Monday, August 8, 2011

MEMORIES IN THE BARGAIN...

 Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.

-From the television show The Wonder Years-
Bright and early on a Saturday morning Handy Hubby and I set off from the farm jouncing along the dry dusty dirt and stone road admiring the bright red barns against the cloudless vivid blue sky.  Heat waves shimmered off the tin roofs.  Big round bales of hay dotted the fields in perfect evenly spaced rows like soldiers standing at attention in formation.  Here and there cattle clustered under the shade of the occasional tree or bobbed around in algae laden ponds.  We were in search of treasures and trinkets for our little farmhouse.

Stepping through the door of what was once a thriving hub of the community, an ancient feed store turned bargain paradise, I was immediately catapulted back into the past.  The first thing my eyes fell upon was a folk art shelf depicting a set of squirrels eating nuts.  A memory rose to the surface.  I could hear my grandmothers laughter as she sat at my table watching one very plump greedy squirrel lay sprawled upon a mattress of bird seed in the open bird feeder with the shingled top like it was a canopy bed.  He would lay on his stomach feet sprawled out over the sides as if guarding his bounty.  Every so often one little paw would root around until the desired bed crumb was found and he would quickly flip over sending a shower of bedding to the ground as he lay belly up enjoying his bedtime snack.  This tickled my grandmother to no end.  I bought the shelf...
Next I spied a set of wooden and burlap canisters stacked like a building block tower.  Building...I have always loved to work with wood, even from early childhood when Granny and I would walk from the Old House to the original farm house site, where our little farm house now sits, so I could "build".  Granny would fill her red apron pocket with a handful of nails and I would swing a little ball-peen hammer as Old Mickey, an aged yellow dog of no distinction, trotted along behind us.  I would sift through the lumber of the tumbled down house and find just the right pieces to hammer away on until my hearts content with Granny patiently standing off to the side rocking back and forth from heel to toe, hands clasp behind her back softly humming...
A handmade grapevine wreath conjured up yet another memory.  Every fall just around Thanksgiving the uncles would start out on what they liked to call a hunt but was really a hike because with three whooping kids along any game was scared off.  One year we hiked all the way to the top of Bald Mountain.  The cousins and I, being tired and whining from the long trek, invented a faster way down the mountain.  We took running leaps into the almost waist high leaves and slid tumbling down the steep slope.  

Going too fast I grabbed a hanging wild grapevine to break my speed but a wondrous thing happened.  When the vine reached its ability to stretch any further and break my speed it swung me out landing me in a tumbling giggling heap.  After that the cousins and I aimed at loose vines sliding, swinging, and tumbling our way down the mountainside.  How we did not get hurt and what the uncles were thinking for letting us do it is beyond me.  Our mothers were not happy with the bedraggled appearance of their children in stained clothing and windy tales of how they got off Bald Mountain...  
 A row of burlap potato sacks hung along one wall of the old feed store.  I touched their texture and admired their graphics.  The course burlap between my fingers and the imagery of the potatoes put me in a sun drenched field just up past the ancient log barn.  The cousins and I stood baking in the sun at the edge of a potato patch.  Uncle Charlie had his old mule, Jack, hooked up to the plow and he was turning the rows of potatoes.  Each of us held a tow sack and an old fork, our bare feet buried and relishing the cool of the fresh turned dirt as our toes wriggled to the surface like fishing worms.  As soon as the first three rows were turned and the sound of Uncle Charlie driving Jack to " gees" and " haws" quieted we knew the race was going to begin.  
The first three rows always belonged to the cousins and I, whoever filled their tow sack first got a dollar.  Whoever finished their row first got an ice cream soda down at Baker's Drugs.  Burlap sack in one hand, fork in the other, we readied for the signal, Uncle Charlie lifted his cap high over his head and flagged the start.  Intense competition ensued as we snatched the freshly turned potatoes and tossed them into our tow sacks.  Forks scratched out partial buried potatoes and dirt clods flew.  Charlie and Jack continued to plow as adults entered their own race, to get the crop in, while we kids were occupied and out from under foot.  It never mattered who won in the end because we all knew there was a dip in Long Creek or a deep swim at Tyler Bend with a picnic at the end of the race...
 
