District #70 country school used Labor Day to clean up the building and grounds. Parents and kids worked beside neighbors without children, and all shared in the picnic dinner. Summer chickens were fried, potatoes scalloped, cucumbers and onions marinated in vinegar and sugar beside chocolate cakes and cherry pies. Scalloped corn was my favorite. A picnic wasn't a picnic without it.
Grandpa Williamson nailed a 16 penny nail in the center of a foot-square flat board. Working on the picnic table, he jammed the ear of fresh shucked corn on the nail and cut the corn off the cob Mom then blanched and froze. I swiped niblets to eat raw, and still love it right off the cob. Sticky corn milk ran everywhere. When she scalloped hers, she added eggs, butter, our own sour cream and cracker crumbs. Baking set it and gave it a golden finish. I wanted to hijack it, run and hide and eat the whole batch.
Pears ripened in September signaling the start of a new school year and the end to summer and fresh produce. Jani and I each took a pear and a fresh plum to school in our lunch boxes. Side note: she collected rocks in her empty lunch box on the walk home. I can smell the sweet scent of the pear's ripeness as I bit into it and the tangy, juicy flesh of the plum. Pure joy. Alive nourishment. This morning I ate a raw pear with a wedge of Brie, which wasn't a cheese of choice then. Peppermint Patty makes a great pear pie with home canned pears. I must ask for her recipe.
Grandpa was "The Help." His eyes were dark, his hair was white, but his skin was bleached, just so there is no confusion on The Help. He came all summer long to ease Mom's "put-up" load cleaning and freezing fryers for all of us and to sell, picking and canning green beans, canning cherries and picking mulberries for jams and pies with rhubarb. His and Grandma's white peaches we converted to jam and pies and ate fresh until we couldn't. He brought gallons of vinegar and bags of sugar for pickling cucumbers he picked by the bushel. Every available flat surface in the house, including the fold-down table behind the door to the upstairs, displayed jars and freezer bags of cooling produce. And he stayed through clean up. By season's end, both our cupboards and freezers were full of summer, and we had food to give as gifts.
Remembering is reliving live life. I feel the love between us fueling our work with harmony. We are laughing at cucumbers twisted, as if trying to get away from their siblings. Jani and I just used a box of cereal so we didn't have to look at each other. Grandpa, Mom and I make faces at bushels of Dad's morning-picked corn, a whole day's work or two. Both have passed from this world, but our life together continues uninterrupted; we are all alive and well. Forever.
2011 Red Convertible Travel Series