Yes, It’s True! A new post! What the? If there is anyone out there that hasn’t given up on my ever posting on this blog again – I hope you enjoy today’s inspired post. And thanks for sticking with me.
The temperatures are climbing’ today – fortunately the humidity is low so my little apartment with no A/C is bearable. Though the cats might disagree. I find inspiration in the strangest places sometimes – today I was making lunch and found myself enjoying some wonderful childhood memories…
As I picked apart a cold, roast chicken – trying to get every last tidbit of goodness before tossing the bird – the heat of the day came upon my little kitchen. The sound of the fan in the window working diligently to keep the thickening air moving through my apartment, over my skin, and (hopefully) ruffling the fur of my cats. Street noises wafting through the window, creating a soundtrack to the process of making a yummy sandwich.
I don’t know what it was – the heat, the sound, the garden fresh produce, or the frugality of how I picked apart that chicken…I began to remember the hot summer days of my childhood back in the upper midwest of the US. Though I hesitate to admit it, this was a time before A/C was common in homes or cars. The days when you had to hibernate in the coolness of the basement and could turn the sprinkler on in your front yard and every kid in the neighbourhood would suddenly come by for a visit and run through the sprinkler – and when lemonade stands were a common happening (and every adult in on the block was obliged to stop by – and did so happily).
Our mom grew up in a huge family and on a prosperous seed farm in North Dakota. Though the family business had gone through many changes by the time I came around, the farmstead was still working — our aunt ‘Mousie’ and her family kept it alive as a dairy farm. The main house was a big white house with a big front porch – now that I think about it for a family of 12 + all the workers on the farm — the kitchen was tiny!
In the summer there always seemed to be family get together at the farm. I remember helping mom make her mother’s potato salad recipe in a massive quantity, with radishes from our garden sliced and placed on the top ‘just so’. Dad would pack a cooler and then pile six of us into the car, making our way out to the farm down the interstate and onto the dusty, hilly county roads. I don’t know exactly how many people would attend, but it always seemed like a huge number of people to my little eyes. If memory serves correctly we’d set up lunch in a buffet style in the house – the usual fare – hot dogs & burgers on the grill, corn on the cob, potato salad (of course), buns, baked beans, coleslaw, some sort of jello salad with mini marshmallows that slurped out of a Tupperware jello hold, and there would be a cooler of pop and a separate cooler of beer (for the adults). Watermelon and vanilla ice cream (made with actual cream) were the standard dessert. Mom’s family was a whopping 12 siblings! All the girls learned how to cook, pluck and butcher a chicken (from the hen-house to the stove), shuck the corn, can the produce, keep a house, and the boys learned how to work the land. [oh, the irony..]
I remember all the adults getting together to play softball in the yard. The yard was huge and green, huge trees bordered the yard (over by the old chicken coop) and the far end by the dirt road. To this day you could probably fit a full baseball diamond in the yard (minus the outfield). It as hot hot hot and dusty. Can’t remember who played on what teams, but I remember cheering them on and admiring the fact that they could hit and catch a ball (I still can’t do that to this day). There was a lot of eating, catching up on life, and sharing memories of the farm and farm-life. Though we were exhausted by the end of the afternoon and fully ready to head home, we never really wanted to leave. There was so much to explore and so many stories to hear.
Or maybe my memory is skewed by time. Being the youngest in my family I probably didn’t have the patience to sit and hear ANOTHER story, but you couldn’t drag the adults away from those conversations! So, I was ‘forced’ to endure… : )
Things have changed now – aunt Mousie and her husband passed away many years ago, and the three remaining sisters all live in the city (though all in close proximity). The farm is still standing – aunt Mousie’s youngest son and his wife maintain the farmstead, though farming itself has changed so much over the past ten years. The land is now farmed by neighbouring farmers.
Am so thankful that I had the chance to listen to those stories and get to know some of the characters (relatives). I remembering feeling that I never wanted for anything – though in reality I think that we had only what we needed. It’s an important lesson I think. There wasn’t any excess, people worked hard, and the presence of family was consistent. To this day the three remaining sisters see each other weekly and whenever the kids and grandkids are home they make an event of it.
As kids we were always busy busy busy during our school year, but it’s those dusty summer days that are most prevalent in my mind today. Good times.