Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Very Long Walk Down Memory Lane ( Reader Advisory)

9:12 am. Watered the 2 gardens early, walked the dog, early, but there is no early any more.

At 10:30 last night the heat index still registered 110 degrees. I always hope when I burst out the door at 6:30am, I will enter the summer temperatures of my childhood. I grew up in a little town on the St. Clair River in Michigan. The river is part of the International Great Lakes Waterways. There was boating and fishing for pickerel and perch . Our garden grew peacefully, no brown twisted leaves on the tomato plants, there was a pear tree in the back yard and honey bees were always buzzing around the overripe fruit on the ground. We could pick cherries and grapes from the neighbors yards.

My only beef was I was an only child and was expected to help my mother with her projects. My mother was Martha Stewart before there was a Martha. We went out in the country and picked bunches of wild berries and grapes then made jar after jar of jams and jellies. We pickled cukes, chopped vegetables for relishes, and made tons of fruit pies ready to pop in the freezer and be baked in the winter months. We had a compost pile before there was compost. I never tasted a store bought English muffin until I went to boarding school. Isn't it odd I can't make pie crust?

In the summer I would sleep on the big screened in porch listening to the mournful sound of the freighters foghorns. And I would dream of the day I would move away from the little town and make an exciting life for myself elsewhere.

How ironic I've recreated that so much of that childhood right here in my little house with the garden and the fruit trees and the compost and the reading and the cooking.

It's probably hotter then hell there now too, but in my memory I'm riding my bike to go swimming. And it's a beautiful summer day.


  1. Phew, I am wilting right alongside of you.
    Childhood memories.... well, I didn't get to live in the country until in my thirties, but it was worth the wait. Never had a garden until I was in my twenties, that too was worth the wait.
    My pastry making has gone all to pot...used to make the crumbliest shortcrust, now it turns out like cardboard only less tasty! And born in Yorkshire it is to my eternal shame I cannot make a decent Yorkshire pudding. Hanging my head in shame now, can you see me?

  2. I heart this post. My growing up days were very similar, somehow the berry-picking and jam-making were "fun" activities, and "run down back and grab some corn for dinner" was a typical marching order, never met with argument. Wow - I miss that kid stuff!!

  3. Lovely, Jane. Growing up on river sounds so romantic, to me.

    I think we do try to do that, remake those childhoods...My mom also had compost before compost (except...the English always had compost)and fortunately I wasn't roped into the jam making and bottling. Consequently I can make pie crust :-)

  4. Nice. I like the way memory often does some selection for us, especially when it selects the best of the best.

  5. hi jane,

    i love this post for many reasons. one, my husband and i both grew up at the beach in southern california. long, endless days of saltwater and sand. now we live inland and i wouldn't trade it but we both wax poetic over our childhoods.

    two, my boys tell their friends that i was martha before there was a martha. i guess your mom and i were just not as well connected as she was. oh well, oh well.

    stay inside, draw the shades and watch some movies, that's about all you can do in that kind of weather.


    ps ~ i makes me so happy that i'm sending visitors your way but trust me i'm not hip. i must have everyone fooled!

  6. What wonderful memories! Mother used to freeze pies that way, too. So good to have a peach pie for Christmas - actually, I had forgotten that until now.

    Sounds like you have more humidity "up there" than we do "down here". Yesterday was 103 - I think - but only about 30%, so it didn't feel all that bad. I hate it tho!! Make it stop!

    If you really WANT to learn to make pie crust, I'd love to teach you. My specialty in college was making pie in the dorm with a wine bottle for a rolling pin. Still my favorite way to make it!

    Hang in there. GG will be home soon.

  7. Maggie, I do see you. Still at least you had the skill once.

    Gwen I think we need to do some preserving this summer. if it ever gets cool enough to boil water :)

    Marie, You can make anything. I think your Mother should have a blog, then we can see those gardens and dinners even when you're here.

    Janet, I tried to take your advice but a big storm came along and knocked out the power.
    8 hours without the internet and air. bad news bears.

    Webb, I would love to learn. Maybe I'll try when the weather cools down. Baking does require an over doesn't it?

    Did you get the storm yesterday?

  8. oh wow super post and writing! I have never been to the river where you lived but I feel like I have now! Loved your post ..Sinead x

  9. It's funny the very things we thought were dull as a child become the things we crave.

    15 years of being in London, and i am back in the country, turning into my mother. She is wonderful, so it's not a bad thing, i just didn't think this was where i would be.

    We don't have a river, but we do have a stream.

    You can buy the pie crust in the supermarket now - there has been progress after all.

  10. Miss Pickering's comment is so true. "It's funny the very things we thought were dull as a child become the things we crave." It does seem to happen just as she described...

  11. Loved this post... and it's so true. And what a lovely tribute to your mom, no?