Katie and Cousin Mandy II
Mandy's mother Kaitlin has a serious accident which calls for Mandy extending her vacation with Katie and her family. Everyone is thrilled, trying their best to be somber about poor Kaitlin's predicament.
Cousins Who Feel Like Sisters
“ A happy family is but an earlier heaven.
-George Bernard Shaw
Are All Mothers Fierce and Protective?
Katie and her cousin were flying through chores to have time to jump in the river. About an hour every evening they would dive, scream, swim and play and an hour was about all they could take. The flow of springs into it made it very cool to cold! Her youngest two brothers could come in now too as long as Katie’s mom was not behind in all the many things needing done, and she would sit on the dock stringing beans while dangling her feet in the cool river and watching her boys. How very quickly her babies had grown and Katie, too. In no time she would have no babies. They sure didn’t like it when she would call them her babies. But they always would be.
She smiled watching them all play, it was tempting sometimes and if she had nothing to do she would join them. That wasn’t often though. It was rare to have nothing to do. So even on a so called break she was usually busy getting something done. This was sometimes difficult, but enjoyable work, owning and running a farm. You grew your own food so you never went hungry. It seemed you were born knowing hard work and the fruit and harvest of it made it all worthwhile.
Uncle Bob showed up two weeks early with many of Mandy’s clothes. Her mother had fallen and broken an arm and a collar bone. (Those shoes no doubt Katie thought.) The two older girls could take care of themselves and help their mother but Uncle Bob did not trust them to watch over Mandy. He knew they were sometimes resentful toward her, being the baby and so he was here to ask a big favor. Could Mandy stay a few more weeks, maybe through Christmas?
Well Katie could not act too thrilled since Kaitlin was badly hurt and she really did not want that to happen, but for Mandy to get weeks more here, oh, what a thrill! She always hated so bad for her to go home and just the whole family missed her, but especially Katie. She was so like a sister, they would have such fun! Of course it was fine with Mary.
Katie and Mandy being only ten still knew to be far from the house before they clasped hands, jumped and squealed. Wow, until Christmas would be many, many weeks. Mandy would go to Katie’s school, they would never be apart!
What fun they would have at Christmastime! Katie just could not wait!
Everyone Was so Thankful for This Land
Katie and Mandy had really enjoyed the big summer holiday, celebrating their country's independence. The Fourth of July church picnic was the most fun this community of people had ever had and it was guessed no one was missing it! From the tiniest baby to the oldest grandma, everyone was there and it was bigger than anything any had ever seen, anywhere.
They were very excited about the picnic as it was being being planned. Several men volunteered to make a long table for food and seating, even Katie’s older brother helped. The night before ones who lived close by put a large pig on the pit to start slowly roasting so all would be ready pretty much when everyone arrived. There was prayer and a few words, but mostly picnic and that seemed to thrill everyone.
Katie’s mom made a large pot meal full of lean meat and many different vegetables. It was hard to sleep with the smell all over the house! They also baked several pies the evening before so that left more chores for Katie and her cousin Mandy but they did not mind. It was very exciting. Mandy was getting so good with helping it took no time at all and they had so much more time to play.
This was really a bad time to be cooking, being so hot. Katie's mom would walk out on the back porch in between cooking and mop her face and neck with a cloth she put there to wet with cool water from the pump well. It was always so good and cold. Katie often would stick her whole head under and pen her wet hair in a coil on top. Her Mom would laugh at her but say it sure was tempting. It ran down Katie’s body in cold streams and felt so good. Mandy laughed too, but she was a very good girl and Mary told Katie she should not be a bad influence. She laughed when she said it though, so Katie knew it was alright to just be herself. She just could never be as good as Mandy!
The delicious pork smelled so good and the dozens of different dishes people brought to add to the table was unbelievable. With all the fruits and vegetables being at the brink of ripeness that time of year most could be generous because of their bounty. As a matter of fact many crops would be put in a second time to ripen before the cold set in. There was plenty of warm weather left, right up until Christmas. Katie always prayed for a little snow for Christmas Day and sometimes she got it!
