Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Grandparent(s) (04/03/08)
TITLE: Be Young with Me
By Verna Cole Mitchell
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Step up on the wraparound porch and run around to the side. Look for the well, and with the chain that hangs from the ceiling, let the bucket way down. After you pull it up again with the ice-cold water inside, grab the dipper close at hand, fill it up, and allow those crystal droplets to linger on your tongue.
Against the porch wall, you can see the leather strop where Pa flicks his razor back and forth to sharpen it with a lightning twist of his wrist. With his suspenders dropped off his shoulders on either side, he’ll wash his face in the basin and take a soft brush to lather up, then scrape the suds, along with his whiskers, from his face.
Climb down the steep steps from the porch and discover the secrets hidden in the old wash house a dozen or so steps away. Open the dusty boxes of Zane Grey novels for hours of happy reading. Examine the big galvanized tub that, when it’s filled with water, you can sit inside with your knees scrunched up to soak in the afternoon sun.
Follow the path down the hill past Ma’s gigantic garden, where she is busy gathering red plump tomatoes and peppers greener than the grasshoppers hiding under them. She’s putting them in the pulled-up skirt of her blue flowered apron. If you go back up the hill with her, she’ll let you help, if you want to, pluck the feathers off a chicken and cut it into pieces for tonight’s dinner. You can help flour it and fry it in a huge iron skillet until it’s golden brown. You’ll have to be careful, though, not to let the hot grease spatter on your arms.
Swing on the squeaky front gate till Pa hollers out, “Get off there! Haven’t I told you children a thousand times not to swing on that gate?” Creep across the dusty road to the old cemetery and tiptoe among the tombstones to listen for lonely ghosts.
Open the front door and go in the house, where you can hear clattering of china and be led by amazing aromas into the dining room. Gather with all the relatives around the large table, burdened with heaping bowls of mashed potatoes, steaming fresh corn and beans, and a big lettuce salad—all circling a platter of crispy fried chicken. Take the hand of a person on either side to hold while Pa says grace. When the food is passed around, be sure to snatch a couple of biscuits. They’ll be so light, you’ll think they’re made of air. Lather them with fresh churned butter and Ma’s homemade strawberry jam. Eat till you think you’ll pop. Then have a piece of creamy coconut cake or blueberry pie in a crumbly crust.
Sit in the evening with the grown-ups out on the front porch rockers, while the sounds of their soft conversation and laughter mingle with the music of the crickets and tree frogs.
Before bedtime, you can listen to the staticky music on the upright radio. Go pilfer through Ma’s dresser for her scattered hairpins and fancy dress pins. You can take the shine off your nose with her powder puff that raises a cloud in the lamp-lit room, and try out her Avon sample lipsticks.
Finally, you can climb into the soft featherbed on sheets that smell of sunshine and summer breezes and put your head on a downy pillow to dream sweet dreams of another tomorrow in a visit to my dear grandparents' home.
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