“Summer time and the living is easy.”
“Humph! Obviously George Gershwin wasn’t living on a farm when he wrote that!” Mattie fumed as she stooped to pick the last of the peas. “All these vegetables to pick and put up! It’s enough to make a body lose her religion.”
Jenny stopped singing and stared at her grandmother.
“Grandma Mattie, you know you don’t mean that. You’ve said a hundred times that there’s nowhere you’d rather be than here – unless it was heaven.”
Straightening and stretching her back, Mattie replied, “You’re right child. It’s just that when my back and hips ache, I sometimes lose sight of my blessings. Let’s take these peas up on the porch and I’ll get us some sweet iced-tea. We can rest and rock while we shell them.”
Jenny loved to sit with Grandma Mattie and get her to talking about the days when she was a child. Life was so different then.
The screen door slammed as Mattie came out with two tall glasses topped with lemon slices and fresh mint. She gave one to Jenny and settled herself in a rocker, shelling bowl in her lap.
“Grandma, tell me about the time you got lost and everyone was looking for you.”
“Oh my goodness, I haven’t thought about that in years. How did you even know about it?”
“Mom mentioned it this morning. She said you told it to her right here on this porch while you were shelling peas. I asked her to tell it to me, but she said it would be better coming from you. Will you tell me, please?”
“Well, let’s see. As I recollect, I was four or five at the time. It was summer time, and everyone else was busy with chores in the garden or the hay field. I had played with my doll, swinging her in a swing like that one hanging from the oak tree. I had my lunch, played some more and got really hot and sleepy; so I looked for a cool place to lie down.
About that time Ole Blue, our hound dog, came trotting across the yard and went under the porch. He had hollowed out a couple of spots in the dirt, and he curled up in one. I decided that would be the place for me. The bare, shaded earth was cool and soft. I curled up in one of the holes with my doll, knowing that Ole Blue was there for company. I fell sound asleep and slept for a couple of hours.
When I woke up, I heard people running up and down the porch, and people calling, ‘Mattie, Mattie, where are you?’
I climbed out of my hole and crawled out into the yard, dragging my doll behind me. You never heard such screaming and crying and shouting in your life. Momma ‘bout squeezed the life out of me, and Daddy said he didn’t know whether to hug me or whip me.”
“What did he do, Grandma?”
“Oh, he hugged me, then gave me a swat on the behind and sent me off with Momma. She took me out behind the house where we kept a tub of water to warm in the sun. She made me strip, and then scrubbed me and the doll from head to toes. Said she didn’t want fleas in her house. Guess I might have collected a few sleeping in a dog’s resting hole.”
“Grandma, that’s a great story. Do you have another one you would tell me?”
Mattie rocked and shelled peas for a minute, looking back through the memories in her mind. Reaching for her glass and taking a sip of tea she said, “Did I ever tell you about the time when …….”
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