Our neighbor spread straw on his lawn, so that the ducks and geese will not eat his newly sown grass seed. A rain-filled breeze swept my way, and with it came sweet-scented memories.
The Farm: where a child could be a child. My grandparents: Mawmaw and Pawpaw, sturdy legs planted on the land, strong arms, shielding a child from hunger, from danger.
Straw….I remember the front porch with rocking chairs creaking and Pawpaw singing.
I remember a canopy of stars above, and below, lightening bugs sparkling on the hill: iced tea, pie. I lean against my grandfather’s legs. A calloused finger stretches forth, pointing to the ancient Hopewell Indian earthworks on the hill directly across from ours. “That there is Serpent Mound,” he says. “You’ve got kin buried there.” He lights his pipe.
I crawl into his lap and snuggle. His chest is bony. He works too hard to put on fat. He pulls out his harmonica and plays.
Straw…I remember the barn.
Fragrant hay and chubby kittens; soft, roly poly balls of purring fur, sweet babies. The hayloft: my domain, where Nancy Drew is devoured as hungrily as my grandmother’s biscuits.
Warm teats in the palms of my hands, the metallic sheeeeeesh sheeeeeesh of warm, rich milk, as it hits the side of the bucket, my cheek against warm, contented cow. Here you go! A cat catches a well-aimed stream and looks satisfied.
Bucket fed calves, their noses knocking against the metal pail, soft noses, nuzzling for more, their sandpaper tongues searching for every drop. Squawking chickens gently lifted from straw-filled nests; eggs are gathered for breakfast.
Straw…I remember Mawmaw’s kitchen.
Here is food: yeast rolls and fried chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes, peas, summer salad, corn on the cob, noodles and fresh green beans. Here is security and love.
Straw…I remember running wild – at last I can be a child – running through pastures and woods.
There are grapevines to swing on and hills to climb. I walk with the cows. I carry a stick. It’s handy to scratch a bovine’s hard-to-reach itch.
Sun drenched rocks on which to dream, “Wolf Run,” a clear running stream, gorgeous with its blue, clay walls. I stop and eat my lunch of thick ham sandwiches with home made bread, Mawmaw’s cured ham, preserved pickles, and secret recipe spread. I drink from the stream. It’s cold and delicious. Crawdads dart by. I laugh and raise my face to the sun.
Straw…I remember the “Joke Tree.”
My cousins come “a visitin’of the weekends.” We dart from the house, and run to the pigpen over which an aged tree reigns. Up her trunk we scramble, and clamber over thick, leaf-filled limbs. “What did the mayonnaise say to the refrigerator? Shut the door, I’m dressing!” Exaggerated laughs; we swing from the limbs and dare each other to jump and miss the slop trough.
Straw…I remember the smell of straw and cows and manure.
I remember the smell of pipe smoke and haylofts, rich milk and good food. I remember the smell of sunshine and laughter. I remember the smell of love.
Excerpt from Son of My Soul –The Adoption of Christopher ISBN: 1894936930 Debra Shiveley Welch, Saga Books
©2007 Debra Shiveley Welch
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