A spice rack hung near the door with its little glass bottles winking a spicy memory at me.  We were in the old house near Christmas time.  The pot belly stove was doing its job of keeping us warm and cozy.  I had Granny all to myself, a rarity, when I asked her if we could have a tea party.  We had baked some sugar cookies on the old wood burning stove that morning and the little house smelled like vanilla and heaven.  Granny filled the cast iron kettle with water and used the iron spoon to lift the hot cover from the pot belly stove fitting the kettle into the covers place.  She then opened the little door on the front of the stove and poked at the coals coaxing them into a flame... 
Back into the tiny kitchen she pulled down tins of spices and can of loose tea.  She spooned out some loose tea leaves and sprinkled savory spices onto a snippet of muslin, gathering it up into a bag and tying it with twine.  Returning to the living room she opened the kettle lid and placed the bag inside, catching the twine edge in the lid.  We sat on the sofa our feet on the silver side rails warming our toes as she told me a story and the kettle steamed and boiled, the scent of sweet spices and love filling the air.  We drank the warm tea with a spoon full of home grown honey and there was never anything sweeter, the tea and the memory.

We wrapped up our trip the bargain barn with a fun find for Handy Hubby...
At our next stop we found super cheap old sewing machine table that will be revamped into a small computer desk for the farm, we have already started to dismantle it...
I found a cool coat rack for the utility room...
And a vintage vanity mirror, much needed, since there is only one bathroom and we found out the last time we were all there as a family that the ladies of the family take up way too much bathroom time.  I am setting up a primping area in one of the bedrooms to free up the bathroom...
 
The second best bargain of the day?  An old nail barrel I found out in the back shed at the farm, free!  Handy Hubby has already fixed a new top for it that I am going to paint a checkerboard on.  We have plans to make checkers and use it on the porch as a side/game/storage table.  We are going to keep the horseshoe set and bad mitten rackets and birdies in there...
I strolled away with more than a few treasures and trinkets for the farm that day.  Hands down the best bargain of the day was the stroll down memory lane that made these simple finds even sweeter.  
 Thank you for dropping in to visit and for sharing a stroll and a memory with me.  
I hope you all enjoy a wonderful week this week!
   

11 comments:

Vickie said...

Oh my goodness, this is going to be so much fun for me to watch you search high and low for treasures to put in your farmhouse! Wish I could go back and do it all again! I still "tweak" from time to time! I think I like your barrel turned game storage and checkerboard BEST!

Vee said...

Coming back to read this properly. Just popping in with a howdy. My goodness! You have been busy and blessed with great finds.

Are you really still having troubles with spam?

Ceekay- Thinkin of Home said...

Fantastic memories...brought some of my own to mind. You found some treasures!

sonya said...

Hello dear Sandy,
I always enjoy the strolls down memory lane with you. Such wonderful memories that I so envy. But appreciate that you share with us! You found awesome finds! Great ideas! Can't wait to see your checker board barrel. Thank you again for sharing with us.
Blessings,
Sonya

Diane said...

Sandy, your ladies primping area is just the best! When there's only one bathroom...yes, we gals need extra time for hair drying and curling and makeup applications...and a long line can form! LOL!

You have some wonderful childhood memories and the way you tell the stories is special. Do write that book!

Hugs, Diane

Lovey said...

Oh what awesome memories and opportunity to find things close to the heart...

Charlene said...

Sweet memories for sure my friend. My hubby remembers dragging a pillow case behind him as a "cotton sack" while he played in the field as his parents picked cotton. WOW that was a long time ago. Thanks for sharing & have a great week.
Hugs
Charlene

Vee said...

You sure can spin a memory, Miss Sandy. They're all special, but the one of your grandmother making tea was especially dear. Actually, my time spent here is nearly always relaxing and pleasant. Can't wait to see all these projects come to fruition.

(I don't know what you're going to do with those burlap sacks, but BJ at Sweet Nothings made the cutest stool using one as the cover. Darling.)

Kasia said...

This was so interesting to read! Not only inspiring and memory bringing, but the beautiful stuff you purchased and the memories you shared are wonderful!

Hugs,

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

Not only did you find a few new treasures they brought back to mind a few precious memories. Now that is a day well spent!

Dorthe said...

Sandy, you two found so many treasures, I love the table, and folk art shelf- and the vanity mirror- oh how lovely.
But much more than that, you found so many beautiful memoryes that just waited to pup up in your mind ,seing all this.
I love your photo, you looks so sweet and beautiful.
Hugs from a very rainy Denmark.
Dorthe

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