I spent my happy childhood moving from place to place twelve times before the age of 18. When asked where I am from, I respond “Everywhere”.
One of the constants in my “gypsy” childhood was a red painted log house built by my grandfather in a small logging town in rural Oregon. In my mind, my maternal grandparents lived in this one little red house always and will forever.
During my family’s summer visits, I was swallowed up by the scent and beauty of my grandmother’s abundant gardens. Gorgeous roses and majestic lilies mingled with waist high snapdragons and common daisies, while delicate dianthus tumbled and spilled over rock beds. Flowering vines, perhaps clematis, climbed the lattice enclosing the front porch while providing shade for domino tournaments with grandpa. The lush vegetable and fruit gardens held magic as well – snapping beans, podding peas, and picking strawberries were all activities reserved solely for visits to grandma’s. Sun warmed apples were snapped off of branches and grapes could be plucked right off the vines to be eaten immediately.
In the fall, upon entering the back porch, you were overwhelmed by the delicious aroma of the bushel baskets of apples awaiting transformation into offerings of apple butter and sauce. The upstairs hall was lined with cupboards whose shelves were packed with glistening jars full of purple plums, red tomatoes, green pickles, and magenta beets…summer in jars.
Upon entering the house in the winter we were greeted with steaming bowls of potato soup and embraced by the warmth of wood heat. My siblings and I slept in a tiny gabled room upstairs on soft beds under layers of cozy hand stitched quilts made by my ancestors.
I will always remember seeing the faded name “Pete Cooper” on the mailbox as I drove away for the last time.
Memories provide a permanent meeting place to spend time with those we love. My mother once commented it was eerie how much I reminded her of her own mother…I wondered if it was the dirt under my fingernails from working in my abundant gardens or the sight of my cupboards packed to overflowing with summer produce in jars. Maybe it was the warmth of my home, laced with wood smoke scent, while I leaned forward in my chair to thoughtfully stitch together layers of colorful fabric to warm future generations.
We are fortunate indeed to live a good life. The places we go and the people we embrace along the way have the ability to seed extraordinary bits of themselves into our hearts, magically creating one continuous story that will always exist and go on forever…