Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Wood Stove

I've blogged so much about my grandparent's old farmhouse. I've written about the parlors and the back stairs and front veranda; the dining room with the slanted floor and the bedroom upstairs with a secret passageway. All those memories played a role in my writing of The Reindeer Keeper. The warmth and joy of family felt in that old house has stayed with me through the years and it was those memories that I tapped into when writing about the family in my Christmas story. The barns and fields and pastures and pine grove in the book all stemmed from the surroundings around that old farmhouse. I only wish my grandparents were still alive to read The Reindeer Keeper. My grandfather would especially have enjoyed what happens inside the "majestic old barn" in the book. He was an avid reader; a lover of Christmas.

I'm attaching a photo showing my grandmother cooking at her woodstove. You can see her in one of her house dresses which I've previously blogged about. Her hair is as it always was, pulled up on top of her head and held in place with hair combs. She maneuvered that stove and all her pots and pans like a conductor of an orchestra. She'd cook using pinches of this and dashes of that and the end results were always the same-mouthwatering, delicious meals! Next to the stove-but not shown in this picture-was a woodbox. We'd take turns filling it which was always fun.

To the left you'll see the back door open. You get but a glimpse of the outside which was rolling pastures and hayfields and a bridge down at the creek leading to the back fields. The farmhouse was sold when my grandparents quit farming. The veranda no longer exists. Most of the tall and proud poplar trees lining the cinder driveway have been axed. That barn which plays such a vital role in The Reindeer Keeper was sold; then burned down. All that remains is its lonely silo.

But absolutley nothing can wipe away images of a family living out in the country; working the land and raising six daughters. Nothing can take away this image of my grandmother at her woodstove. I can smell the aromas coming from that kitchen and feel the warmth as we'd gather to enjoy whatever it was she created between doing everything else she had to do. Just as conductors pull together musicians, my grandmother pulled us together time after time around the kitchen table-around the dining room table. She's left us with pricless memori

es and gifts of giving and caring-all something to think about this holiday season.

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