Sunday, February 10, 2013

This is Home, Part 4 - Fixing the walk, the gardens, getting lost in the corn, the fruit trees, puppies and kittens, the mouse

This is part 4 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Fixing the walk

Uncle Doc and Daddy could do almost anything except mechanical work. When I was little, I remember watching them cut down a tree in the front yard near the sidewalk and front porch. I think it was a peach tree but I'm not sure.

It was a large tree and the roots had got into the ground under the concrete walk and the walk had broken.

After they got it down and removed it, they removed the broken walk, Then they came back and got out one or two rectangular-shaped wooden containers. They were possibly 6 ft. by 4 ft. and flat with short sides. They then got out a couple of sacks about the size of a burlap sack, only these sacks were paper. Inside was a gray powder. They dumped one sack out in each box and got water to add. Then they each started mixing with a hoe. They kept mixing with up and down strokes. I don't remember if they added anything else.

Finally, they put it in something like a wheelbarrow and started replacing the walk. It seems to me that they also put wood along the sides so it would dry with straight edges.

When they drew a line between it and the slab in front and back, I asked why. They said it was because in the winter the ground would freeze and thaw and the concrete might break otherwise.

Funny thing, when it dried, the whole walk fit together as though it had been made at the same time.

I think Daddy and Uncle Doc made all the walks to begin with and, of course, the steps and the platform-type step by the South bedroom, between the porch and the walk, with the date of 1800 something on it.

I used to sit there on the concrete platform on Sunday afternoon with books and papers spread out around me, writing the theme we had to write every weekend one of the years I was in high school.

The gardens

Anyway, I found lots of interesting things to do while Jean was a baby and too little to do anything.

I watched Uncle Doc carry water to water the tomato plants in the garden by the yard and the garage. They were small and he covered them with newspaper pages again after watering them. I helped him put clods on the paper corners so they wouldn't blow away. Then I watched him hoe and got to ask lots of questions. It was interesting to find that potatoes grow under the ground instead of on top like tomatoes.

Preparing the potatoes to plant was interesting, too. Plants or seeds are not planted. Daddy and Uncle Doc brought up a tub of potatoes from the cellar. Then they cut each one into three or four pieces. Each piece had to have an eye -- a place on the potato that is trying to sprout. From each of the pieces a potato plant with new potatoes grows.

Getting lost in the corn

We had four large gardens. One garden was behind the barn lot, next to the pasture where the horses were. One quarter to one third of this garden was planted in corn for the table. This corn had tassels, or corn silk, that could be used for mustaches and hair. The corn itself felt cool and it was soft, not hard like corn for animals.

I used to play like I was lost in a jungle while I walked around in the rows of corn. One day I was really kind of worried for a while.

The fruit trees

The garden behind the garage and past the end of the front yard had several rows of fruit trees that extended the length of the garden. In the spring, they looked so beautiful with pink and white blossoms. It also had a small grape arbor, plus the usual garden produce.

Puppies and kittens

This garden had another special thing. It had a small shed for animals just inside the gate that had a mother dog and puppies in it one year. The pups were tan and so cute. They were clumsy, fell over each other and had big feet they had to grow into. I used to get left over gravy from Mom and give it to them when they were little.

We had baby kittens sometimes, too, but if we found them and brought them to the house to play with, the mother cat carried them away again and hid them until they got older. Then she came to the house with the kittens following her.

We had a lot of cats. Some were at the house (not in the house) and some were at the barn. When Charley milked the cows, he gave the first bucket to the barn cats. He poured it into a big metal pan and they came running from all directions.

The mouse

I used to love mice when I was little. They looked so soft and cute with their pretty gray fur, tiny feet, black nose and black eyes that looked like they were pasted on the outside of their faces.

Every once in awhile we would get one or two in the house. We would hear them running inside the kitchen walls. They would gnaw a little hole in one of the corners and we would see one sneaking across the kitchen floor searching for food after the house was quiet and almost everyone had gone to bed.

I wanted to play with him. But Mom promptly set a trap upstairs and baited it with cheese. I told her that I didn't want her to kill him because she might catch Mickey Mouse. Anyway, I liked him.

Mom said. "Oh, you don't want to do that. He will eat your clothes. If we just leave them, we will have a lot of mice in the house."

One day, I found one just barely moving in Charley's room. I was about to pick him up and play with him when Mom came into the room. She said, "Don't touch him. He is sick or he wouldn't let you pick him up." She took him outside somewhere.

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