Monday, April 14, 2008

Back Down a Winding Country Lane

Don’t you wish you could go back to another time- another place? For me, I always wanted to return to Granny’s house. Oh, the bricks and mortar are still standing along a country byway. Actually, more cars today travel that crooked stretch of highway than ever did before, when I with my parents crept along the winding road, singing, “Over the River and Through the Woods…” to visit dear old Granny.

Oh, I’ve taken my daughter down there just to show her where Granny lived, and Amanda always asked me to tell over and over again the stories I loved to tell. Amanda has nothing in her modern life to associate with a bygone time like going down to spend the weekend in a small country farmhouse. How I wanted to share the experience of gathering around the wood-burning stove in the parlor on a blustery Christmas Eve, when carolers really stopped in for steaming hot, mulled cider and gingerbread.

Then I’d crawl into bed with Granny; snuggling in beside her warmth under a mountain of home woven, woolen quilts. I really don’t think I’ve slept so safe and sound ever since.

Now, not everything was so great about spending the night at her house. She did have running water, but the outhouse beaconed you for your goodnight visit. I hated to make my evening trek down the creaking, wooden steps and over the uneven ground in the dark. No flashlight ever invented could shed enough light to ward off the spooky things that go bump on a hoary autumn’s eve. On very cold nights the chamber potty under the bed called my name.
But, again, oh, how I wished my sweet Amanda could associate this with me. She’ll never know- really know how it was.

I’ll never forget awakening the next morning in an empty bed to the delicious aromas wafting through the door; but, the room was so frigid when I peeked out from under the covers. I’ll never forget counting to three, jumping out of bed, and dashing for the kitchen and its toasty coziness produced by a double wood cook stove. Granny would already have a pan of homemade biscuits browning in the oven, a pot of sausage gravy stirring on top, and coffee perking on the stove. She invariably prepared enough food for an army, and everyone ate like there was no tomorrow!

But the best part of going was to be with dear Granny herself-so unpretentious. What you saw was what you got. Never one to put on airs, all she could ever think of was how to love on you and make you more comfortable. You could never eat enough, rest enough, and have enough of anything. She was always offering you more. She never sat and wanted to be waited on, but was always up trying to wait on you. She tirelessly set about serving and loving on her family. For dinner she unfailingly offered fried chicken and roast pork. Dessert always consisted of a triple layered coconut cake, a deep dish apple pie made from the fruit she dried the previous autumn, and my favorite- applesauce cake with caramel icing. No one has ever mastered that cake like she did. Oh, how I’d love a slice right this minute!

Amanda never knew Granny. She died when she turned eighty-six, the year before Amanda was born. My daughter had wonderful grandparents, who slathered her with every good blessing and love untold just like grandparents love to do, Just as I long to do when my grand kiddies come along. But there was never anyone quite like dear, sweet Granny and going to visit her in her small country home on the very winding lane of my youth.

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