Thursday, November 3, 2011

Back to the Prairie: Of Perfume and Fried Chicken

   In the great expanse of prairie life there are many variables; the weather, the crops, the herd and the gatherings. No matter the circumstances a few constants always remained; my grandmothers. Strong women of the prairie who lived through hard times, maintained a steady homestead, and were faithful to their families. My grandmother and I had a wonderful relationship, but, oddly enough, my great grandmother and I had and even better one.
   Just a ways from the farm in a little 'suburb'-type area was where she lived. Encircled by a white picket fence, her house always made me thing of a 'cottage' with simple, native flower gardens and a little white rock driveway. There was a trellis-arbor to enter her place; rambling roses climbed and bloomed there. Just like a picture on a postcard, her gate just seemed to welcome you in.
   Often our arrivals were abrupt..just picking her up for a monumental and rare trip to a neighboring town where the only Walmart was located. She and I sat together in the back seat of my grandmother's big car. She's squeeze my hand and smile; sparkling eyes hidden by tinted glasses, a light hint of red on her lips. Red hair was tucked in a scarf and a hefty dust of powder coated her softly lined face.
   Once at the store my great grandmother and I were left to ourselves; she didn't walk as fast as the others. I always stayed close by her because, after all, she may need some help reading a label or seeing things. Her first stop was always the perfume counter. I do not like perfume; don't wear it nor do I enjoy it, but one of my favorite memories of her is the perfume counter.
   In those days perfume counters had whole trays full of 'tester' bottles. She would spritz her wrists to sniff each one, then as me to sniff as determine the 'best one'. When her wrists ran out of room, it was time to use mine. Goodness, we must have been quite a scent to come across! From there we went to test talcum powders before hitting the rest of the store; anything fragrant was grounds for testing and sniffing....beware the candles..and when she discovered potpourri- oh, my!
   The end of our shopping trip sent us to her home where bags were unloaded over iced tea. My job was to take Fritzie outdoors for a "puddle". Such a tiny little ball of fluff; I didn't know anyone else with such an itty bitty dog. He and I went out back, and, you had to watch it because he would slip under the fence. Off to the side of the house was her laundry room where the old cast iron chicken fryer sat atop her dryer..I have no idea why she kept it there, but it was always there; always. Then came the garage where her powered blue car sat; I found it fascinating..powder blue. She didn't drive, but she kept that car and it looked right out of a picture.
   Before heading back to the farm there was always 'a little something' to eat. My great grandmother would open the cabinet next to the fridge and pull out a flour sack towel covered bowl full of fried chicken. Talk about a quirk that would weird you out--many a times I got 'the look' for asking why her chicken wasn't in the fridge - since it was in the cabinet right next to the fridge..a girl needs to know these things, right?
   In later years she moved from her home to an assisted living apartment, but my great grandmother stayed a vital part of our farm lives. Her frequent visits to the big farm kept her actively part of that busy and sustainable life. Along side her I shelled peas, pitted cherries, and snapped beans every season. Along side her memories were made of perfume and fried chicken.


Dollwood Farms said...

What a great memory! Thank you so much for sharing. I wish I had known my great grandmother or even my grandmothers (better at least). I miss them so much and would love their advice today. :)

Simply Scaife Family said...

My grandmothers have all passed away now, yet their memories are still so alive. Thank you.