Monday Morning Musing
I left home at 5:15am to pick up a young lady for work. On Monday morning she cleans the kitchen and bathrooms in a facility that gets a lot of weekend use. She cleans them again on Wednesday. It is an easy and appreciated transition back into employment for someone who hasn’t been employed in years due to despair and addiction. And she is quite dedicated to cleaning well, “as unto the Lord”.
As I drove through the darkness and rain to pick her up, my thoughts were about my grandmother. As children we laughed at her going to bed shortly after dark, “with the chickens”, as it was called. But I also remember that she was usually the first one up in the morning, too. By the time we would awaken to the smell of bacon frying in a large iron skillet she would have dressed, made her bed, fed and milked the cow, fed chickens and gathered eggs from the henhouse, churned butter, made biscuits in a large oval wooden bowl, set the table, ground coffee beans, and perked coffee on the stove top in an enameled pot with a glass bubble on top. The radio would be playing, tuned to the morning weather report, farm report, or gospel music.
She had three boys and a husband to care for. After her boys grew up and my grandfather died in a tragic fall from the hayloft (before I was born), she married again. She maintained the same routine for the gentleman that I knew as my grandfather, a farmer, and for one or two boarders who stayed in their home over several years while working temporarily in the local area. Every morning. Biscuits, bacon or sausage, eggs, fresh butter, homemade jellies/jams/preserves, and other assorted items in season- fruits, juices, etc.
Our life is quite different. Although I am becoming a lot like my grandmother in some ways, especially in the pattern of “early to bed, early to rise”, there are few similarities in our lifestyles. No cow, chickens, churning, or most of the other routines for me that marked her days. We have a morning single cup of decaf for me and robust dark roast regular for Bill made in a Keurig drip brewer. A few days a week we might have two or three thin slices of bacon cooked in the microwave or one or two small pieces of patty sausage sliced from a plastic wrapped roll cooked in a George Foreman grill. I do scramble eggs in an iron skillet, the same way she did. And I have the oval wooden bowl in which she made biscuits daily, but it holds decorative artificial fruit on my dining room hutch. There’s no bread for Bill, but I will have a bagel, toast, or croissant pulled from the freezer. There is no such thing as “fresh” butter, although we do occasionally get homemade jellies/jams/preserves as a gift or purchased from the farmers’ market. More often though, I am likely to “slice” an apple with a single downward push of a Pampered Chef apple slicer and eat it on the way out the door, held in a paper towel off a roll. My grandmother would never have “wasted money” on paper towels or napkins. She used lovely cloth kitchen towels, cloth napkins, and the ever-present apron that she or friends of hers likely had made from “flour sack” fabric or piece goods purchased at the local “Five and Dime” and washed them and hung them on a clothes line in the fresh air and sunshine. I haven’t had a clothes line in over 35 years.
She and her sister and friends gathered regularly for a “quilting bee”. She had a large wooden frame that held a stretched quilt top and its backing while they stitched and shared the moments of their lives together. She sewed shirts for her boys and my young brothers. She cut the hair of her family’s men, but went to the beauty parlor for her own cuts and perms. No color, thank you.
She went to church every Sunday and prepared lunch when she got home. No going out for Sunday lunch. She grew beautiful flowers in her yard and made wonderful arrangements in the flower shop by her house for funerals and other special flower-worthy events.
When I think so fondly of my grandmother and her rural, agrarian lifestyle centered around family and neighbors and the daily routine, I wonder what will my granddaughters remember of me when they have grandchildren? Am I leaving anything of value for them to point to that says……”solid”, “reliable”, “real”?
Bill just asked for bacon and eggs…..I’ll go scramble the eggs and put the bacon in the microwave before I head out the door with my apple.