Fall is my favorite time of year! My spirit aches for it all year long. During the spring (which is my second favorite time of year) all the beautiful colors still make me think of autumn leaves. I have been known, many times, to refer to a chilly spring morning as reminding me of mornings in the fall. In the summer time I long for fall every second that I am outside enduring the sweltering heat. And although I like winter time, it still doesn't stir the happiness and contentment I feel during autumn.
On Saturday morning I was enjoying the quiet of the house before everyone woke. It was a little nippy because we hadn't turned the heat up before bed Friday night. And the sweetest memory came to my mind, so for a few moments I indulged myself....
When I was a young girl I remember spending time at my grandmother's house. Her name was Virginia Davis and she lived on a sweet, picturesque little farm in Bourbon County...Plum Lick Road to be exact. Her and my Papaw bought the farm when they were a young couple and raised their sons on that land, my Papaw farmed it his whole life. He passed away in his 50's. I'm not sure who built the house originally, but I know that Papaw built onto the original 4 room structure when he was a young father to make room for his boys. My memories of Papaw are the sketchy memories of a young child, I wish I had more. What I know about him mainly came from stories that my Mamaw or Daddy have told me.
Anyway, I have a lot of great memories of being with my grandmother....still, I wish I had more. She passed away in December 2007. Mamaw's house was heated with a fireplace and a wood burning stove, she had no air-conditioning either. In the summer time she threw her windows open and spent most of her day outside. I still remember the lace curtains that she hung in the summer and how they would sway constantly, proving there was always a breeze even if I couldn't feel it! In the winter, days were spent playing in the living room in front of the fire. It's a thousand wonders we didn't get burned because I remember her fire crackling and popping, and yet my sisters and I sat on the floor directly in front of it, playing and absorbing all the warmth that we could.
But in the fall, there was this hoovering conflict that consumed Mamaw's thoughts...when to light the fireplace. See, once she started the fire she would need to try to keep it going, because to start the fire was difficult and time consuming and sometimes smokey and stinky. Generally, it was just a "pain in the tookus", as Mamaw would say! But she didn't want to start it too early in the year when the days could still reach the upper 80's, yet the autumn mornings could leave this lingering chill in her house....
I remember being awakened by the wonderful smell of bacon and coffee. Although I didn't develop an appreciation for the taste of coffee until early in college, I still remember that wonderful smell that came from Mamaw's kitchen in the mornings! I would climb out from under the weight of the blankets that she had put over me during the night. I always went to bed with soft sheets, big fluffy pillows, and a thick handmade quilt on the bed. But when I woke in the morning, I could have as many as 10 blankets on top of me! I would put my warm toasty feet on the cold hardwood floor, grab a throw off the bed to wrap around me, and run as fast as I could into the kitchen because I KNEW it was the warmest place in the house. As I hurried through the house jumping from rug to rug, so as not to touch the cold wooden floor, I would round the corner of the kitchen, careful not to slip on the final rug that was in the doorway. I would plop myself in a chair she had purposefully placed in front of the open oven door. The seat was warm on my back and my "tookus"...sometimes TOO warm, but looking back at her gesture, I know she was giving me the best seat in the house!
We would sit in the kitchen and talk about what we were going to do that day. Maybe there was a homemaker's meeting to attend and I would get to make a craft. Or maybe we would drive down the road to visit Gladys Oldson and I would play outside with all of her cats. We would plan to have lunch at The Skillman House (Catherine's, we called it, because we knew the owner personally). After lunch we would share a piece of pie, and then I would take my own dishes to the kitchen and maybe bus a few other tables in the restaurant if the waitresses were busy, to which Catherine would give me and my sisters a quarter for all our hard work. Or maybe we would just stay and play on the farm all day, climbing in the barn, spooking the cows, and taking a walk to the pond to hear the frogs make their loud "ribbits" as they splashed in all at once.
As I get older, I love revisiting those moments! I had a happy childhood for the most part and my grandparents, on both sides of my family, were a presence that have etched beautiful memories in my heart. I have one living grandparent now and I consider myself blessed to have been given as much time as I have had with all of them. But for the past few days, I have been thinking a lot about Mamaw Duck, we called her that because she collected and decorated with ducks of all kinds. So this morning as I climb out of my bed and put my feet on a warm, carpeted floor, I feel a little chill in the house, so I throw on a sweatshirt and hit the buttons on the thermostat. I consider myself blessed to have such luxury, but something inside me this morning stirs and yearns for homemade quilts, a cold wooden floor, and a warm toasty kitchen chair by an open oven door....and one more day with my grandmother.