By Laura Lee Myer
Some of my fondest memories from my childhood involve my grandparents’ home and the small farm where it was located.
There were cows, pigs, chickens and row upon row of crops in the field behind the house. For a while, my grandfather also kept bees, but after developing a life-threatening allergy to their stings, that came to an end.
I remember sitting on the front porch of the house with my grandmother, mother, aunts and cousins shelling peas and snapping beans. Later, my grandmother and her sisters-in-law would crowd into the small kitchen and “put up” the vegetables that had been harvested from the garden.
Our freezer was stocked full of corn, okra, lima beans, butter beans and black-eyed peas.
My grandmother taught me how to cook in that kitchen. I remember baking cornbread with her. Her recipe started with one of her teacups full of fresh milk. Part of the instructions were to add cornmeal “until it feels right” and then bake “until it smells right.”
She made that cornbread every day, and it always tasted right.
Grandmother also taught me how to draw three-dimensional houses and how to thread a needle. I don’t draw that many houses anymore, but as a dedicated cross stitcher, I thread needles every day.
Grandmother didn’t cross-stitch, but she did quilt. I still have the quilt she kept on the bed I slept in when I was a child.
I once commented on how much I liked the colors in the fabric she had used to make the quilt, only to be told the “fabric” I was admiring was actually old flour sacks.
One of my favorite pictures of me with my grandfather was taken in front of the house. I couldn’t have been more than 2 years old at the time. We are standing in front of a trailer full of cotton ready to go to the gin.
Someone – probably my grandmother – had tied one of Granddaddy’s bandanas around my head to keep my ears warm. Granddaddy is holding my hand, and we are both smiling at the camera.
Grandmother and Granddaddy have been gone for more than 30 years, but the memories of time spent with them remain.
Their house became known as “The Little House” after Mom and Dad built their dream home up the hill from it. Over the years, some of my cousins and a couple of my nephews have lived there.
The Little House now has a new name. It’s home.
After 35 years in Metro Atlanta – with a couple of years in the Carolinas thrown in for good measure – I’ve moved back to north Alabama. My dogs and I have settled in quite nicely, but I must admit when I look around the house, I am amazed my grandmother was able to raise four boys in this house.
Dad laughs and says that’s because they were rarely in the house because they were too busy dealing with everything that needed to be done on the farm.
Thomas Wolfe was wrong. You can go home again.