In the Pumpkin Patch
I love Fall! The tastes, the smells, the colors – all of it.
My grandparents owned a working farm when I was a girl growing up. This was the season for canning, grinding meat, pickling and baking. Back then, my grandmother just made everything seem so easy. She had everything planned in her head and it seemed so effortless on her part.
As an adult, I realize that it had to be a pretty hectic schedule. She was up before dawn, milking the cows, gathering eggs from the chickens and slopping the pigs. She was baking biscuits before the men were up to go deer hunting (if you know any deer hunters, then you know this is what you would call EARLY). She had a full breakfast placed before them before they headed off into the woods.
She kept her house spick and span. After doing the dishes, she was a flurry of straightening, making up beds, sweeping, mopping and then there was the laundry, which she hung out on the line. I can still feel how cold my hands would get helping her put them out in the early morning chill.
In the background was the radio, usually turned to a religious radio station where the Lewis Family would sing. Sometimes, she’d listen to the swap shop or catch a station with a tune from her youth. (I remember her and my great-aunt teaching me how to do the Charleston right in front of the stove in her kitchen.) Sometimes there was even a program that discussed recipes and she’d write those down to try later.
Granny was most at home in her kitchen, gathering ingredients and setting me to work on some vegetable that needed shelling, slicing or dicing. While we worked, she would tell me funny stories about her youth. I remember once that she explained to me how a big family like hers traveled in a wagon to some sort of picnic gathering where she would see the boy that she was smitten with. His name was Julian. Julian also had a big family and one of his older brothers liked my grandmother. Luckily, she was able to garner the attention of the boy she liked and they snuck away behind a tree and experienced their first kiss together. Unbeknownst to both of them, the older brother had followed. When he saw them kiss, he became so angry, he threw a shoe at Julian, but missed by a mile.
I loved hearing this story because the boy, Julian, would grow into the man who would become my grandfather, though I never met him in person. I did, however, get to meet him through the stories that my grandmother told of him on those mornings when I stood at the sink with my bowl of vegetables watching her flit from her pantry to her counter and then over to the stove.
Her name was Fannie and she had a good sense of humor about her name. She would often tell PG rated jokes and giggle, making me laugh long before she got to the familiar punch lines.
After everything was clean, put away and cooking, Granny would get dressed. Prior to her “getting dressed” routine, she wore a house dress. “Getting dressed” was a whole other thing. She would pick out her outfits carefully, then bathe and powder. She would fix her hair and then apply make-up which included more powder about two shades lighter than her actual skin. After putting on her clothes, she would apply her lipstick, often dabbing a little on mine. To my knowledge, my grandmother never left her house without this ritual.
All of these things, she accomplished by mid-morning, when the day was still early and new. Sometimes, when the pies were cooling, we would go “visiting” or sometimes, we’d just sit on the porch where she would usually receive a visitor or two. All were welcome at her home. She never met a stranger that she didn’t turn into a friend. No one came to her house without being offered something to eat and drink and I can’t tell you how many times I heard her say, “If you go away hungry from this house, it’s your own fault.” It wasn’t until later that I figured out that all the while these things were going on, my grandmother was teaching me things, sharing our history and creating an unbreakable bond.
I loved her dearly, still do and I miss her sometimes so bad it aches, though she’s been gone for many years now. She left a mark on me. It was from my mother that I gained a backbone and my stubbornness, but my grandmother taught me kindness and how to be accepting of others, no matter who or what they were. She was a good woman and I am proud that I am her granddaughter.
Fall always brings her back to me. Memories that seem to fade through the rest of the year come back with a vibrancy that is like a welcoming home.
I guess that’s what Fall says to me, “Welcome Home.”
The bottom photo is a picture of her barn and another one of me with her that I thought I’d share.
If you have time, drop me a line and tell me which season is your favorite and why.
Until next time, thanks for stopping by to read my blog! ~PJ