My grandparents were my mentoring pioneers.
How far back into your childhood can you remember? My Hubby remembers a couple things from before he was age one! In fact one memory of his comes from his first few WEEKS!
My first recollection was a visit to my grandparent’s place. They lived in the sticks, to put it bluntly. They loved me as grandparents do, but they were strict about things too. One morning, in their house, I remember getting out of bed. The floor was a bit cool on the feet. I trotted out to the kitchen to find someone. There were very few windows in their log house, so the interior was fairly dim in the morning light. I found grandma. She had the wood cook stove going, but there wasn’t much heat coming off of it yet. She let me sit on stool just a little ways from the stove. I wondered what she was making in the pot near the back of it. “Porridge”, she said. “Where was grandpa?” I asked. She told me he was doing chores. They cared a lot about their animals. The farm animals provided them with food and “horse power”and those animals were looked after first.
I have never waited so long in my life for breakfast. Mom had made porridge at home and it didn’t seem to take nearly that long. I was getting quite impatient, but somehow knew better than to make a fuss. I had a long time to look at the rows and rows of shelves that I think were canning jars and such. The way they lived seemed strange to me. I didn’t have a clue then, but I was almost looking at the way I would live much of the rest of my life.
That porridge was the best porridge I ever tasted in my whole life. I’ve contemplated that all my life and wondered if I was
just imagining it. After finding some fresh organic groats about a couple years ago, I figured out the truth. They had their own equipment and grain. They must have freshly ground some oats and it was nothing like the store bought breakfast I was used to. For the first while after getting my organic oats, I couldn’t quit eating them. I threw them by the handfuls into my mouth without cooking them, let alone milling them. I wish I had a smallish oat miller, of some kind, for minimal household use, but have never found anything of the sort. I normally use and prepare these groats similar to brown rice. It’s great. It’s to kill for with cream. Dare ya!
Mom says my grandpa really loved me. I didn’t get to know him much, sadly. He died when I was quite young in a terrible house fire**. I hope he didn’t suffer. The only memories about him, that are intact, have to do with horses, wagons, and a stone boat. I remember the horses, because he used to try to get me to make them move, by making this sucking/clucking noise with my mouth. That meant go. I tend to remember frustrating things, and that was one. They wouldn’t go for me. I thought I wasn’t doing it right, and kept trying – clicking and clucking in different ways. In hind sight, they probably only obeyed grandpa’s voice.
The stone boat was a flat wooden surfaced sled that horses would pull. Grandpa would put a big wooden barrel on it and cluck at the horses. Off they went with this boat in tow. They went down a winding bush trail until they got near the creek. Then grandpa filled the barrel with water and it was towed back to the house again.
They didn’t have a fridge or a freezer. Not too far from the house, they had a well. It looked like these decorative wishing wells I see in people’s yards now, but it was, of course, much larger. A sturdy rope was tied to a wooden bucket which went way down in a dark hole, until you couldn’t see it anymore. After the bucket was lowered a considerable distance, there was a faraway hollow splashing sound. This indicated that the bucket had arrived at water level. I remember that they kept milk and cream in the buckets, which stayed down there in the cold water. The cold water acted as a refrigerant.
I never thought, until now, that it was strange that they didn’t get their water from that well. It was likely, perhaps, that this make-shift refrigerator was normally full. Maybe it was easier to bring water for the house from the creek, with the horses, rather than pull it up pail by pail from the great depth of the well.
Grandma was a real pioneer in her own right. So much work went into what she used and ate. After grandpa died, she stayed out there by herself, plugging along. For the longest time I’ve thought that I would want to be like her and do the same thing. It would take a lot of courage. Late in life she was found lying on her floor, days after suffering a stroke, and had to be moved to a hospital, and later to a nursing home, until she passed on. When I think about being like her, I have to accept these same realities. Is that what I want? One comes with other. I think she was bravely independent-which appeals to me.
Horse picture credit: reprint by C.Cumming c. 1982