Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Country Mouse: Berries for Pie & Dinner on the Screened-in Porch

As I settle into my new life I freely swing between my new place and my father's place. Janet's world and Daddy's world. Janet's world is tentative and emerging. Daddy's world is in its own orbit, with its established rhythms, yet fewer rules than I've ever experienced before.

Pop was raised on this homeplace founded in 1863 by his grandfather. How rare it is now-a-days to raise your children, care for your parents and see them die, and then live out your last years yourself--in one place.

Pop thrives on physical work and even at 91 he's out clearing brush, even if it means sitting down on the ground to do it. The work gives him a sense of accomplishment and helps him sleep. Aaron, the young man who helps Pop sometimes marvels at how Pop can work so steadily...Aaron says he learns what work really is by working with Pop. This is at my father's core: work. Work is his holy grail and he's never had to search for it.

When I'm in Daddy's world, I go out berrying in the hayfield behind the seckle pear trees in the hay field I know so well from haying here as a child. So itchy, haying is. Berrying means putting the softest in my mouth and thorns impaling my own soft flesh in an unprotected moment.

In the midst of black berry paradise at an edge of a cell phone rings and I arrange with Cousin Cynthia to attend the Lion King matinee Sunday at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis. And then my cell phone rings insurance agent checking in. The contrast between worlds could not be more stark.

Back in the Big Brown House I putter with household matters while the boys hog brush. We eat out on the screened-in porch which catches the natural summer breezes. My father echews airconditioning because he feels it makes him soft for outdoor work. Cousin Court is framing out an office for my niece in the White Cottage basement next door. That makes five for dinner--what we call the mid-day meal in the country: my brother Gary, Cousin Court, Pop, Aron (Pop's helper), and myself. The berries have made their way into a pie and we simply gorge on my brother's red ripe tomatoes which make any meal complete.

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3 Responses »

  1. Janet, you are sliding gently back into the family fold, surrounded by the contradictions between 19th century and 21st century life. You go, girl! Welcome home.

  2. Separate worlds tied together by berry pie and brother's ripe tomatoes...nice!

  3. I can so identify with this, Janet. My dad grew up on a farm in East Texas. One feeling I will always remember from my childhood visits to my grandparents' farm is how "timeless" it was there . . . the day's chores were dictated by the weather and by the position of the sun. I don't think I ever saw anyone glance at a wristwatch. And I'm not sure where a wall clock was.

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