A true child’s story.
In the fall the whole family was engaged in putting up food. I remember a huge walk-in, dirt floor, always cold pantry in the basement. Three walls were lined with shelves for the tons of processed food jars to be properly placed on. The center of the room had a huge wooden box. This was where all the potatoes (that is the ones that we did not eat raw) went. I dream of having something like that in our home now. I also want to see it stocked full by the first frost. Has not happened yet, but I have a goal.
The best part of fall was all the taste-testing:
- Pick it fresh from the vine, tree, root, or wherever it may be growing and munch.
- Sample ALL jams, jellies, sauces, preserves – before they are done and packed.
- Enjoy the first of everything made at Thanksgiving with family and friends.
(Not us, but you get the idea just by the faces of these kids.)
While doing my research for this post, I was saddened by the fact that I do not have any more cherished family photo memories. The fire of 2014 took them all out. The fact that my wonderful photo memories are gone also helped me to see something that I didn’t before. I went looking for pics that would be as similar as possible to my original memories. I was shocked to discover that almost all the photos that came up in my searches were not of kids in real gardens. A real garden (like what we grew up on) has:
- No wooden or plastic borders.
- Simple dirt, maybe a bit of straw, for walkways between the rows.
- Kids that will get FILTHY while picking all the good stuffs (cuz everything on a kid with dirt turns into mud.).
- Parents watching the kids all the time because they will eat all the food before you have time to process it.
- Weeds that will continue to pop up no matter how much you work on them.
- Not massive acres tended by dozens of people, but a simple backyard size that is managed by using just the family members.
- Everyone is always smiling because you can see before you the labors of a job done in love, and a job well done.
I remember being down on the ground with bare legs getting full of dirt. Using both hands (no gloves) to dig into the dirt and pull out potatoes and carrots. Crawling along the row with those same dirty knees to pick every last one of the beans, peas, and all the other tiny veggies. Heaven forbids if we missed even one. Oh almost forgot, the children were allowed to go back into the garden area when we were all done gathering the processing foods, to gleen off what may have been missed. It was never much – but it was fun looking. At this point, we were allowed to tear the snot out of the garden. It’s always more fun to tear things apart than to build them.
(Close, but this is city and has sheds that we did not have back then. Also picture it about 10-times bigger.)
It would take days, sometimes weeks, to get everything processed and put up in the basement, dirt floor pantry. I remember walking ever so carefully down those cement stairs to the basement, arms loaded with great foods. Hang a tight right and straight on to the pantry door. Watch your step because you had to step down to the dirt floor. Always, someone older would take the jars of deliciousness from our arms and place them in proper order on the shelves.
The items still left from the year before were brought forward, and the new year’s yummies were placed in line behind them. Next stop – Thanksgiving Day!
We always held the family Thanksgiving party at our farm. All morning (and most years the night before) were spent bringing up the stored goodies and prepping them for the day of feasting. I say a “day” of feasting as our family did not just do the one meal. People started showing up about 10:00 a.m. and some did not leave till after 10:00 p.m.
We had a huge dining room area with a huge rectangle table in the middle of it. To give you the scope of huge – we also had an antique upright piano, a rounded glass china cabinet, as well as a couple of storage cabinets – oh and an outstanding tree/chair coat rack. (Mom had this thing for tiger wood – we still do.) All of these things were in the same room as the dining room table. Granted, the table leaf was added for these special occasions, but how it all fit in, with all of the people getting around it to fill plates, all day long; amazes me to this day.
(The piano and cabinet are identical to ours. The table is similar, but the chairs were not so fancy. I just remember hiding under there when our dad’s dad came to visit. It was a very German thing to chase the little kids and pinch them – I have no idea why?)
Later in the day, the football games would start. The men would retire with their plates of food into the living room and start screaming and yelling at the poor TV. The women would gather in the kitchen which was always the place of interesting conversations, and a lot of laughing. (There is a WHOLE other story around “kitchens” and my memories. Saved for another day.). The kids would shoot outside like bullets at the first chance to flee. We had horses, a hay barn, straw mounds with rope swings, and if we were lucky to have a good snow before Thanksgiving, snow to sled on down our steep hills.
Our wonderful 80-acre farm was a fantastic place to grow up. The limitations were only held back by our own imaginations.
Tis the season for reminding siblings that fresh veggies are better when shared.
You can also check me out on: www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.