August 14, 2014

Good For The Soul

I fill my sink up with suds from drops that come out of a green Palmolive bottle.  I don't really even think it cleans my dishes very well, but the smell of green Palmolive is good for my soul.  In the grand scheme of things, I think life would be so much better if we always picked what was good for our souls instead of what is good for our dishes or what is on sale. You see, my Granny Sadie has used Palmolive since probably the dark ages.  Always the green original kind except for a brief stint where she tried green apple.  Thankfully, that didn't last long.  From the time I pop open the top of that bottle I'm transported back to her kitchen, standing on a chair and washing my hands with green dish soap before a meal.  One sniff and I feel 8 years old and cared for and safe.  I love it when that feeling waves over me. It's the best feeling there is.  I know that my Granny wears perfume but she always smells like Palmolive to me.  And waxy lipstick.  And God knows she gets every last drop of lipstick out of the container with the end of a bobby pin because it's sinful to waste good lipstick.  Or anything, really.

That kitchen at Granny's holds a million memories for me.  I love seeing my children in that kitchen, mixtures of so many generations... laughing, fighting, catching up, judging, but always loving.  To this day, I measure heat by varying degrees of the inferno that was Granny's kitchen.  There are few things hotter than that kitchen in August when it was full of my aunts talking and cackling a million miles an hour with the canner full of green beans in mason jars and corn boiling to freeze and no air conditioning.  My cousins and I would run around that kitchen while our moms sat and snapped beans or cut corn off the cob while sweat would roll down all the places you don't want sweat to roll.  We'd help for a few minutes and then run off to do other things, so dealing with the garden felt like more fun than work.  Granny's place was where we would step back in time.  That 150 year old farm house felt like our very own Little House adventure.

The entire farm was our play land.  It still feels that way to me.  When I walk through the barns with my kids and tell them stories about how we would play in the hayloft and how the chickens would lay their eggs in the gaps between the bails of straw or how one time my cousin got stuck up on top of the grain bin, they look at me like I might be part alien.  Like I'm walking, talking historical fiction.  Part of the love affair with the farm and that house is that when us kids would go to Granny's (and it felt like we were there all the time) she made us feel like she had all the time in the world to sit and read us books or tell us stories or cook us endless plates of food from scratch.  Mostly, though, she listened.  She listened to our little kids concerns like it was the most important thing she had going.  My cousin, Kate, used to say "Granny's house is free". It was... free to make messes and mistakes and still feel valued.  We were truly lucky kids.  It was a slower way of life.  One that felt boring to me as a teenager, but one that I love to come back to now as an adult.  There are just certain things about that place (like the smell of Palmolive) that just bring me back to my center.  The other one is Granny's garden.  My mom thinks I'm crazy for that, since as a kid, it was her JOB to work in that giant garden.  But for my generation it was a place to run through and pick from and marvel at.  It was like magic to see things grow and watch Granny be in her happy place.  She ho-hums and haws and worries about that garden but when she sees big fat ears of corn or has a good bean crop or has a cup full of juicy cherry tomatoes you can just watch her light up.  It's soul deep.  It's so much fun to watch.

A few days ago, I took the kids out there to pick corn.  Seeing them run through the rows of corn and hearing them talk to Granny about adequate water supply and mature ears and the raccoons that were threatening the harvest took me back.  I couldn't help but want those moments with my beloved grandmother and my children to last forever.  I've thought back over most of our summer together... of all the things big and small that we've done... all the adventures that we've had... and seeing my kids pick corn and the smile on my Granny's face as she walked out of the corn patch with her arms overflowing may just top them all.  To them it was probably something small.  They might not even remember that it happened.  But for me, it was reliving the best parts of my childhood memories all over again through new eyes.  That's the magic of being a parent.  If you sort through all the other things- there is still magic anew.


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