August is such an in-between month—not quite summer and not quite fall. It is the tail end of summer, as gardens begin to finish their work for another season.
The ripe smell of corn tassels hang heavy in the air, as the corn stalks turn brown and dry. The late crops have mostly matured, and canning now is more of a chore than a pleasure. The hectic pace of summer is beginning to slow, and the country housewife can look at the filled cellar shelves and packed deep freezers with satisfaction.
My heart gives sort of a sad pang when I say this, but after this summer, I’m not planning to can any more. It’s getting too hard for me, and makes a burden on my husband and daughter to help me. Of course, he will have to downsize the garden, for if there is extra produce waiting to be canned or preserved, I will do it. We’ve had a garden and put away food for the winter right from the beginning of our marriage. We have enough canned goods in the cellar to last us for at least two or three years.
Mom used to sing a song that went like this, “Lay down your shovel and your hoe, Hang up your fiddle and your bow, There ain’t no more work for poor old Uncle Ned . . .” My refrain would be, “Lay down your canner and your spoon, Hang up your food mill at high noon, Thereain’t no more work for poor old Granny Bragg . . .” (I never could make a rhyme!)
I have fought tooth and toenail against growing old, but I did anyway. My first great-great-grandchild will be born next month, which is just the beginning of the tribe of descendants that will be forthcoming. The Lord has truly blessed us with children. As Psalms says in 127:4-5, “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are the children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”
Psalms 128:3, “Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.” This is the verse that I like most, as it pertains to our stage of life, “Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.” (Proverbs 17:6) I’m sure that applies to old women also!
I have a couple of great-grandsons who visit me most evenings as soon as they get off the school bus. (Peyton and Hunter, you are special!) I like to think they enjoy my company, although a trip to the cookie jar might have something to do with it. I have a poem written by my cousin Bobby (Frank) Samples back when I first began breaking bones. I hate to admit that I fractured another rib this week when I stretched myself over the chest freezer—I heard it “pop.” Oh well, it could have been worse.
ODE TO A GRANDMA
There’s some things about grandmas that make them unique.
Like a full cookie jar any day of the week.
And dinners on Sunday with ice cream and cake,
Far better than anything Mother could make.
There are stories when she was a child long age,
And all of the games that they played in the snow.
New clothes and new shoes for school in the fall
Sounds much more exciting than a modern day mall.
For cuts and small bruises she’s better by far,
Than all the great doctors and hospitals are.
For great consolation is found on her lap,
For small wounded spirits and babies that nap.
But grandmas sometimes must stay in their bed,
“‘Cause they’re old,” it seems that Poppaw once said.
And they get arthritis and varicose veins,
And various other non-descriptive pains.
One Grandma is different than any I’ve known,
For some of her grandkids are nearly quite grown.
And although she’ll admit to five decades, it’s true, (8 decades, now)
She still tries to do what those young people do.
I am told that she recently took to her bed,
Not from arthritis or a pain in her head.
But cavorting in bliss through the woodlands one day,
Did compression-type fractures on two vertebrae.
Now one might expect that a gal of her years,
Might fall on the curb while shopping at Sears.
Or fall when a bus stopped with too great a lurch,
Or plunge down the rain-slickened steps of a church.
But no, such a fate was not hers to be,
She injured herself on a fast ATV,
By bouncing too high for the strength of her spine,
And it hurts me to say she’s a cousin of mine.
Many fractures later, I look back on the adventures of my life and realize that I really should have been more careful. I long for the mountains now, and a clear, cold trout stream. This is the time of year, when after the toil of summer, a person feels the need of getting away from it all for a few days. I can smell the smoke coming from a campfire, and taste the crispy fried potatoes cooked in an iron skillet. I hear the gurgle and murmur of William’s River as it gushes over the huge boulders and rushes on downstream. I hear the mountains calling me.
Still summer lingers—the sun shines down hotly on the mauve Joe-Pye weed that towers over the wild yellow sunflowers and paler evening primrose in the meadow. Small butterflies of a soft, yellow hue visit the fragrant Sweet William blossoms, and green pokeberries ripen on purple poke stalks. Birds throng the wild cherry trees where the bitter, astringent fruit ripens on the topmost branches.
Dusk brings the half-grown rabbits flocking to the apple tree where the ripe, yellow apples are clustered on the ground. The glossy, black elderberries hang in thick clusters, and it seems that summer will last forever. But the katydids know. Their urgent call is heard each night, and in the cricket’s plaintive chirp there is a secret knowledge.
Summer is almost over, and autumn is approaching fast.