Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: STEW (11/26/15)
- TITLE: Saturday Night on the Farm
By Pat Small
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“Ya taking that sow to the slaughterhouse soon?” queried Will. “She’s looking mighty good.”
“That she is, that she is. I’ll give her another coupla weeks though. Get as much meat and fat outta her as I can. Lord knows, we need it.”
“Yep. I’m understandin’ that. Thank tha’ good Lord the hens are layin’. Half dozen fresh eggs ever mornin’. Ya can count
“Sure been a hard winter, ain’t it? Martha says there’s still a good bit o’ taters and turnips in tha root cellar though. She did a lotta canning last summer too. We’ll be alright.”
“Got ma first seed catalog in tha mail the other day. I’m wavering over doublin’ up on tha corn this year, an’ going lighter on the beans.”
“Hmm. If ya wanta know, I’m more worried ‘bout that Hitler fella they keep talking about on the Philco than what I’m plantin’ come spring. Sounds like we might be finding ourselves in a war fore’n we know it.”
“I’ve heard that too, Will. Don’t mind tellin’ ya, I’m scairt for my boys. They’s both the age.”
“Ayuh. Fine young-uns you raised.”
“Martha says there ain’t no need to be afeared cuz the Lord’s hand is mighty ta save.”
“The womenfolks jus’ don‘t understand the evil in this world. Their minds is fixed on cookin’‘n cleanin’ and such like.”
Silently they drew on their pipes, breathing out the acrid smoke, and rocking.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Martha and Hattie sweated over the woodstove, in spite of the frost on the window panes. The aroma of buttermilk biscuits tickled their nostrils. “Whatta you think them ole coots are jawin about, Hattie?” Martha ventured.
“Ya know them, Sister. More’n likely stewing about that man over’n Europe someplace. That’s all I bin hearing lately. They’s talking about war, ya know?”
“I don’t even want ta think about it. Our boys ‘n all. It’s right scary.” Martha’s voice quavered ever so slightly, but she disguised it quickly, sliding the pan of biscuits out of the oven, and wiping her face with her apron.
“Let’s get the men folks in here fore the food gets cold,” Hattie suggested, ignoring her friend’s brief show of emotion and thinking of her own boy. He had been badly injured when a horse he was shoeing kicked him in the head. He had survived, but the way he was left, it mighta been a blessing if the good Lord had taken him, she reflected.
“Ouch!” that pan’s hot. Guess I wasn’t payin’ attention,” Martha sputtered.
“Hey, you ole fools hungry?” Hattie called, as she poured scalding coffee from the aluminum pot.
Chairs grated on the worn linoleum, and they pulled themselves up to the wooden table. Flowered oilcloth peeked out around the willow plates. Heads bowed quickly as Grandpa Norman addressed their maker: “Lord, we thank ya for this good food you’ve provided, and our dear women folk what’s prepared it. Lord, ya know we’s all mighty worried about our gov’ment, but we knows you got it under control. He’p us to trust you. Amen.”
All that was heard for a few minutes were knives and forks scraping across porcelain. Butter melted on the hot, fluffy biscuits. “Nothing better’n beans baked in a wood stove,” Uncle Will declared. “You girls sho did yerselves proud.”
Later, table cleared, dishes washed and put away, Grandpa Norman pulled out the deck of cards, and chairs again scraped the floor as they drew up to the scarred table. That was Saturday night on the farm. Leave the worries for later. Right now, they stared at their cards and argued good naturedly about who was cheating.
Seven months later, Martha watched as the mailman approached their old farm. He only hand delivered important mail, she knew. Her hands trembled as she walked to the door with legs shaking like an alder in a hurricane. “Thank ya, Maynard,” she managed as she accepted the official looking envelope.
“I’m so sorry, Martha,” he breathed as he turned away, and walked wearily back to his car. He’d delivered way too many of these letters lately.
Grandpa Norman had heard the postman drive up. He hurried in from the barn, his weak knees barely negotiating the steps. He took a deep breath and went to Martha. “Which one?” he asked, as his arm slid around her trembling shoulders.
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