Thursday, January 22, 2015

Harvesting Ice in the Wintertime

Harvesting Ice in the Wintertime:
Years back one of my aunts-the oldest of six sisters-blessed all of us with a hand-written recipe book featuring my grandmother's recipes-many enjoyed for generations. But that recipe book titled, "Mom's Farm Kitchen", is so much more as my talented aunt divided the book into the four seasons. At the beginning of each section she wrote her memories of growing up on the farm in relationship to that particular season. It's a true treasure-telling not only family stories but of life in general-a documentary of a simpler time.
Today I found myself thinking of one particular Winter entry my aunt wrote as I happened upon Amish harvesting ice not far from where I live. After taking a picture of them hard at work in sub-zero weather, I came home-pulled out the cookbook and read what she'd written about the times my grandfather "hired out with his team of horses and a flat-bedded sleigh to draw ice from the St. Lawrence to fill ice warehouses in town." My aunt wrote about his day that started before dawn. "We were awakened by delicious aromas from the kitchen below. Mom was cooking Dad's breakfast and fixing a lunch for him to take to the river." When she described how he had to bundle up I could imagine him getting ready in the farmhouse kitchen. "I can still see the huge fur coat and cap he wore," she wrote.
Looking out at the Amish hauling the huge chunks of ice I thought about my grandfather. Thanks to my aunt I read about him too.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Letters in the Mail

When I came across an 8-page letter written by my mother about her Nursing School's graduating class I realized how much I missed receiving letters in the mail. It used to be so exciting-walking to the mailbox-opening it-and finding a letter with my name on it. I'd skip all the way back down the driveway-waiting to open it once I was back in the house and in my room. Receiving a letter was a personal event. It was like fireworks on the 4th of July. Someone had bothered to sit down and spend time writing to me. Then the envelope had to be addressed-postage had to be placed in that upper right-hand corner-then either dropped in a mailbox or taken to a post office. It was an effort to write a letter-and when I'd receive a letter that effort was appreciated.
I remember having a special box sitting on top of my desk in my bedroom. That's where I kept all my cards and letters. Sometimes I'd go through all of them-taking each one out and rereading them. I loved looking at the various examples of penmanship-all so different. When I look at my mother's I can see her sitting at the table with her hair up in pin curls and bearing down hard on the paper with her pen. When my older brother was in Vietnam I'd receive an occasional letter. His penmanship was very neat. My father-in-law's was a work of art. He considered penmanship quite important-telling a lot about a person. One aunt who lived in Chicago had penmanship similar to my mother's. That's when the postmark came in handy. Receiving a letter all the way from Chicago was most exciting. Receiving any letter was exciting.
Sad to think writing letters is a lost art-a lost event for the upcoming generations. That's why I send my granddaughter little things in the mail. I want her to feel that special excitement email will never offer-an envelope with stickers all over it and her name right smack dab in the middle-sealed-and meant only for her. Preserving little joys in life for the upcoming generations is important. Writing a letter is an expression of caring. Sure beats hitting send on a computer.