When I was a child I was seldom allowed in the kitchen. The house was small and I was considered to be “underfoot.”
But I do recall how the days passed and the effort that went into cooking and cleaning.
When my grannies were out in the garden, I was usually sitting in the dirt playing.
I loved it out there where the warmth of the sun caressed my head. I had so much fun playing with horned toads and lady bugs.
Gardening got into my blood then and it is still there today.
Back then it was mainly vegetables and berries that were planted. Food to eat.
Then they canned much of it in big jars for winter meals. Steam would rise to the ceiling from the pressure cooker, and the heat of summer bore down on us as the slow days of summer passed.
There were no air conditioners. Just open windows that seemed to let in the heat and somehow keep it captured in the small rooms all day.
My oldest Great-grandma had a penchant for pretty flowers. She liked phlox, as I recall. And four o’clocks.
The yard was always buzzing with bees and butterflies attracted to her colorful clumps of flowers.
The only canned food I ever remember seeing back then was the occasional can of Spam. Everything else in our house was homemade and fresh from our garden.
A meal often consisted of sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, pinto beans with chunks of ham, cornbread and iced tea. The main meal was eaten at lunch time.
I recall the bubbling sugary scent of blackberry cobblers cooling on the counter. Or fried apple pies with the edges crimped by fingers that had done it so many times.
The big garden was fenced as was the entire perimeter of the land our house sat on. It was safe there. If someone got in they’d have to open the big long gate out front.
In the springtime there was an older black man who would come with his donkeys and till the soil to prepare the land for gardening. I’d see him sitting up high on his buggy as he passed.
I recall the slow steady clunk-clunk of the donkey hooves.
Life truly was the epitome of “slow living” back then. The man didn’t hurry along. He took his time and probably enjoyed the scenery of the countryside.
We had to walk a few miles into town to get groceries we didn’t grow or fetch something from the five and dime or drugstore.
It was not a hurried affair. I sometimes got a 10 cent ice cream cone at the drugstore before we started the long walk home.
My grannies wore bonnets to protect their heads and faces from the sun. I skipped along in front, where country roads finally blended into city sidewalks in town. And then in reverse on the way back home.
There didn’t seem to be set-in-stone schedules back then. You got up early in the morning and ate gravy and biscuits and eggs and maybe sausage. Your alarm clock was the ornery rooster out back.
Aprons would be tied in the back with fast nimble fingers that had done it probably hundreds of times.
After breakfast was cooked and the kitchen was cleaned came the garden chores and tending to the chickens out in the big chicken yard.
The long summer days were spent tending to whatever needed tending. Maybe it would be patching clothing or sewing on a button.
The sun would set and we’d have already eaten our supper. My grannies would have retired by then to the front porch where they watched the cars go down the road and rested from their long day’s work.
They’d have paper fans to fan themselves with and to discourage mosquitoes.
I still remember the rhythm of those rockers, creaking and slow and steady.
How magical it seemed that light slowly faded and suddenly night held court.
The tree leaves brushed against one another in the wind, making a rustling sound. And the dark branches were starkly etched in the moonlight.
Frogs would croak and crickets would chirp. Dogs would bark and run around the house. I would chase the lightning bugs, their bright light blinking on and off as they elusively flew through the night.
Finally the rockers would stop and my grannies would get up to head to bed. Chores would begin bright and early by 6 a.m. There would be flour to scatter on the counter and biscuits to be formed.
That was life in the countryside in the sixties.