and his brothers would hunt for ginseng in the woods.  They never took all the plants from one spot, but some folks stripped the sane from the land until it became extinct.

The Cherokee Indians first owned this land.  When they harvested plants, the Cherokee would apologize for taking them.  They would always leave ginseng to grow back the next season.

Because the ginseng root resembled the human body, the mountain folks used it as a home remedy for all ailments that afflicted them.  The bitter herb was more valuable than gold and exported to China.  Besides using ginseng for medicinal purposes, many mountain folks supplemented their income by harvesting this plant.

by:  Brenda Kay Ledford
This story appeared in Old Things, an anthology published by Old Mountain Press, 2018,

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Mother's Love

A mother's love
is like red roses
perfuming the mountains
on a fog-choked morning.

A mother's love
is like a shade tree
cooling a hot brow
on a blistering day.

A mother's love
is like a cardinal
lifting your spirit
with cheerful songs.

A mother's love
is like a candle
lighting your path
with her prayers.

A mother's love
is like a patchwork quilt
wrapping a wounded heart
in a harsh world.

by:  Brenda Kay Ledford

I wish all my blogger friends a very Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018


See the source image
                 Buttercups pop up on roadsides, their sunny faces thrive despite the frost.


In late April,
ice sparkles like pearls
on tender tomato plants.

Wasted work, wasted time!
If I can find
the heart to replant.

But dozens of buttercups
pop up on roadsides,
their sunny faces thrive.

The purple phlox
creeps over verdant grass,
frost didn't steal their act.

Not even the dogwoods
washing the woods with snow
are squelched by winter

scratching the face of spring.
Why droop my head?
I'll rebound.  I will rebound!
                --Brenda Kay Ledford

                                Dogwoods washing the mountains with snow.

I hope all my blogger friends are having a beautiful spring and when you plant your garden, that the plants will not be nipped by Jack Frost! 

Saturday, April 28, 2018


After Walt Whitman's,

Why, who makes much of miracles?
As for myself, I know nothing but miracles.
Whether I stroll the woodland trail washed
   with mountain laurel,
Or lift my eyes to watch
   the bald eagle cutting through azure skies,
Or stand under the redbud tree
   wearing lilac lace,
Or pet the soft coat of a puppy,
Or look at newborn calves
   frolicking in verdant pastures,
Or splash barefooted through
   the icy waters of Hyatt-Mill Creek,
Or play with my great-niece
   riding her tricycle,
Or the Full Pink Moon
   shining through my bedroom window,
Or new life bursting forth
   from the earth at spring;
These with the rest, one and all,
   are to me miracles.
                  --Brenda Kay Ledford

Saturday, March 17, 2018


The robins twitter as they fly,
gems glitter on Hyatt-Mill Creek,
purple crocus pop up,
the year's at the spring.

Cotton clouds kiss azure skies,
mountains unfurl purple ribbons,
wild strawberries dot roadsides,
the robins twitter as they fly.

Sound the flute!
The winter is past,
life bursts forth from earth's tomb;
gems glitter on Hyatt-Mill Creek.

The hillside's dew-pearled,
frogs croak on the pond,
there's joy in the hills;
purple crocus pop up.

Willows wave lacy fingers,
the winter has retreated,
roses waft on a chilled breeze;
the year's at spring.
                  --Brenda Kay Ledford

I hope all my blogger friends will have a Happy Spring!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Ledford Pubished in Good Old Days Magazine

For my blogger friends who subscribe to the "Good Old Days Magazine," I wanted to share this good news.

My story, "Matheson Cove Trading:  Bartering was a practical fact of life," appeared in the March/April, 2018 issue of "Good Old Days Magazine."

During the Great Depression, there was little money in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  My grandparents had no cash to buy another cow when their animal got drowned in the creek after a flash flood.  The children were very sad because their cow, Beauty, was also a pet.

Granddaddy Ledford was a savvy farmer and traded one of his hogs for a milk cow with a neighbor.  That's how both families were able to feed their children until the Great Depression ended, and they were able to earn money to buy products.

If you can get a copy of this issue of the "Good Old Days,"I hope you will enjoy reading this true story about my family.


Granddaddy Bob Ledford and Grandma Minnie Matheson Ledford survived the Great Depression by trading products and fed their family until money became more available to buy food.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Dozens of robins spread
an orange blanket
on the verdant grass.

Daffodils poke through
the bony fingers of winter,
the first bluebird flits

like a kite through azure skies.
A breeze whispers in the woods,
hundreds of birds flock

to the tops of trees,
the syncopation of songsters:
a prelude to spring!
                  --Brenda Kay Ledford

I hope my blogger friends are well and that the weather is warmer.  After the cold snap, I was so happy to see the daffodils blooming.  Although we will probably get more cold weather, I'm reminded when the daffodils bloom, that spring is coming again!

Hunting Ginseng

Shewbird Mountain towers in the Southwestern corner of Clay County, NC.  The name came after the shape of a flying bird.  Others think the...