Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cousin Penny Contributes.

Hey Penny, I just said jog my memory, not outdo me! What a great job!
The following is contributed by Penny (Branscomb) Comer:

Gramma's garden

My grandparents on both sides raised huge vegetable gardens including every berry imaginable, all of the fruits that grow in the area, and more vegetables than we could eat even with supplying the reservation and passer-bys. One summer in particular that stands out in my mind was when I was about 8 years old. Grandma's garden was ripe for the pickin' and we kids well understood what that meant. We seemed to forget from one summer to the next what harvest time meant. We sat at the back patio which was covered with grape vines for shade, in Gramma's old metal swinging chair. We helped shell peas until our thumbnails got so sore that we could barely use our fingers then went to stringin' the beans. During this time the adults were blanchin' corn and cuttin' it off the cobb. Now, I want to tell you, they cut the corn at a wooden patio table covered with what was called oil cloth, and a single light bulb hung from a socket above the table. They stacked the steamin' hot corn in huge piles at the end of the table and two of my aunts or my mother would begin cuttin'. The other aunts poked the corn into containers as fast as they could while fightin' the bees. I remember the huge mound of kernels that was at least a foot high and 2 feet long because they couldn't keep up. My dad kept the knives razor sharp so the cuttin' was easy, but a hot job. The corn juice (milk) that wasn't collected in the packages ran off the end of the table into a bucket for Gramma's old sow. I remember the fresh, barely cooked corn bein' as sweet as candy and you were in trouble if you consumed too much of it at one time. It didn't make sense to us kids puttin' up so much food with jars to be dumped out from the last harvest. Seemed like a waste of time to us.The problem with my family: they always stored so much food for the winter that in the summer they had to dump all of the unused jars or frozen containers, and pack what was dumped to the hog pen. WOW! I can remember the smell of that tangy stinky old pen. It was in the orchard area across the road from the Chief Drive In, now. That old sow would snort and thrash about knowin' what was coming to her pen. Then all of the jars had to be washed and sterilized again so we could dump it out again the next season. I really prefer the frozen method to the pressure canning now however, because the food doesn't loose all of its value in the processing, but the jars of fresh canned vegetables and fruit looked so pretty on the shelves. Kids today don't know what they're missin' to grab a jar of fresh fruit off the shelf instead of a bag of potato chips for a snack.Dad and his mother were avid hunters and fishermen. We always had meat for buck stew or deer bone soup. Carcasses weren't disposed of until the bones were stripped clean and boiled white. There was a way to make somethin' out of nothin' in those days. Grandma raised all of her chickens, pigs and goats, and the rest of our food came from the sea or rivers. I remember eatin' so much fish: cod, snapper, surf fish, steel head, summer salmon, trout and abalone that I hoped when I left home I'd never have to eat it again. But, back to the gardening, it seems to me like people are getting back to those times again; livin' off their land and gardens. My grandparents would be amazed at all of the packaged fertilizers in the stores now when they just had to shovel it out of their pens and haul it in their wheel barrows to the garden. And, another thing is this global warming they're talkin' about. Seems to me like it has changed the harvest season from late summer to late fall. That's a concern.

No comments: