Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Joys of Summer

Summer is a wonderful time of year when you are a kid and have two full months of freedom from school, homework and schedules. It is a wonderful time for teachers too. The last day of school for the year is met with great anticipation of the things that are ahead. Summer was never long enough, when I was a kid, there was always so much to do in the little towns that I grew up in. My earlier years were spent in the County Seat and all of my relatives lived nearby. I had a lot of friends that lived up and down the block too. It was a great time in the late 40's and early 50's to be a kid. No one worried about you walking down town to the local drug store for a soda or playing in the park alone or riding your bike around town in the cool dusk of the evening. There were no strangers in our town. Everyone knew everyone else and if a stranger came around.....everyone knew it. The only kidnapping we had ever heard of was the Lindburgh case and that was a long time ago.

Some of my favorite memories of summer were spent with Grandparents and at the cousins houses. They all lived in the country and I was in town. The farm had so many places to explore and we also had jobs. My family taught their children a work ethic as soon as they were big enough to handle a hoe, sit on a milk stool or gather the eggs and feed the chickens. A young girl also learned to make the beds, iron and help with the kitchen and household chores.

One of the busiest times in our family was when grandma's orchard started to produce. My paternal grandparents had a huge orchard with fruit that included peaches, apricots, cherries, apples, grapes, blackberries, pears, dewberries and raspberries. I doubt that my grandmother ever bought fruit unless it was pineapple. She even raised her own melons and peanuts. The wild sandhill plums were used for jams and jellies and even cobblers. I didn't much like the cobblers as the seed was left in the plum and had to be spit out.

When the fruit was ready, the entire family that was available came and we went to work. Each one had a bucket and we picked the fruit of the season. We sorted, washed, and prepared the fruit for the jars for canning. This was before freezers in our area. It was almost before electricity in that area. My grandma, Mom, and the Aunts, would get the fruit packed and start the job of processing. Part of the fruit was canned, part of it made into jelly and jams, and some of it was eaten fresh. The childrens job, after the picking, was to stay out of the way. We were glad to mind.

I can remember Grandma's kitchen floor being so sticky from all of the business of the fruit. When we walked across it, our shoes would click as we lifted them up, juice and sugar have a way of getting where they shouldn't be. Some of the things that we did get to help with was pitting the cherries, with the wonderful cherry pitter and peeling the apples. Grandmas also had an apple peeler. After the apples were peeled and cored, those peelings were cooked down and the juice was made into jelly. Nothing was wasted.

I have had a good crop of fruit this year. The apricots were plentiful and the sandhill plum bushes have been loaded. I am amazed at the people who would rather buy a jar of jam or jelly at the store than take the time to gather the rewards that God has provided for us. Gathering plums with my grandchildren was a special treat this summer. The younger ones spent most of the time exploring the plum thicket and eating but that is what it is all about. Grandpa, the kids, grandkids, and I had a special time together. I cherish that.



Dawn said...

Is your floor sticky! And aren't you thankful for airconditioning! Everytime I make jelly for fun and because I like too, I think of those women canning everything in sight out of necessity in broiling hot houses over wood stoves in long dresses. uggg!

A question--have you ever tried a cherry pitter on plums?

Andi said...

My floor is sticky but who knows when I'll mop it. Just can't get motivated. Since I have what looks to be 5 days home, maybe I'll get around to it.

Paula said...

Sticky floors, sticky cabinets, sticky back splash, sticky hood over the stove...yep making all that goodness is one sticky job!