January 9, 2014 My 500 Words



Yep!  Surprise!  I’m a little farm girl.  This picture was taken on the back step of my grandparent’s farm house.  That step was one of my favorite places.  Eventually, on the right side of the step, my grandmother planted hollyhocks.  Have you ever made little hollyhock dolls?  Today, because of that memory, I have hollyhocks in my own flower beds.
The steps became a night-time theater as my grandmother and I sat in the quiet of darkness and the majestic heavens performed for us.  The blinking lights of jets, the Big Dipper, shooting stars, the glow of lights from the nearest town…the millions of stars twinkling and winking goodnight.
My grandfather was a dry land wheat farmer with milk cows, ponies, horses, cattle, and chickens. Adventure for myself, and the four boy cousins I grew up with, was never far away.  Stair-stepped in age, I landed right in the middle. We wandered the farm yard in all four directions.  
A pasture pond gave us tadpoles to watch squiggle and squirm in the murky water’s edge.
We would scramble up the ladder to the hay loft, listening for the soft meows of the newborn kittens hidden by their momma.
The barn roof was accessed by climbing to the top rung of the corral fence and hoisting oneself up, belly first. What a vantage point.  I could see the countryside for miles.
I was a tree climber, bumped through the pastures in the bed of the old farm truck, helped milk cows and gather chicken eggs.
To this day I remember the smell of the saddles, bridles and blankets in the tack room, hay and oats, cow pies and chicken poop.  And who can forget the odor of singeing chicken feathers?  When you wanted fried chicken…you butchered your own.
Oh, the food that came from my grandmother’s kitchen. Sitting on a stool beside her, I’d watch as she kneaded dough for homemade bread. She thoughtfully provided  mini bread pans so I could bake my own loaves. There is nothing like the aroma of baking bread!   Churned butter would melt, soft creamy yellow, on that first thick, steamy hot slice.
Fresh cold milk washed down rich chocolate cake mixed from scratch.  Thick, rich cream was poured over peaches and pears from sealed mason jars she had canned the year before.  And we all took turns cranking the old ice cream maker, our mouths watering to taste the sweet concoction.
The ladies of the community would gather in grandma’s living room around a large quilt frame, their hands deftly stitching the material in front of them.  It was a time of gossip, details about new babies and the latest on friends and family.
Traveling to town meant my grandfather put on a suit, tie and fedora, replacing his work clothes of overalls and straw hat. My grandmother exchanged her plain house dress and apron for a church dress, hat, white gloves and pocketbook.
There were community ice skating parties on ponds that no longer exist.
The little country church was the hub for social gatherings and worship.  Ice cream socials, Vacation Bible School, potlucks, wedding showers..my own included, funeral dinners, Easter sunrise services and a landing place for Santa after the annual Christmas program.
For me, the most memorable time of the year was wheat harvest.  I linger over memories of lunches and suppers eaten off the back of opened tailgates.  Sandwiches, chips, homemade cookies and cold lemonade from what would now be a vintage jug. The end of harvest was celebrated with a watermelon feed.  No forks…just the pink, sticky, sweet juice dripping down your chin and through your fingers.  And seed spitting contests were mandatory.
When it is harvest time in my little corner of the world, seeing a combine making its way steadily through a golden wheat field, still causes me to pause in wonder and sweet remembrances.