Sunday, July 22, 2012

Yes. I can.

“To live; to love; to learn; and to leave a legacy” ~ Stephen Covey

Every summer - usually late July or early August - is a magical time for me. My garden is almost fully producing the fruits of our labors, the weather is hot and the locusts are announcing the dog days of summer. But most of all, my grandma's spirit rises up in me and reminds me of the sturdy stock from which I came.

My grandma, Lila Beth Marsh, lost her mother when she was 13. From that point on, she worked her fingers to the bone helping provide for herself and her family of father and three brothers. She became the cook, the cleaner, and the main female presence in their lives. (I'm sure there's more to the story that I don't know, but that's how I picture it all in my head. I see it all in sepia tones...pictures of hard working men coming home to this sweet little girl who has been busting her rump to cook for them - smiling through tired eyes.)  

She married when she was 16 and bore three daughters. The eldest of those daughters gave birth to me. And Grandma didn't even realize she'd just become one of the best friends I'd ever have. 

We spent innumerable hours at Grandpa and Grandma's house. After school, we watched our cartoons and Gilligan's Island till Mother got off work. And in the summers, we were there to liven the place up with every imaginable entertainment we could create. My brother usually went with Grandpa while I went with Grandma. The bank, the nursing home, the church, the garden, the kitchen and the bean/pea patches were usually our stomping grounds. 

The garden, kitchen and bean/pea patches were my favorite.....leading me straight to the legacy I hope to continue to leave for my children: canning vegetables.

Nothing brings me closer to Grandma than lugging the pressure cooker and all my canning supplies up from the basement. Wait... maybe the smell of shelled peas and snapped beans....those might actually bring me closer.  Or making jelly...that's in the running too.  See? This is why the answer is probably just the time of year.....

I get out my (Grandma's) Ball Canning Book then set Sadie up with her bowl of beans or peas to begin shelling/snapping and I start washing my jars. Grandma's kitchen magically appears in my mind's eye and I am at utter peace. Nothing feels safer than stepping back in time and reliving the canning days in Grandma's kitchen. All is right with the world. Everything makes sense. NOTHING can bother me when I'm listening to the rattle of the canner or screwing down the lids on the pint jars filled with delicious veggies.
Gosh I love her. I hope she can somehow look down from Heaven and see that all the things she unknowingly taught me while keeping my entertained weren't lost. And that I'm encouraging her great grandchildren to learn them too.

So there ya go. If you've wondered what I'm doing...now you know. I'm getting back to my summer basics. I'm connecting with myinner Laura Ingalls Wilder. I'm pretending I live in simpler days where I go to bed tired from working with my hands not battling the social masses.

I'm remembering my grandma.

And hoping just a little bit of her preciousness rubbed off on me.

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