“How much longer will it be Mom?” asked Jimmy, wiggling around in the back seat.
“We’ll be there in about an hour, honey.”
Watching him brought back memories of my own impatience as a child, while making these trips with my mom and dad many years ago.
Visiting my grandparents was always like entering a little piece of heaven. I could envision Grandma with her long snow-white hair, pulled up in a tight bun at the back of her head. She would be wearing her apron tied around her plump waist, as she busied herself cooking and fussing over all the details of the dinner she would serve to us later. She would have taken out her heirloom china, only used on special occasions, and displayed all the pieces beautifully on the table.
Grandpa always handpicked the vegetables from his own crops, so the feast was bound to include hot corn-on-the-cob, dripping with butter. Steaming mashed potatoes piled high, peas, green beans, and carrots all seasoned to perfection. Crispy fried chicken battered in Grandma’s secret ingredients, homemade buttermilk biscuits drizzled with honey and apple pies baked golden brown; fresh from the oven. I could almost smell the mouth-watering aromas.
This would be Jimmy’s first summer that he would spend on my grandparent’s small country farm.
Our trip to get there took us down long winding gravel roads, overlooking vast expanses of corn waving in the breeze, beckoning to be harvested and rolling pastures with grazing cattle and horses either standing under shade trees, or wading ankle-deep at the edges of their watering holes. The scenery here never ceased to take my breath away.
When we began to explore the farm, Jimmy was sure to ask about the old one-footed duck. This part of the country endured a harsh winter a few years back. Swirling sleet and snow left behind a thick layer of ice on the ramp leading up to the chicken-coop. It must have been like trying to climb the frozen slopes of Mount Everest for the duckling. Grandpa found her huddled and trembling beneath it, after her attempt to climb the ramp to no avail. He had gently picked her up, wrapped her frostbitten feet as best he could, and placed her inside the warm nest among the older ducks and cackling chickens. The next morning she was alive and doing fine, but she would lose her left foot.
I was excited about taking Jimmy on a tour of the outhouse. I suspected his adventures this summer would lead him to be on the lookout there for spiders and creepy-crawly bugs of every description in its dark confines; an experience only a child could understand, or enjoy. Grandpa preferred that old outhouse, to the more modern facilities inside the house. I still don’t know why, but the thought always puts a smile on my face.
“Gather up all your things Jimmy, we’re almost there,” I said, interrupting his rapt attention to the passing scenery.
“Ok, Mom,” hurrying to do so, but looked back up as we turned into the driveway. “Hey Mom, is that the tree you used to climb when you were little?”
“Yes, it certainly is,” I replied, wondering if I could still climb it, but knowing Jimmy would climb it many times over the next few weeks. I prayed his daydreams while doing so, would take him to wonderful places only found inside the dreams of little boys. The limbs of that ole oak tree with its gnarly branches stretching out every which-way, had a magic all its own. If he sits still long enough, birds and squirrels would scamper and come to rest along beside him among the branches.
My mother and her ten siblings had all been born and raised here in this home. Jimmy would be the third, and most likely the last generation in our family to visit this little piece of heaven. Love flowed here like warm molasses and its treasured memories would linger in all our hearts forever.
My grandparents were standing on the porch waiting. Grandma wiped her hands on her apron, and dabbed at her eyes, in an attempt to hide her tears of joy. Grandpa stood behind her, with his hands in the pockets of his pants, trying to act nonchalant, but the big smile on his face gave his true feelings away. As the car came to a stop, Jimmy jumped out and ran into their waiting embrace.
*Authors notes…This particular trip and Jimmy are fictitious. However, all the descriptions of my beloved grandparents, the scenery, the mouth-watering food, the one–footed duck, the outhouse, and the ole oak tree are all my real-life - Treasured Memories.
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