Friday, August 23, 2013

Granny's Pantry # 4: Granny Cole at home

Granny's Pantry # 4


Farm house standing a century
Down the cedar-lined dirt lane.
Peacocks and guineas greeted comers
Or warned homefolks.      

Granny’s bedroom—safe in storms
When the lights went out for good.
Clean white cloths on the table
Boiled potatoes
Corn off the cob
Chicken fresh from the yard and fried
Churned butter—ripe fruit jelly
The biscuits...Oh, the biscuits!

Flour scented pantry                            

Flowed with homemade treasures-
Sweet muscadine wine
Homemade grape juice
Pound cake to smear with peanut butter
Peanuts to parch
Strawberry custard pies—my favorite
Blackberries picked by the calf pasture.
She served all that
And rich harvest soup. 

Out in the garden                   

Orange and yellow gladiolas waited
To enter and stand tall in crystal vases.
May-pops mid rows begged to be burst.
Butter beans shelled ‘til our nails were sore.
Family feasts—                                                                                             

Table sagged from one more covered dish.   
Granny could do anything and make it look easy.
Milk cows – make soap
Stuff sausage at killing time
Cook hog fat for cracklins and lard
Talk politics
Piece quilts
Sell eggs to the neighbors
Sew fine fashions from feed sacks
Boil Granddaddy’s muddy clothes in a pot in the yard
Shuck corn
Kill varmints
Pluck chickens
Feed wheat threshers
Take in boarders building the dam.                       

----  ------  ----
I could do anything, too.
With her, I was free.
Stay up half the night watching old movies
Sleep ‘til ten and eat cake for breakfast.
Only 1 rule: “Don’t stand on the well!”
I did and lived to tell.
Auctions and revivals
Sunday afternoon visits and church.
Christmas stockings embroidered with my name
Filled with soap and walnuts,
Toothpaste, an orange.
----  ------  ----

       My granny could do anything but live when she could do nothing more.
Faced with the thought of that…
She said goodbye.           

Well reported of for good works;
if she have brought up children,
if she have lodged strangers,
if she have washed the saints' feet,
if she have relieved the afflicted,
if she have diligently followed every good work.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Granny's Pantry # 3: The house at High Rock

Granny’s house never had a formal, fancy name. My sister, brother and I called it High Rock (for the settlement nearby named for a large rock outcrop above it on the side of the Flat Swamp Mountain range)...or just Granny’s. It sits on a Century Farm about a mile from High Rock Dam in piedmont North Carolina.
The house at High Rock
The house is the latest home place of our branch of the Cole’s back through Granddaddy Albert Milton. His bride, Freda Mae Morgan, came from a farm across the river in Rowan County. This Cole farm house was built about 1890 by Grandsir Jim (James Milton Cole--Albert’s daddy). Jim’s daddy, Grandsir Tom Cole, built an earlier house on a rise closer to the Yadkin River. This house site is now only remembered by a scattering of bricks and the old kitchen, which was moved to become the wheat house behind the newer High Rock house. The current farm is part of land acquired through land grants in 1779 and 1984 to the 3 times great grandfather of Albert Milton Cole—the land grant hangs on the wall in the living room.
                                The High Rock house sits at the end of a long dirt lane, lined by cedar trees, between two fields.
An avenue of ancient boxwoods leads to the front door.
Looking from front porch
There once was a plainer fa├žade on the two story front, but Granny Cole wanted...and got...the architectural changes of four square columns, shuttered windows and a slate front porch. The back of the house has one story and has tolerated an enclosed side porch, bathroom addition (an upgrade from the outhouse) and kitchen expansion (that for years housed both Granny’s wood and electric stoves) making life more convenient over the last 75 years or so.


Granddaddy’s been gone since 1967 and Granny since 1994. Aunt Ruthie lives there now, but much of the time…she doesn’t know it and is trying to get home. My heart pulls me back every few weeks, and I make the hundred mile trip to where I also used to live. I’ve conditioned myself to the changes, and we’re still adding to the memories.      

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is  temporary, but what is unseen is eternal 
(II Corinthians 4:18)