Many had quilts to sit on with their families for as big as the table was it still would not hold everyone and all that food. So everyone went around the table helping themselves and mothers and big sisters went around several times for the little ones! Mostly the men sat at the table that was very long with some very sweet women standing here and there keeping everything flowing smoothly.
After everyone had eaten every bit they could hold then there were desserts and fruits, and all left over’s would be given to the old couples who had a much harder time getting the harvest they once did and especially widow women with children. They got packed up really good and everyone was so happy for that. The preacher said the cup runneth over and surely it did.
There was a crowd there, many coming that did not show up every Sunday. Gossip exchanged, games were played and hymns flowed once the day started dwindling. The singing went on and on as everyone prepared to go home.
It was a day many would reflect on all through the winter and breathe a happy sigh!
July and August heat were worse here in the south. September was about as hot if not hotter of the day but the nights started cooling. Mornings were much better if you got up early and got everything done, which they did.
Did you go to church functions while visiting relatives?
School had started and it could be a brisk trip out to do the chores before cleaning up and dressing for school. Mandy's dresses were so nice it made her stand out so Mary made her a couple of plain ones in just a few days and an apron shift that would cover the dresses with lacy tops and fronts. She felt more comfortable this way and girls did not stare at her so much. Her red hair was bad enough she thought but Katie and Mary assured her it was very beautiful and was the only decoration really she ever needed.
They walked to the school with Katie's little brothers who were always in a hurry to join their friends outside before the bell rang.
Where the road forked getting on the school road they would often run into a girl their age named Callie. She lived on Sassy Creek Farm and they had promised her come another summer they would come and swim in her creek. It was getting too cold to swim now besides all the rush to get ready for the two big winter holidays and making sure there was food enough put back for winter. But there would be time next summer.
Callie had caught a baby rabbit when the mother was killed and raised it and now this grown rabbit would sometimes come back to visit. She had some really fun tales of her farm and family and both the cousins looked forward to seeing it one day.
Their shared stories were always so much fun and they all hated that is was time for the bell by the time they got to the school every morning!
"Farming is a profession of hope.
~ Brian Brett
Before they could hardly turn around it was almost time for Thanksgiving. Another picnic had been mentioned but it was harvest time and canning time, everyone was so busy.
Katie and Mandy were not big enough to pick the apples but they picked raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and pawpaws. They strung beans for Mary and picked through all the berries and washed them well. By bedtime they had very stained fingers and mouths. They giggled and laughed looking in the mirror behind the wash stand. They did try not to eat too very many as they promised Mary they would do. It was just too tempting not to pop a plump juicy one in their mouth every now and then. An occasional ugly face from a sour one set off a fit of giggles!
The whole house was so hot from all the canning but the jars full of everything were growing so fast. As soon as they sealed and cooled there was a root cellar out back that would hold them all plus garlic, onions and herbs, hung on strings from the ceiling. Large hams would go up there too before cold weather.
Katie and Mandy got into the big holes that had been dug to loosen the big potatoes and piled the wheel barrel full and those too would go in deep bins in the cellar, with cabbages and carrots and just every vegetable imaginable. Katie loved the parsnips that gave everything they were cooked with a special sweet flavor. When the cold and snow that was never so much or bad came along, Mary would add these with many other vegetables to her tender beef stew. Then she made big yeast rolls with home made butter that melted in your mouth.
While the days were still so warm now the girls would wade the river edge to wash all the dust from their legs and arms before changing out of their dirty clothes to eat supper. Then would be time for their homework.
They both were great spellers and they loved testing each other on their words. It was very rare either would miss one. Katie so wished Many could just live with her forever. She knew she loved her mother and father though and she would never share these selfish thoughts. It was so nice having someone her age just like a sister and she looked forward to the added weeks of fun they had to look forward to. Yet when Katie thought about Mandy going back home, her heart would always twist with pain.
Life just didn't seem fair sometimes.
Have you ever helped do farm work or something as simple as gathering eggs?
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© 2018 Jackie Lynnley